The climate crisis and Responsible Travel

Responsible travel is an activist holiday company. We believe that when done well, tourism can create many benefits to local communities and help with the conservation of natural and cultural heritage. We also believe that this way of travelling is richer and more enjoyable too.

However, there is an urgent need for all businesses, the tourism sector included, to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. As pioneers of selling responsible holidays since 2001, we are focussed more than ever on this. Part of our mission is to work with our community (customers and travel company members) to reduce the carbon emissions from our holidays in line with science based targets).

We believe that we need to act urgently to tackle the rising effects of emissions from our holidays. We need to fly less and when we do fly, make it count, and address the other components of holidays such as the energy used in the places we stay as well as the food we eat.

We are calling for a three pronged approach:

  • 1. Urgent system change centred around the introduction of a Green Flying Duty to reduce the amount we fly, by governments around the world. Revenues would be ring fenced for investment into lower carbon transport. We’ve been lobbying hard for this and we continue to engage with regulators, Government and the media around this proposal.


  • 2. Action from customers to: ‘Fly less and make it count’ – a view we’ve consistently voiced since 2009. We urge people to take fewer but longer holiday by air (reducing the number of flights) and to switch short breaks from plane to train. As well as being better for the planet, this way of travelling is more relaxing and enjoyable too.

    We now include information about how to reduce your holiday CO2 in The Responsible Tourism section at the bottom of every one of our holiday pages and have made a film on how to curb your carbon.

    All our holidays can be booked without flights so customers can choose their method of transport. As well as transport, we urge customers to think about the food they eat as well as the energy used in the places they choose to stay whilst away on holiday. Our 2020 research revealed the relative scale of CO2 emissions from transport, food and accommodation for four of our holidays. Transport, especially flying, is of course very significant, but you might be surprised how significant a contribution food makes, especially meat.

  • 3. Action from our tour operator members. We are working with our members to encourage lower carbon holidays: train and overland routes from a transport perspective, energy efficient accommodation and lower climate impacting food options too.

    We have created a low carbon holiday section - for trips which are going that extra mile to reduce the carbon footprint of travel.

    We also have a flight free section to highlight trips which can be reached from the UK by means other than flying.

    We are one of the few travel companies who do not support or believe in carbon offsets - we stopped offering them in 2009. We don’t believe they work and think they distract from the urgent need for carbon reduction. Instead we encourage carbon reduction schemes in their own right such as the funding of carefully chosen natural carbon absorption solutions, including tree planting.

    We are founding signatories of http://www.tourismdeclares.com/ - a network of organisations, companies and individuals working in tourism who have come together to join other industries and regions in declaring a climate emergency.

In our climate hub you’ll find tips on what you can do to reduce the emissions of your holidays, as well as information and greater detail on our activist views.

Written by Justin Francis
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