The travel industry must play a part in combating climate change, Abta has urged while responding to a government inquiry into sustainable tourism.

The travel associationhighlighted examples where the government can help, including undertaking the modernisation of UK airspace.

It should also consider establishing a taskforce for de-carbonising aviation, similar to the electric vehicle energy taskforce – working in partnership with industry and incentivising alternative fuels.

A sustainable tourism approach is also needed to cover operations and supply chain via the promotion of recognised certification.

Travelife, run by Abta, supports more than 1,500 hotels sold by members in over 50 countries with improving their sustainability performance and highlighting those achievements to travellers and travel companies.

In response to the Commons environmental audit committee inquiry set up in July, Abta stressed that tourism can be “a force for good”, offering a vital source of income and employment for communities in destinations, and helping to improve welfare and health and safety standards.

The inquiry, which set a deadline of September 30 for responses, was established to help inform the government’s forthcoming aviation strategy to 2050. Its report is expected to be published early next year.

Committee chair Mary Creagh MP said at the launch: “The industry adds 5% to global greenhouse emissions, putting our net zero by 2050 target at risk.

“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.”

In response, Abta said it “recognises that aviation and shipping, which international travel and tourism is reliant upon, are carbon intensive and have a crucial role to play in reaching these objectives”.

Chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “Tourism brings with it considerable benefits that the industry should rightly be proud of. Economies and people depend on tourism, it protects and promotes cultural exchange and can support the preservation of natural environments and cultural heritage.

“The UK tourism industry plays a vital role in generating jobs and supporting communities in many destinations across the world.

“However, the industry must be mindful of its wider impacts, including climate change and it must play its part in combating this, in support of the government’s net-zero target.

“The breadth of Abta’s industry relations, from hotels and attractions in destination, to tour operators, cruise companies and retailers in the UK, means that it is ideally placed to encourage and guide companies on their path to decarbonisation.

“Abta is openly engaging and looks forward to working with the UK government, its members and the wider industry to develop policies and promote best practice that reduce any impacts of tourism and travel on the environment.”