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Holidays and responsible travel

6% of Brits offset their holiday travel emissions 12.11.07

Quarter of holidaymakers say they’ll switch to greener plans, but only 6 per cent put their money where their mouth is. Few holidaymakers are prepared to part with their cash in order to fulfil green travel aspirations, according to a new study from research company TNS.

The TNS Travel & Tourism study surveyed over 6,000 people in Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and North America between 18-22 October 2007.

The survey showed the Spanish are putting the rest of Europe to shame, boasting a population far more inclined to fund sustainable travel than any others.

In the TNS Travel & Tourism study, an embarrassing 7 per cent of the British have gone so far as to make a payment towards minimising the impact of their travel - such as a carbon offsetting scheme - compared with 12 per cent of Spaniards. With almost a fifth of British people claiming they expect to change travel plans in order to reduce the environmental impact of their journeys, the study shows a sharp contrast between our green ideals and the practicalities of us paying for sustainable travel.

Britain is lagging behind the average of the six countries surveyed, with 19 per cent saying they will switch to greener plans, compared to an average of 23 per cent. This rises to an impressive 32 per cent of Italians. However, we’re by no means the worst culprits - with Americans the least inclined to take steps to reduce their environmental impact (16 per cent).

And the Germans, European leaders in renewable energy, are the holidaymakers least prepared to pay to fund offsetting projects - just 2 per cent of those surveyed have done this.

The study comes at the start of the annual World Travel Market (12-15 November 2008 at Excel, London) where the heated debate over the future of air tax is set to rage. Britain is likely to champion the cause, as it boasts the highest percentage of travellers likely to choose an airline with a reputation for fuel-efficient planes (44 per cent vs a cross-country average of 30 per cent). We are also the country most likely to switch from plane to another form of transport (stated by 37 per cent of people questioned) and are strongly in favour of switching from car to public transport (36 per cent).

Unsurprisingly, the Americans are the least willing to give up their cars to the green cause - and again it is the Spanish who are the most likely to put some personal effort into achieving a sustainable holiday. Thirty-seven per cent of Spaniards questioned would take a holiday involving conservation-related activities, compared to just 23 per cent of British people.

Tom Costley, Head of TNS Travel & Tourism, comments: "The World Travel Market presents a great opportunity for operators across the industry to share ideas for the future of travel. There’s no doubt that green travel will be high up the agenda - but operators need to acknowledge that not all holidaymakers think of sustainable tourism in the same way. Our study reveals that the Spanish and Italians are happier to fund offset schemes directly - but the British would much rather take a less direct step, such as switching transport methods. We found that the Germans are the least likely to opt for a green hotel or conservation activities - and that market is also least happy to fund offsetting. Clearly one size does not fit all - and a green future for travel requires some important understanding of conflicting attitudes across markets."

Peter Shield

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