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Published on Thursday, October 9, 2008

Holidaymakers don't care about the planet

Holidaymakers don't care about carbon offsetting and do not enquire about a company´s green credentials when they make a booking.

Speaking during a session on the environment entitled 'Tourism 2023', Co-operative Travel general manager Mike Greenacre said we were a long way from convincing people of the merits of taking so-called green holidays.

“There is a scepticism out there,” he said. “People want to know what the holiday is and what the value is. They don´t go into a travel agent and ask if you do carbon offsetting.”

Tourism 2023 is a long term strategy to deal with the environmental challenges of the next 15 years and, on December 4, a panel consisting of members of top travel companies will consider scenarios on how the industry might look in 2023.

TUI Travel UK and Ireland managing director Dermot Blastland said it was important for companies to co-operate and admitted that environmental policies also made good business sense as the company had saved hundreds of thousands of pounds in resorts by conserving energy.

“Most of what we do is good business sense anyway,” he said. “We´ve seen hundreds of thousands of pounds dropping out of the cost of running hotels just by doing things that make good sense.”

Carnival UK chief commercial officer Peter Shanks admitted that the need to drive down costs had been the company's most important issue, but this had the knock-on benefit of reducing its carbon footprint.

“With the rising cost of oil, we've been slowing down ships and cutting down on the air conditioning,” he said. “The driver is cost.”

British Airways manager of environmental affairs Trudie Drake said putting up air passenger duty as a tax on travellers was not necessarily the way forward.

“The amount of money taken in APD tax is enough to offset our operation twice over but you need to look at what happens to the money. At the moment it just goes into the Treasury coffers.”

Earlier the Prince of Wales, a passionate environmentalist, backed the travel industry's plans to help sustain the planet and urged people to visit his Rainforest Projects website

By Jeremy Skidmore

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