The tourism industry needs to adopt more sustainable and environmentally friendly ways of working to secure its long term future and combat climate change, tourism minister Barbara Follett said.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport's new sustainable tourism framework for England 'Winning: a tourism strategy for 2012 and beyond' which was launched last week sets out six key challenges for the tourism sector.
Follett said: "All of us must try to behave in a more environmentally responsible way and the tourism industry is no exception. If we value the future of our world and if we want to protect our country's unique tourism offer for future generations, we must take sustainability seriously and not see it just as an add-on luxury.
"There are already many businesses doing exemplary work in this area but more must to do so and soon. We have to challenge our thinking about what is on offer and how businesses are run.
"This will not be easy in difficult economic times, but a sustainable approach can be good for business too."
The six key challenges are:
- Minimising environmental impact and resource use by reducing waste, recycling more, reducing energy consumption and saving water.
- Addressing the impact of tourism transport. In 2007, 75 per cent of holiday trips were made by car compared to 19 per cent by public transport. Convenience and cost account for the majority of car and air travel but with more targeted advertising and special offers, along with increasing environmental awareness we could help to reduce reliance on certain forms of transport.
- Ensuring quality and making holidays accessible to all. The strength of the industry will continue to grow if we develop and promote high quality holidays and also increase participation in the quality assessment schemes and green schemes.
- Improving the quality of tourism jobs. We need to improve the perceptions of the tourism industry and make it more attractive to new and more diverse, talented and skilled people so they view careers in the industry as long term and not just temporary.
- Maintain and enhance community prosperity and quality of life - a healthy sustainable industry can improve the environment and prosperity of an area. The key to this success is involving the local community. They should be consulted at every stage of development and local high quality jobs should be available and businesses should be encouraged to source local food.
- Reducing short-term seasonal demand - most holidays are taken around the summer months which can put tourism facilities under strain for short periods and can also affect the ability of businesses to offer year round employment. The industry needs to encourage off-peak short breaks and promote non-seasonal events to encourage the use of facilities all year round.
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