Green Holidays

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How green is your travel company?

For some of us, it’s that SAD time of the year.  A time of cold Winter months with long, dark days and wind and rain . . . endless rain!  And the only thing that might bring us any warm comfort is the thought of an exotic holiday in a sunny location.

Well Telegraph.co.uk recently teamed up with ResponsibleTravel.com to find out which airlines, tour operators and cruise lines are doing the most to green up their business.

They compared companies from all the above industries using the following five factors to measure their standards against:

  1. Carbon reduction: the use of green fuels, alternative energy, modern vehicles/aircraft and eco-friendly hotels, the management of waste and energy reduction.
  2. Carbon offsetting: are offsetting schemes available? Does the company make financial commitments of its own?
  3. Conservation schemes: efforts to minimise harm done to the environment by tourism.
  4. Responsible tourism (RT) policy: a strong policy, staff to put it into practice and independent audits and targets?
  5. On the ground: sourcing of local produce, services and employment of local staff; support for local social projects; efforts to ensure good relations between tourists and local people.

They have published their results here but to summarise the main ones, First Choice gave the best Green performance on behalf of the mainstream tour operators.  EasyJet (no frills category), BA and Virgin were the greenest airlines.  And the cruise lines came off the worst with little accounting for the impact their ships are having on the environment.  Royal Caribbean was the best of a bad bunch in this category. 

The results are worth bookmarking because it’s an excellent guide for people who enjoy travel but are conscious about their carbon-footprint. 

Interestingly, the article states that only 7% of travellers thus far have tried to minimise their impact on the environment by contributing towards carbon offsetting schemes and suchlike.  Perhaps many people are suspicious of the offset industry and the whole dubious belief that we can buy our way out of taking any real action against climate change.

Anyway, overall, I think it’s very encouraging and comforting to learn that the travel industry is finally facing the green issue, not just in terms of climate change, but with regard to responsible tourism and the consideration of the wider social implications of tourism (see factor 5).

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About Earthie

This is just a place to store all my head thoughts in the unfortunate event that my mind may, one day, choose to erase the lot. Hopefully m
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7 Responses to Green Holidays

  1. matt says:

    It’s good to see reports like this on more and more industries. They need wide reporting so that companies know their customers are aware. Looking at the ResponsibleTravel.com report it’s immediately obvious that there are not even enough company policies in place yet to coordinate across the board initiatives.

    Lots of work for e-consultants there. 🙂

  2. earthpal says:

    Yes, I noted that a lot of the companies just didn’t have any available info so one would naturally assume they didn’t have any decent green credentials to display.

  3. inel says:

    Excuse me while I choke on my coffee … splutter!

    EasyJet (no frills category), BA and Virgin were the greenest airlines.

    Greenest? That’s pretty easy; everything is relative …

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I am under the impression that EasyJet is responsible for significantly increasing the number of greenhouse gas emissions by offering short-haul flights between places at irresistible prices that make high-speed train travel between those locations look positively extravagant!

    Meanwhile, BA and Virgin Atlantic are the two major airlines pushing to expand Heathrow airport: both have written to their Executive Club and Flying Club members, respectively, persuasively suggesting customers add their support to online polls to add capacity at LHR. What traveller is going to say no, after those airlines have assured him in the same sentence that environmental conditions for expansion have been met?!

    Although parts of the travel industry acknowledge the green issue (as you call it) much of the information I was given by experts at a Public Exhibition on ‘Adding capacity at Heathrow airport’ last week is still very much a green veneer—emissions glossed over with a wing and a prayer that people won’t notice. It’s all left to cap-and-trade, EU ETS, green fuel, and engine technology and growth, growth, growth, which flies in the face of any commitment to tackle the real climate challenge.

  4. earthpal says:

    EasyJet was the greenest in the ‘no frills’ category but it has to be said that all of them are greenwashers to some extent or other, absolutely.

    Personally, I would support the grounding of jet air travel . . . all non-essential flights, until such a time that we have clean, safe alternative fuel. Also the cessation of all airport expansion plans.

    But it isn’t ever going to happen is it!

    The report is a good indication that travellers are finally starting to think about their impact on the planet and that the travel companies are starting to sense this change of heart, slow though it may be. Not to mention of course the environmental lobby putting on the pressure.

    I think it’s helpful to know which companies are adjusting their practises and their green attitudes, and how much/how quickly they are adjusting them. It’s to be hoped that comparing the companies like this and publishing the results would encourage them all to compete with each other.

  5. matt says:

    Who is ResponsibleTravel.com (must find out who they are) ?

    Looking at the comments section to the Torygraph is interesting;

    * Europcar UK Group, who must not have made it into the survey results have ended up extolling their virtues within the comments section! These companies are falling over themselves to impress which is a good sign. They are on a steep learning curve finding out what it is they need to do. Implementation is far more difficult than someone criticising from the sidelines. I know that from the job I do.

    Another reader of the Torygraph comments;
    *’Who audits the audit? I’m curious to know exactly how the methodology of this ‘audit’ came togther, when it was conducted and which independent authority validated it. A financial audit goes through the accounts with a fine tooth comb. Basing research from ‘available information’ seems like another lazy way contributors browse websites to hit a headline.’

    Another commenter says;
    *’What a fascinating and thought provoking topic. So many opinions ranging from, “Green? Nuffing to do wiv me”, to those who would advocate travelling everywhere via a rowing boat and pack mules. Taken on board, and in my opinion, any article that grabs the attention of Joe public and makes them think a little before their money leaves their pockets is a laudable effort on its own.’

    Looking through the reactions to this travel survey via the comment section is more interesting than the survey itself! A lot of people appear aware of the issues, are sceptical of misleading claims and reactions still vary widely as the last comment above points out.

    Certainly a hot topic for the public. Good idea EP posting it at CH.

  6. earthpal says:

    Thanks Matt.

    Interesting comments. Inel is right to be cynical but yes, it does highlight an area that needs talking about.

    People are, as you say, becoming more aware of the issues and more wary of misleading claims made by travel companies. And it’s to be hoped that as more of the greenwashing by the travel industry is exposed, the sooner they will be forced to come up with genuine green policies. Or go under.

    ResponsibleTravel.com – this is who they say they are:

    http://www.responsibletravel.com/Copy/Copy101691.htm

    Does seem pretty genuine and it was endorsed by the likes of Anita Roddick.

  7. matt says:

    The organisation looks kosher to me and has been instrumental they claim in moving the travel industry forward. They seem to act as a pressure group as well as a business. An interesting combination which I’m seeing more and more of these days.

    Their site offers ‘independently published travellers feedback which is used to help tour companies improve their practices.’

    To pick up on one other point of inels; BA are obviously in the business of flying people all over the globe. What they have been doing for the last 10 years is publishing emissions statistics and attempting to get these down by purchasing the latest aircraft. It’s in their cost interests to do so.

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