Sink or Swim? – Does The UK Need a Lifebuoy To Save Its Coasts From Drowning?

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Spring 2021

Picture this, you are on holiday at your favourite Southern UK coastal destination. But behind your enjoyment the destination is slowly deteriorating. This is the sad reality of today’s world.  

Climate change is moving to the forefront of our minds thanks to the likes of David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg. 

Do you realize the catastrophic impacts climate change is having to your favourite UK holiday destinations? 

It is time to actively acknowledge climate change, its impacts, and the solutions we can all pursue.  

Climate Change on a Global Scale

Various coastal destinations around the world are beginning to experience severe affects due to the rise in climate change. There are increased wave heights which have contributed and accelerated coastal erosion. Rising ocean temperatures are contributing to a loss of valuable ecosystems and marine life due to the acidification of the water.  

  • Soon Miami’s beautiful beaches will be washed away. 
  • Australia’s Great Barrier Reef will be bleached by acidic sea water becoming uninhabited baren land. 

You can start propelling the way our tourism infrastructure is built, improving our global communication of the possible risks and impacts of climate change. 

Great Barrier Reef – Before Coral Bleaching
Source: Ritaks (2009)
Great Barrier Reef – After Coral Bleaching
Source: James Gilmour/Australian Institute of Marine Science (2016)

The Problem Hits Closer To Home

Climate change is happening today! Environmentalists including Prince Charles are calling for swift action. Some of Britain’s favourite seaside holiday destinations are drowning in despair, if we do not grab onto that lifebuoy our picturesque seaside holiday dreams will be swept out to sea.  

Tourists are starting to value and appreciate what is right on our doorstep. 

Coastal tourism is increasing the levels of pollution. Our sea levels are rising, leading to our popular resorts crumbling before our very eyes.  

Slapton Sands
Source: Ley (2011)
  • Slapton sands has become cut off due to coastal erosion. 
  • Dawlish saw its main transportation link swept out to sea.  
  • Litter and our carbon footprint have caused devastation to our stunning landscape and nature, arguably the fundamental reason for visiting our coastal regions.  

Coastal destinations will cease to exist if we continue to abuse them through over tourism. It will become a shipwreck once loved and now destroyed becoming a figment of our imagination. 

You may think this is not a significant issue. But, we cannot keep blissfully enjoying staycations without acknowledging the detrimental consequences of our actions. The reality is that change is needed now.  

Are we floating on the edge of no return or is there something we could do? 

Dawlish Railway
Source: Network Rail (2019)

What Can I Do As A Tourist?

The consequences of global warming, climate change and unsustainable travel are far reaching within the tourism industry making its future look bleak. However, not all hope is lost.

As travellers it is up to us to ensure we collectively rethink the way we travel, providing a sustainable and exciting future for the next generations. Whilst this seems like a whale of a task, there are a few simple steps you can take next time you are looking at booking that much needed beach getaway to help reduce your carbon footprint.

  • Taking fewer but longer holidays will reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Utilise public transport, look for companies with sustainable/eco-conscious policies.
  • Support environmentally friendly organisations.
  • Book accommodation with eco-friendly hotels/resorts.

While small in scale, if more travellers consider these steps when booking their next getaway we can start to build a more sustainable future for destinations.

It is a win-win right?

If you would like to find further information, follow the links below.

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Emma James says:

I will be thinking about this next time I book my holiday

s1801789 says:

Hi Emma,
That’s great to hear. We are glad that you are going to take this into consideration.

Anita says:

A very interesting blog and you raise some concerning issues for all tourists to consider. I for one will definitely be more aware of these decisions when booking my next holiday as a lover of the coast from Cornwall! Let’s hope tourism companies will listen and adapt to the demand of a more eco-conscious tourist base to instil change in their businesses.

s1801789 says:

Hi Anita, thank you for taking the time to read our blog and for your feedback. We’re glad to hear that you will adopt our recommendations to help save our coasts. Yes, let’s hope that as tourists make more eco-conscious decisions on travel that tourism companies will act upon this demand so we make real positive change.

