We are often asked: "How can a holiday be responsible if you have to fly to get there?"
Of course nearly every aspect of our lives and businesses contributes in some way to carbon dioxide emissions, and flying is no exception. Global warming poses a severe threat to those things that responsible travellers hold most dear - the welfare of local communities around the world and the conservation of the earth's natural and cultural heritage.
Figures vary but recent research shows that aviation accounts for approximately 2.6% of global CO2 emissions (The Stern Report) or 5.6% of CO2 emissions from the UK. It is thought to be more damaging than other sources of emission (possibly by a factor of two) because it is emitted at altitude. It is also the fastest growing of all contributions to global warming.
The dilemma is twofold – firstly that tourism provides real benefits to local communities and local conservation initiatives (particularly in developing countries), and secondly unlike other fuels there is no greener alternative to aviation fuel (kerosene) on the horizon. So what is the responsible tourist to do?
We believe that responsible tourism can bring many positive benefits to destinations and help to reduce poverty. Indeed, according to the World Tourism Organization (WTO) tourism employs 1 in 10 people globally.
Whilst the aviation industry are working very hard to improve the fuel efficiency of planes and reduce emissions in other ways including improving flight paths and patterns it is clear that the projected growth in air travel will outstrip any efficiency savings. There is much debate about the efficacy of carbon offset schemes, and in our view they provide a dangerous distraction from the real need to reduce our emissions. Given this we feel we need to accept that we need to fly less, not carbon offset (which we no longer offer), if we are to reach tough global emission reduction targets. Read more on our carbon caution page
This means that we as tourists need to change the way in which we holiday, and that Governments need to take stronger action to enforce change. However it is equally clear that aviation is here to stay, and that people will continue to fly for leisure. When people do decide to fly (see our thoughts and tips below) it is even more important than ever that we choose responsible holidays – those that seek to reduce the CO2 impacts on our holidays in destinations, support local community programs and community development.
We have always explained how every holiday seeks to address social and environmental issues in the destinations. We are the only travel company to do this for every holiday, and do so to enable the tourist to make a more informed choice about their holidays.
Holiday close to home
Wherever you are in the world, think about taking your holiday closer to home. Taking a 'staycation' can be a great way to get to know the culture and local secrets of your own back yard, and won't cost you, or the earth!
We are huge fans of train travel. It’s a great way to see a destination and has a much lower carbon impact than flying. We encourage travellers to take the train when possible.
You'll find a wide range of holiday options on the site that are based in Europe and reachable by train if you live in the UK.
Book your Europe and worldwide train tickets
on our site.