Driving Climate Action in Tourism

Representatives of the tourism industry gathered at Croke Parke to attend Fáilte Ireland's first national conference on driving climate action in tourism businesses.

During  the event, Fáilte Ireland announced a new "Climate Action Roadmap" for tourism. It has developed eight expert Climate Action business guides tailored for the tourism sector.

Paul Kelly, CEO, said that Fáilte Ireland is already working in the sustainable development space, from environmental assessment on the Wild Atlantic Way to enhanced sustainability in capital investments.

"We are on our own climate action journey, and we want to support you on yours," he said. 

"Climate change impacts us all, as individuals and as businesses, and we have a responsibility to ourselves, our planet and to the next generation to take decisive action to play our part in tackling this critical issue. As was highlighted time and time again at last week's COP27 conference, we all need to take urgent action now - as has been said when it comes to climate action, 'Winning slowly is the same as losing'. And while it may seem that individual tourism businesses will have little impact on this huge global challenge...that couldn't be more wrong.

"The combined impact of lots of small changes in lots of small businesses can and will make a material difference. Our collective action can and will be powerful, impactful and drive meaningful change - both for our industry's future and for Ireland's climate targets. There are many tourism and hospitality businesses around the country already making great strides in their climate action journeys."

Outlining Fáilte Ireland's approach on climate action, he said:.

"For over a decade, Fáilte Ireland has used the internationally recognised VICE Model for Sustainable Tourism. This focuses on the interaction between Visitors (V), the Industry (I) that serves them, the Community that hosts them (C) and the impact on the Environment (E).

"Our approach aligns with the UN World Travel Organisation's definition of sustainable tourism as 'tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities'.

"When we look at the four elements of this VICE model going forward, we need to focus even more on the C & the E, the community and the environment over the next 10 years. Our mission is to drive the recovery of the sector in order to maximise the sustainable economic, environmental, cultural and social contribution of tourism to Ireland.

"Our vision is a tourism industry that is making an even bigger and more sustainable contribution to Ireland's economy, environment, society and culture than it did in 2019."

Kelly continued:

"We're bringing best in class in sustainable practices to all of our product development. For example, we in Fáilte Ireland have been monitoring the environmental impact of the Wild Atlantic Way since it was first founded 10 years ago. Many in the tourism industry are doing excellent initiatives around sustainable practices.

"What today is really about is to share those practices in this critical journey around climate action and reducing our carbon footprint."

Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin called on businesses in the sector to engage with sustainability targets for the sector as it seeks to cut emissions as part of the Climate Action Plan. She said that achieving emission cuts will be challenging but that existing supports can be used to help improve energy efficiency. A new Climate Action Fund, to be launched in the new year, will provide further supports to tourism businesses.

The Government is working on a new Sustainable Tourism Policy. A public consultation will open early next year to feed into the new policy.