|Tourism efficiency (TE) has received increasing attention in research and policy development. Considering that CO2-emission is one of the important factors influencing TE at both, international and regional levels, the need to understand its impact on TE is not only a managerial challenge, but also an issue of vital importance. This paper proposes a conceptual framework of tourism efficiency-loss (TEL), and calculates the TE and TEL of 30 Chinese provinces during 2001–2014 by utilizing the transcendental logarithmic production function, followed by the analysis of TEL variables using the panel regression model. Our results show that: (1) TEL can serve as an indicator of the impact of carbon emissions on TE. (2) For the entire study period, the CO2-emission has resulted in a high TEL value for all provinces, especially in central China. At the provincial level, most of the eastern provinces (e.g., Tianjing, Shandong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, etc.), small parts of the central provinces (e.g., Henan), and parts of the western provinces (e.g., Qinghai and Inner Mongolia) showed a lower TEL value, while most of the central and western provinces, such as Shanxi, Hunan, Hubei, Gansu, etc., showed a relatively high TEL value.(3) An average increase was observed in the growth rates of both TE and TEL; however, the annual growth rate of TEL was relatively higher than that of TE. The general TEL levels have been experiencing a rising trend over the past 15 years in China, and the eastern region became the fastest region, followed by the western and northeast region. On the contrary, the central provinces experienced a decrease in the rate of TEL. (4) According to their TE and TEL values, the Chinese provinces can be categorized into four types: "high-TE and low-TEL, high-TE and high-TEL, low-TE and high-TEL, and low-TE and low-TEL. The "high-TE and low-TEL" regions included Tianjing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang ,Shandong ,Guangdong, Henan, and Jilin, mostly in eastern China; the "high-TE and high-TEL" regions included Beijing, Hebei, Fujian, Shanxi, Anhui, Hubei, Hunan, Liaoning, and Chongqing, mostly in central China; the “low-TE and high-TEL” regions included Heilongjiang, Inner Mongolia, Sichuan, Yunnan, Shanxi, and Qinghai, mostly in northeast and northwest China; and the “low-TE and low-TEL” regions included Hainan, Jiangxi, Guangzhou, Gansu, Ningxia, and Xinjiang, mostly in central-western China. (5) The impacts of the infrastructure, reception capacity, attraction, industrial scale, industrial structure, and energy technology varied according to the type of region, making the selection of optimization measures different in each region. The “high-TE and low-TEL” regions should further improve the energy technology and optimize the structure of tourism industry. The “high-TE and high-TEL” regions should use energy-saving technology, reduce emissions from tourism transport, and speed up the transformation of the mode of traditional tourism development pattern to a more connotative and intensive growth pattern. The “low-TE and high-TEL” regions should focus on raising tourism scenic marginal benefit, optimizing the tourism industrial structure and improving the level of energy conservation and intensive utilization of resources and tourism management. The “low-TE and low-TEL” regions should adjust the structure of the tourism industry, pay attention to the protection of tourism resources and environment, and reduce the negative impact of transportation on the environment.