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Summary of written evidence from the Environmental Audit Committee's inquiry into sustainable tourism

Posted on 09 October 2019

Summary of written evidence from the Environmental Audit Committee's inquiry into sustainable tourism

As we reported in July, the Environmental Audit Committee has turned its attention to investigating the sustainability credentials of the UK's tourism industry, having already looked into the fashion industry. The deadline for written submissions to the EAC's investigation closed on 30 September 2019.  However, given the shutdown of Parliament during September and the continuing focus on Brexit, this deadline may be extended in due course. 

Key points in the written evidence submitted to date include:

  • Living Bankside, a body which represents 13,000 residents who live along or near the Thames between the Oxo Tower and City Hall, submitted evidence regarding the Port of London Authority's plan to rebuild Swan Lane Pier for the Ocean Diva (Europe's largest party boat). Living Bankside raises numerous concerns, including: the effect on air quality; the increase in noise and artificial light levels; the safety risks associated with having 1500 partygoers embarking and leaving the Ocean Diva; the risk of the Thames being over trafficked by leisure vehicles; and the effect of the boat on the biodiversity and archaeological remains in the Thames;
  • Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions (CAGNE), raises concerns about the environmental damage caused by aviation and proposes the idea of making consumers more climate aware (i.e. having "climate smart travellers"). CAGNE suggests giving consumers details as to the effect travelling has on carbon emissions at the point of booking holidays, and introducing a "frequent flyer levee" which would apply to those holidaying overseas more than once a year by air or boat. CAGNE also notes that internal tourism should be encouraged in the UK; and
  • Dr Stroma Cole, Senior Lecturer at the University of the West of England and Director of Equality in Tourism, highlights the tourism strain on water suppliers (with high end and luxury tourism tending to consume greater volumes of water than small guesthouses) and gender inequality within the industry (with women disproportionately represented in lower skills and lower paid jobs).

Given the importance of tourism to the UK's economy, and the recent collapse of Thomas Cook, we expect this EAC investigation to be as detailed as its inquiry into the retail sector. The EAC has yet to publish dates for its public meetings to discuss the investigation. We will update this summary as and when additional written evidence is submitted and the public meetings have been announced.

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