Published on : Saturday, July 20, 2019
The inquiry into the environmental cost of tourism and transport will take into consideration whether the UK government should play a greater role in balancing the waste and damage caused by scores of Britons who go on holiday overseas each year.
It will also strive to reduce the negative consequences of the growing domestic tourism industry, and hefty carbon footprint of aviation and cruise companies.
According to the Commons environmental audit committee, which initiated the inquiry, global tourism is responsible for 5% of greenhouse gas emissions.
“Now that summer is here, families are looking forward to a well-earned holiday. But 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 committee chair, said Mary Creagh MP.
Creagh added, “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 minimized.”
Due to cheaper flights and zero tax on aviation fuel, the holiday business is one of the fastest-growing industries globally, accounting for more than 10% of global GDP.
But the growing weight of tourists is straining the most popular destinations of the world. The Philippines government had to close the island of Boracay for six months to clean up the sewage and other filth from unregulated and overstretched resorts.
In Thailand, authorities shut down Maya Bay to allow the environment to recover from a daily influx of 5,000 tourists and 200 boats since it became famous following the Leonardo DiCaprio film The Beach.
In the US, a growing crowd of backpackers in national parks has clogged up back-country trails and mountain roads. Venice plans to offset the damage with a new tax on the 30 million people who visit the lagoon city every year.
There are now anti-tourism protests in many cities, including Barcelona, and an increasing trend to blame accidents on the industry, most notably after the Venice cruise ship collision.
However, in spite of such complaints, the tourist business is expected to continue expanding. In Britain, tourism is the fastest-growing industry. Authorities expect the sector to expand by 3.8% till 2025 and account for more than a tenth of all jobs.