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Tourism

The South West is a key tourist destination within the UK. Tourists have an impact on the environment through their travel, the food and other resources they consume, and the waste they generate. These tourists are mainly residents of other regions so their ecological footprints should not be included in the ecological footprints of South West residents. On the contrary, the ecological footprint of South West residents when away from home does need to be included.

In the National Footprint Accounts (Redefining Progress, 2002), resources consumed by domestic and foreign tourists are included in the ecological footprint of the residents of the destination, but are not explicitly identified. The methodologies presented below use different assumptions to identify the amount of the ecological footprint of South West residents which is actually attributable to tourists.

Three methodologies were identified for this calculation, with bednights as an indicator being judged the most appropriate.

Method 1: Tourist bednights

In previous studies, such as Scotland's Footprint (BFF, 2004), the impact of tourists on a resident's ecological footprint was estimated by using bednight data – the number of overnight stays. Due to insufficient data, it was assumed that tourists consumed at the same rate as South West residents. However this is likely to be an underestimate, because people probably consume more on holiday than when they are at home.

The South West is a net importer of tourists - people visiting the region from outside spent 88 million bed-nights in the South West (South West Tourism, 2001), whereas South West residents spent 42 million bed-nights (ONS, 2002 and South West Tourism, 2001) visiting other places. The ecological footprint of tourism using this method is a measure of 'net' tourism (tourists visiting the South West minus South West residents visiting elsewhere).

Under these assumptions it is estimated that 0.14 gha of the 5.56 gha per person ecological footprint is due to 'net' tourism within the South West.

Method 2: Resident assumption

This method assumes that no tourist data is included in the data sources used to calculate the ecological footprint of residents in the South West. This is possible, as the data sources used in Stepping Forward are far more detailed than those used in previous studies of a similar kind, such as Scotland's Footprint (BFF, 2004) and City Limits (BFF, 2002).

Under this assumption, 'net' tourism accounts for none of the 5.56 gha per person ecological footprint within the South West.

Method 3: Bed & Breakfasts (B&B)

This method assumes that B&B data was the only possible tourist data included in the sources used to calculate the ecological footprint of residents in the South West. Using new estimated tourist consumption data the 2001 ecological footprint for B&B visitors was calculated. This data was then divided between South West residents to obtain 'per person' consumption estimates and ecological footprints (Table 12).

Table 12
Estimated B&B consumption and resulting ecological footprint
 
Component 2001 SW B&B consumption (per person) Unit Ecological footprint (gha/person)
Total 0.0097
Energy 89 kWh 0.0072
Food* n/a n/a n/a
Waste* 2 Kg 0.0024
Transport* n/a n/a n/a
Water 580 Litres 0.0001
* Food and transport are excluded from this analysis as tourist data is not included in the data sources used for Stepping Forward's ecological footprint analysis.

Examination of the data sources used to generate the estimates presented in Table 12, revealed boundary issues within the food and transport components. Tourist consumption of food and transport is not included in the data used for the Stepping Forward ecological footprint analysis, so accounting for it here would over-estimate the impact of tourist consumption on the ecological footprint of South West residents. Consequently only energy, waste and water were included in this analysis.

Assuming this level of tourist consumption, the B&B ecological footprint per capita was then adjusted according to the 'net tourism' assumptions (see Method 1). This gives an estimated 0.005 gha of the 5.56 gha per capita ecological footprint due to 'net' tourism within the South West.