Carleen Martin says:

A very well written and interesting blog with an important message.

s1801789 says:

Hi Carleen, thank you for reading our blog and for your lovely feedback.

s1801433 says:

Really interesting blog! I feel i am more aware of the issues to do with climate change. As a tourist, i will ensure i try and make more sustainable decisions to help the environment and also the tourism industry.

s1801789 says:

Hi Shianne, thank you for reading and commenting on our blog. We’re thrilled to hear that you feel you have learned from our blog and will pursue your own sustainable travel actions in the future.

Alex says:

These are really helpful to read, as without this no one would hear about stuff like this. Great job!

s1801789 says:

Thank you for reading our blog Alex. We’re glad to hear that our blog has brought awareness and knowledge of this topic to you, it’s what we aimed to do for tourists!

Ellie says:

Great blog! I found much of the issues you have raised extremely concerning. I wasn’t aware just how much tourism has impacted the environment. It would be interesting to see whether tourism begins to implement more positive changes as well as individuals who choose to travel. I also think it would be interesting to see whether actually tourism picks up in locations such as Australia and The Great Barrier Reef as a result of impact – Will these tourist hotspots see a significant increase of visitors who want to see it before it disappears? Either way thank you for highlighting the importance of considering the environment impacts on travel. I’ll definitely be making steps to decrease my impact!

s1801789 says:

Hi Ellie, thank you for taking the time to read our blog and for your positive feedback. We hoped to raise awareness to tourists, so are glad we have achieved this with yourself. Yes, let’s hope that as the consumer base becomes more eco-conscious in their demands that tourism companies will actively pursue this in their organisations and policies. That is a very interesting thought about The Great Barrier Reef, we shall have to see in the coming years. You’re very welcome and we’re happy to hear that you will be personally considering your own impacts in the future.

Kay says:

This is a really interesting blog
I had no idea this was happening. As a keen traveller I will try to make more sustainable choices when thinking about holidays in future

s1801789 says:

Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on our blog Kay, we really appreciate it. We’re glad to hear that this blog has raised awareness to yourself, this is what we set out to achieve. It’s great to hear that you will pursue sustainable choices in your future travel decisions.

Alex Martin says:

Although this is very much an eye opening and interesting read, it is also a little upsetting. The very idea that we as humans are contributing to the destruction of these beautiful areas is beyond comprehension.

Hopefully the tide will turn (no pun intended) and we will see drastic action through meaningful policies that will actively enhance the way we think, feel and respond to the needs of our planet to keep it habitable for generations to come.

s1801789 says:

Thank you for taking the time to read our blog Alex, we really appreciate you spending the time to go through it. We’re pleased to see that it has raised awareness of the issues and future potential issues. We would love to see some change happen to help keep our coastal locations protected for future generations too.

Leanna says:

Really interesting and powerful read. I wasn’t aware just how bad it was getting. Hopefully after reading this more people will start to think more carefully about their impact when they go on holidays

s1801789 says:

Hi Leanna, thank you so much for taking the time to read our blog. We’re glad it has raised awareness with yourself and hope you follow these recommendations in the future.

Tom Read says:

This was a very interesting read as it’s not something that I have thought about when choosing to go away, thank you for highlighting a massive issue and will certainly take this into consideration when choosing destinations for my next getaway.

s1801789 says:

Hi Tom, thank you for your feedback. We’re glad to hear this will be at the forefront of your mind when next booking a much needed getaway.

Sam Kennedy says:

I think it’s really important that blogs like this, help raise the environmental issues that are being caused by Tourism. However, I was slightly confused at whether this was an article on global tourism or just the UK.

You say “UK holiday destinations?” in your opening and then go on to quote the global greenhouse emissions at 8%. The majority of that 8% comes from air traffic which is an international issue and is not therefore UK specific. It would be really interesting to see what UK tourism contributes especially with more people holidaying at home.

You mention the sea level rises, which is important, but this data is only measured from 1993 which is not a huge amount of time to draw any real conclusion. I believe there is data available from much further back that would really put this into perspective.

Similarly, you mention 30% of England’s coastline is receding but if you are looking at the UK in total it is only 17%. What was fascinating is that England is at 30% but Scotland only 12%. I imagine that this is closely linked to geology but it would have made the article even more interesting to explore why this is so.

