The growth in international and domestic travel can lead to the physical degradation of popular sites, higher rents for residents, traffic congestion and air pollution.
A cross-party group of MPs will scrutinise the impacts of tourism and travel on the environment, and investigate how they can be reduced.
Tourism is one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world, accounting for ten percent of global GDP and just under ten percent of total employment, according to the Environmental Audit Committee.
Launching the probe this morning, the committee acknowledged that, if done well, tourism can help economic growth, environmental protection and poverty alleviation.
However, the growth in international and domestic travel can lead to the physical degradation of popular sites, higher rents for residents, traffic congestion and air pollution.
Protests against “overtourism” in cities such as Barcelona have highlighted the issue, the committee said.It is asking people to submit evidence on issues including how the UK tourism industry can balance encouraging tourism while protecting fragile environments; how well the UK industry manages the impact of tourism in line with the UN’s sustainable development goals; and the effectiveness of sustainable tourism practices of large tourism companies such as cruise ship and package holiday operators.
The MPs will question both how the government can support sustainable inbound tourism in the UK, and sustainable tourism to other countries.
The committee will also look at how the government can reach its net zero emissions targets through influencing sustainable travel patterns, and whether there is a role for offsets in sustainable tourism.
Click here to submit evidence to the inquiry by 15 September.
Catherine Early is a freelance environmental journalist and chief reporter for The Ecologist. She can be found tweeting at @Cat_Early76.