Attractions industry news

23 Jul 2019

British government to investigate impact of tourism on the environment

Having made a commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, the UK government has now launched an inquiry into the impacts of tourism and travel on the environment.

Announced by the Environmental Audit Committee, the inquiry is seeking written submissions on a number of issues, including what the government can do to support a sustainable inbound tourism industry in the UK, and how the UK tourism industry should balance the need to encourage tourism while protecting fragile environments.

Also included in the terms of reference are: how the UK government can reach its net zero emissions target through influencing sustainable travel patterns; whether the UK government should take more responsibility for the impacts of outbound tourism through, for example, waste and resource management; where the balance should lie between affordable travel and influencing sustainable travel choices; and how effective the sustainable tourism practices of large tourism companies are.

The announcement by the Environmental Audit Committee pointed out that an estimated 5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions are from the tourism industry, and Mary Creagh MP, chair of the committee, said: "The recent cruise ship collision in Venice, as well as protests both 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.

"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. We will publish a report early next year."

The inquiry closes on 13 September.

The dark side of tourism came to the fore in 2017, leading to protests and the coining of a new term: overtourism. For more on overtourism see the Q4 2018 edition of Attractions Management, available here.

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