Surveys find conflicting attitudes by the travelling public to climate change and the environment
Fri 10 Oct 2008 – A survey carried out by travel portal Trivago found its European members had different reactions to travel and global warming. Only 16% of Britons changed their travel plans due to climate change, with 80% of respondents saying they were sceptical about global warming and 40% believing it was just media hype. The Italians, in comparison, are less cynical about climate change but also less likely to change their travel habits.
The French (15%) were found to the most likely to stay in an ecologically friendly hotel compared with only 5% of Spanish travellers.
Over 2,000 Trivago members were surveyed and the overall results show that the rising price of flights is influencing travel plans more than increasing discussions about global warming.
Although the Brits don’t come out of the Trivago survey covered in green glory, a different image emerges from another travel survey just released by the Association of British Tour Operators (ABTA). It found a significant proportion of holiday-makers are concerned about the environmental and social impact of their holiday with 83% saying that it was important that their holiday should not damage the environment.
Over half (54%) the respondents to the 2008 British Holiday Survey carried out by Ipsos MORI said they were interested in finding out more about the local environmental and social issues in their chosen resort before they booked a holiday. Over three-quarters (77%) believe it is important that local people benefit from the tourism in their area, while 83% of travellers say it is important their holiday should involve trying the local cuisine and experiencing local culture.
“Climate change is the biggest challenge the industry faces,” commented Keith Richards, ABTA’s Head of Business Development and Consumer Affairs, who is also in charge of ABTA’s CSR policies. “The scientific evidence is compelling. In the last seven years we have seen changes that would normally take 1,000 years, and that has consequences for every environment around the globe. A number of industries are streets ahead of us, but the travel industry has taken a lead on responsible tourism.
“Often, people are concerned that taking the responsible route will be more expensive. ABTA’s role is to help deliver the tools to mitigate the negative impact that travel can do, and improve the benefits.”
To this end, ABTA has rolled out what it describes as an “all-in-one solution” to help manage the environmental and social issues facing travel agents and tour operators. The Travelife Sustainability System is an initiative that the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) – which recently merged with ABTA – has developed with funding from the European Commission and the input of about 60 different organizations from around the world.
The System provides a set of guidelines for both tour operators and their suppliers to follow, which can be rated through an online checking system. Hotels and accommodation providers can then be assessed as having reached the levels of ‘bronze’, ‘silver’ or ‘gold’, depending on how successful they are at being sustainable and socially engaged businesses.
ABTA says UK tour operators are already beginning to display the awards in their brochures for hotels worldwide and it hopes that a single recognizable brand will be built globally.
Chris Thompson, FTO’s Head of Responsible Tourism, who has developed the Travelife Sustainability System, said: “This is not another ‘eco-label’ or ‘environmental management certificate’, it is a sustainability recognition scheme that enables businesses to actively promote their environmental and general sustainability efforts to as wide an audience as possible.”