MPs launch inquiry into sustainable tourism
A cross-party group of MPs has today opened an inquiry into the environmental impact of UK tourism, and will explore whether the government should do more to minimise the damage caused by holidaymakers.
The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) will investigate how the UK can take more responsibility for waste management and habitat, species, community and cultural impacts abroad.
It will also research how offering sustainable travel choices might help the country meet its net zero emission targets, and whether there is a role for offsets in sustainable tourism.
This comes after TRANSFORM brought together 23 experts from fields spanning energy, transport, sustainability, academia, manufacturing and technology to discuss the future of flight.
EAC chair, Mary Creagh, said: “When we book a cruise, flights or visit a popular tourist destination, it’s easy to forget about the environmental impact our holidays are having.
“The recent cruise ship collision in Venice, as well as protests there and in Barcelona, are a sharp reminder of the effects of ‘overtourism’ and the damage that can be done to the environment and local quality of life.”
The tourism industry accounts for an estimated 5% of global greenhouse gases, and the amended UK Climate Change Act includes aviation and shipping emissions in the new net zero target.
However, tourism also accounts for 10% of global GDP and just under 10% of total employment, and can help drive environmental protection, poverty alleviation and economic growth if done properly, according to the EAC.
The group’s inquiry will ask what the government can do to support sustainable inbound tourism, and where the balance should lie between affordable travel and influencing travel choices.
It will also investigate how well the UK is managing tourism in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and how effective current sustainable practices are from cruise ship and package holiday operators.
“While there are some sustainable practices, we want to look closely at the government’s actions to ensure the economic, social and environmental impacts of tourism are minimised,” Creagh added.
The EAC will publish a report early next year, and will be accepting submissions until 5pm on Friday 13 September.
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Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM