Tourism help plea to avoid planet or profit choice

John Whitehead with his guest house behind him
John Whitehead has owned his eco guest house in Blaenau Ffestiniog for 25 years [BBC]

Tourism businesses need more support so they are not left choosing between "sustainability or quicker profits", a guest house owner has said.

John Whitehead, who runs an eco lodge in Eryri National Park, also called Snowdonia, said the sector needed help to tackle climate change.

It comes as Wales was named one of the world’s most sustainable destinations to visit this year by travel company Lonely Planet.

The Welsh government said it was supporting tourism businesses to reach their green ambitions.

Since buying his guest house 25 years ago, Mr Whitehead has made it more eco-friendly by adding new insulation, solar panels and "a boiler for the heating which runs on cat litter".

He added: "These things aren’t cheap but there’s not a lot of money out there."

"With the support we’ve got now you might break even in five or six years’ time and sometimes businesses won’t accept that, they’ll just look for a quicker return.

"Government can lead on this. We’re so far down the rabbit hole with climate change now they need to do more."

According to a recent YouGov poll, 35% of adults in the UK want to travel more sustainably - that figure rises to 42% among young people and is even higher globally, at 53%.

View of mountains from one of Eryri national park's peaks
Eryri National Park - Wales' largest national park - welcomes millions of visitors every year [BBC]

Nia Jones is co-chairwoman of the Anglesey Tourism Association and runs her own holiday let.

She said she had seen "a noticeable growth in the demand for sustainable stays in Wales".

"If we as an industry can meet that rise it can only be a good thing for us," she added.

“Tourism causes an increase in emissions and a loss of biodiversity and so we also have a duty of care to put something back."

Sarah Jayne on a paddleboard
Sarah Jones says visiting less popular places is one way to help [Sarah Jayne]

With more than 40,000 Instagram followers, Sarah Jayne from Flintshire uses her platform to promote sustainable travel.

She said that while "everyone" tends to head for places such as Yr Wyddfa and Ynys Llanddwyn, there were "vast pockets that are unexplored, places like the Clwydian Range".

She added: "It’s so easy to get away from everyone else and leave less of a mark. It could make such a difference."

Linda Osti, a senior lecturer in tourism management at Bangor University, said she felt Wales' tourism sector still had work to do.

"We normally think about the Nordic countries, so Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Sweden, when we think about who are doing well on sustainable tourism," she said.

"Sustainable tourism is more than just looking after the environment, it’s about supporting the communities and economy at the heart of it. If Wales can get it right the benefits could be great."

She added that more public transport and active tourism was the "last mile still missing".

The lighthouse on Ynys Llanddwyn
Ynys Llanddwyn is a popular spot on the north Wales coast [BBC]

The Welsh government said it was supporting tourism businesses to be environmentally friendly through its Sustainable Tourism Wales resource.

It added: "We continue to work with tourism businesses to achieve sustainable growth all year round. Our £20m future proofing fund will also help businesses become more sustainable.”