Overall a great article and one which is really needed. I just feel you could give it some real punch from a UK perspective instead of mixing in the global narrative.

Hope this makes sense.

s1801789 says:

Hi Sam, thank you for your feedback and taking the time to read our blog! We wanted to raise awareness about how this is a global issue at the beginning, but then focus specifically on the UK to greater relate to our audience. You are entirely correct within highlighting the ambiguous nature of the statistics, as other factors like air traffic do contribute to this. Thank you for highlighting this point, it’s important to have a rounded perspective on these issues. The geology of the UK does indeed contribute to its sea levels and coastlines, again an important consideration. What recommendations do you believe the tourism industry should be promoting to its tourists? Once again thank you for your interesting and informative feedback and recommendations, it’s greatly appreciated by the group!

Sam Kennedy says:

Hi, Thanks for being so receptive to the feedback, it’s such a welcome. I think with regard to what we can tell the tourism industry, we should be looking at best practise in terms of reducing Co2 emissions from things like Park and ride. I was lucky enough to live in Devon and Cornwall for 12 or so years and learned a lot about how things do and don’t work from an environmental perspective. If you look at compare something like St Ives compared to Polperro you will instantly see the difference between being able to drive into town say as a day tripper and not. St Ives does not have an effective park and ride which means that literally hundreds of cars queue up every day to try and park in town. This often means all of these cars are crawling along at a walking pace and often stationary with their engines running. By contrast, at Polperro, you park up in the purpose-built car park and either walk into Town or catch the park and ride. The difference is incredible. Imagine if you were to duplicate this for all of the seaside resorts for day-trippers. That’s a lot of Co2 reduction.

s1801789 says:

Hi Sam, thank you for your response. We definitely agree with you and think it’s a great idea. Two of our group members live in Cornwall and Devon and we all agree with you that the accessibility of the destination is of high importance, especially for coastal regions like you mentioned. It would be great to see many more park and rides in place to help in reducing C02 emissions. It would also give visitors the added bonus of the chance to really appreciate the views and nature on their travels as they’re not driving!

Emily says:

This blog has really opened my eyes on the increasing effects the human races has on our planets health and climate change. I will try to walk it cycle short distance journeys. I will educate others about the disturbing statistics and suggest they make changes too. This way more beautiful memories can be made on costal holidays.

s1801789 says:

Hi Emily, it’s great to hear how you plan to become more sustainable in your future choices and raise awareness amongst those you know. Thanks for reading our blog.

Emily says:

This blog has really opened my eyes on the increasing effects the human races has on our planets health and climate change. I will try to walk it cycle short distance journeys. I will educate others about the disturbing statistics and suggest they make changes too. This way more beautiful memories can be made on costal holidays

Rumbi says:

This is such a great idea, I will try it next time I want to travel

s1801789 says:

Hi Rumbi, thank you for reading our blog and great to hear that you plan to be more sustainable in your future travel!

Bea says:

Great blog! Very useful information, thanks!

s1801789 says:

Hi Bea, we’re glad to hear you enjoyed reading our blog and found the information useful!

Debbie says:

Very interesting, well-written and informative read. It’ll make me think twice got our next holiday. I liked that there are some small steps to consider and change. I worry for smaller Cornish hospitality venues inc. B&Bs, but hopefully they’ll start making and promoting eco changes.

s1801789 says:

Hi Debbie. Thank you for taking your time to read and leave an insightful comment on our post. We are glad to hear that you found it informative and moving forward you will be thinking about the way you can make more sustainable choices. We hope there will be a more sustainable approach undertaken by hospitality and tourism venues as well.

Paul says:

Very informative and punchy blog. An insightful read with interesting facts and figures. It’s great to see this subject being highlighted. Makes me think twice when booking a coastal holiday and how I can be more sustainable in my approach.

s1801789 says:

Hi Paul. Thank you for taking the time to read our blog, we’re glad you found it informative to read. It’s great to see that you share similar values as to how important this subject area is and the need to make people more aware of the impacts and the need to be more sustainable in approaches.

Comments are closed.