Nature and travel
For many of us in tourism, nature is our product. And we all impact on nature in some way or another. We, and the communities that we visit, all depend on it. What can we do to contribute to a nature positive world?
Travel means the world
We believe in the value of exploring the world.
And because we rely on people traveling, we must protect and look after the world we travel and live in.
Our role in achieving a nature positive world means understanding and reducing harm and working towards restoring nature.
All of us in tourism – from those operating in natural areas, to beaches, cities, and urban areas – have the potential to contribute.
The economic benefits and employment opportunities that we create locally give us a chance to support and enhance the protection and restoration of local nature. This is one of the ways that we can use the power of the tourism dollar.
Our industry isn’t just made up of resorts, hotels, and tour operators – businesses in and around our supply chains – like cafes, restaurants, and souvenir shops – matter too. Every business involved in making a holiday experience is also part of the impact tourism has on the natural world.
Challenges facing nature
Our challenge is greater than in some industry sectors because we must educate our customers as well as make positive changes in our businesses – their actions can help protect nature too.
We need to rebuild our industry, support those who depend on it and frame this in a just, nature positive, and low carbon context.
The handbook is designed to help us all understand the nature-related challenges that we face and how we can take action to address them.
Examples of different types of actions are included; from more simple ones for ‘keeping pace’, to those that are ‘ahead of the curve’ and ‘game changing’.
The content covers UK and outbound tourism. Not all of it will apply to your business, and the advice is not intended to be a complete checklist – rather inspiration for further investigation about your businesses impacts leading to positive action.
What’s being done
There is a wide range of work being done across different sectors of the tourism industry, destinations, and supply chains to understand and reduce our impacts on nature and biodiversity.
Some of this work is attached to nature-based solutions for climate change and others to averting the biodiversity crisis. Both are essential.
We should recognise the outstanding work of some in our industry but also accept that collectively we are not where we need to be for nature.
Part of the reason is that our industry is complex, with long supply chains and many different players in any one destination.
We must make this an opportunity for exciting collaborations to deliver change at scale, rather than an excuse for not doing anything.
Now is the time for our innovative industry to come together and contribute even more strongly to getting nature positive.
Explore actions for nature
Tourism contributed £213 billion to the UK’s GDP in 2016, which is expected to increase to £265 billion by 2028- Statista, 2019
- 83% of global travellers think sustainable travel is vital. 61% say the pandemic has made them want to travel more sustainably. 
- Largely because of tourism, private reserves in Costa Rica receive financial contributions from the government for protecting biodiversity, conserving water reservoirs, and reducing carbon emissions. 
- Tourism accounts for about 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Transport, shopping and food are significant contributors. 
Justin Francis, CEO Responsible Travel
Despite our best intentions, our supply chains – particularly if they include intensively produced beef, dairy, soy, palm oil, cocoa, timber, and pulp, or hotels or cruise lines with poor environmental standards – are destroying nature and wildlife.
And yet, in many ways, tourism is ideally placed to contribute to the restoration of nature. We should be confident and ambitious in working to achieve this. The breadth of our relationships in destinations, and supply chains comprising accommodations, local activity providers, visitor attractions, transport services, nature reserves, and food providers create opportunities for collaborations to deliver very significant change.