Global tourism accounts for 8% of total carbon emissions, around three times greater than previously estimated.
That’s according to a new study of 160 countries, conducted between 2009 and 2013, published in the Nature & Climate Change journal and led by researchers at The University of Sydney in Australia.
The report suggests its updated assessment of tourism-related greenhouse gas emissions ends up with a larger figure because it includes emissions not only from travel but also from the full lifecycle footprint of the food, hotels and shopping facilities used by travellers.
The tourism industry is worth more than $7 trillion (£5.2tn) and is growing at around a rate of 4% each year.
Statistics show visitors from affluent countries visiting other wealthy destinations are driving the increase, with the US, China, Germany and India topping the rankings.
In terms of per capita emissions, small island destinations such as the Maldives, Cyprus and the Seychelles top the list – in these nations, tourism is responsible for up to 80% of annual emissions.