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UK’s tourism strategy must support net zero target, AEF recommends

6th November, 2019

In July this year, the Environmental Audit Committee launched an inquiry into the environmental impacts of travel and tourism, and how these can be reduced.

AEF submitted written evidence to the inquiry, highlighting that a significant proportion of tourism’s environmental impact is related to air travel. Recent data from IATA indicated that British people make more international trips by air than people of any other nationality, we highlight in our response, whilst the Government predicts that air travel in the UK will grow by around 49% between now and 2050.

Given the limited in-sector opportunities to reduce aircraft emissions and noise between now and 2050, the Government should plan for a significantly lower level of aviation demand, we argue, and introduce demand management policies to ensure this objective is met. A UK tourism strategy needs to be compatible with reducing emissions from the aviation sector.

The key points made in our response are:

  1. UK tourism policy must be compatible with policies to deliver the UK’s 2050 net zero target. In line with the CCC’s advice to Government, this target must include international aviation, and should be legislated for under the Climate Change Act using secondary legislation.
  2. The level of future aviation growth predicted and supported by the Government is not in line with achieving a net zero future by 2050. A sustainable UK tourism strategy must avoid setting policies that will increase volumes of inbound and outbound tourism by air, and should not be predicated on the need for further airport expansion. Instead, the tourism strategy should focus on how to better promote domestic tourism and quality of life.
  3. The UK’s tourism strategy must take aircraft noise and health impacts into account, both in terms of people overflown, and the potential for adversely affecting British tourist destinations where tranquillity is an intrinsic part of their attractiveness, for example, national parks.

Our full response to the consultation, which closed in September, is available here.

With Parliament soon to be dissolved in advance of the general election on 12th December, the work of select committees, including this inquiry, will be suspended. Once a new committee is appointed after the election, the inquiry may relaunch.