Travellers urged to consider environment

UK’s Environment Minister Elliot Morley today urged holidaymakers planning to travel abroad at Easter to reduce their effect on the environment. Morley made the appeal to coincide with the start of the Government’s own voluntary scheme to offset carbon emissions arising from official flights which starts this week.

Money contributed by Government Departments under this offsetting initiative will purchase emissions reductions generated by renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, which reduce carbon emissions in developing countries.

Morley also welcomed a new UK travel industry initiative to cut its carbon emissions.

The Travel Foundation is setting up new carbon emission reduction programmes designed to reduce the “carbon footprint” of British holidaymakers in destinations worldwide by means of initiatives such as low energy technology in hotels, better insulation and the use of low carbon tourist vehicles.

Holidaymakers can support the work of the Travel Foundation by making a donation when they book with operators including First Choice Holidays, Thomas Cook, and Sunvil, or by visiting thetravelfoundation.org.uk, or by texting the word “donate” to 61199.

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The carbon offsetting initiative is complemented by a new Civil Service Travel Group, which will facilitate best practice guidance and generate ideas that develop and deliver sustainable travel policies for Government as a whole.

The new initiative, starting initially with Defra, is aimed at reducing the environmental consequences of official travel, including their carbon emissions. Material will be made available to officials which will allow them to make more sustainable travel choices.

Mr Morley said:

“The government takes seriously the impact of its own activities on the environment and I am pleased our offsetting scheme is now coming into force; also that government as a whole is working to develop more sustainable travel policies.

“I also very warmly welcome the Travel Foundation’s initiative, which builds on some excellent sustainability work they have been doing in resorts overseas.

“In the past, tourists have not fully recognised the environmental damage they can cause, particularly when travelling abroad. By donating to the Travel Foundation, and also by offsetting their flights, they can return something to benefit the environment.”

“With growing prosperity, we need and want to travel more. Our job is to enable people to travel whilst at the same time meeting our environmental obligations; individuals can play their part by offsetting their air flights, from which emissions are rising.”

Dermot Blastland, Managing Director of the Mainstream Holidays Sector of First Choice PLC and a trustee of the Travel Foundation, said:

“First Choice is committed to working to reduce the environmental impacts of all our activities, and our support for the valuable work being done by the Travel Foundation is a key part of our focus on sustainability. We are delighted that most of our customers choose to make a donation to the foundation.”

“The partnership between the UK travel industry and the Travel Foundation, with the Government’s welcome encouragement, is still unique in the world, and we are pleased to be at the forefront of work towards making sustainability a fundamental part of travel.”

The new Travel Foundation schemes are specifically focused on reducing the carbon emissions of tourism in resort destinations, and complement the Foundation’s existing range of sustainability programmes combating poverty and promoting conservation of destination environments and their wildlife enjoyed by British holidaymakers worldwide; further information about the Foundation’s work is on its website at http://www.thetravelfoundation.org.uk .
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