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Study assesses Auckland tourism’s carbon footprint

Study assesses Auckland tourism’s carbon footprint
July 2, 2021

The rise in carbon emissions as a result of the growth in Auckland’s tourism has been assessed in a newly released study that explores ‘decarbonising’ the sector as a critical element of its future-proofing.

Undertaken by Dr Susanne Becken, Professor of Sustainable Tourism at Griffith University and Professor James Higham of the University of Otago, for economic and cultural agency Auckland Unlimited, The carbon footprint of Auckland tourism set about understanding tourism’s greenhouse gas emissions profile in order to inform future planning and management.

With the city facing having to balance its commitment to ambitious reductions in emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change while also acknowledging that tourism will form an integral part of the Auckland economy after COVID-19, the study applied two methods to measure carbon footprinting.

It found that in 2018, total emissions attributed to tourism reached 1,190 kilo-tonnes of CO2-e with transport related to tourism industries the largest contributor to emissions at 76.9%, with a significant part related to domestic air travel from Auckland.

Tourism’s share of emissions in Auckland was 11.7%, accommodation contributed 16.9% of the total tourism footprint with other tourism-related industries only making up 6.2% of emissions.

The report noted that by far the largest contributor to climate change is international air travel by international visitors to Auckland with 3,513 kilo-tonnes of CO2-e.

Domestic visitors and their associated (domestic) air travel, car and ferry emissions added 236 kilo-tonnes, and cruise ship passengers emitted 24 kilo-tonnes.

Among a range of recommendations to substantially reduce the tourism footprint, the study suggests action in the areas of tourism policy, product development, marketing and, data and research.

These include considering incentivising decarbonisation in visitor accommodation and key attractions to include:

  • Supporting energy audits and providing technical expertise;
  • Requesting carbon reporting as part of the rate payer process;
  • Awards for low carbon tourism sustainability champions.

In marketing it advises:

  • Conducting market analyses to inform a marketing optimisation strategy that is based on rigorous insights into environmental (CO2) and economic (GDP) measures.
  • Advancing a domestic tourism marketing strategy aimed at attracting low carbon regional/domestic visitor markets, while simultaneously reducing outbound international tourism (and associated high emissions).
  • Developing and advancing a strategy to target low distance/low emissions domestic markets given the centrality of transport to the findings of this report.
  • Building on existing strategies to increase length of stay in Auckland..

Click here to access the study.

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