OF all the jargon used in the travel industry, one piece sticks out beyond the rest; even more so than ‘dynamic packaging’.
The term eco-tourism has been with us for some time, but the industry is no clearer as to what makes a holiday ‘green’ or not.
A new guide from Lonely Planet hopes to redress that, and inspire travellers to take more environmentally-sound breaks.
Cleaner and greener
Code Green: Experiences of a Lifetime is a reference book filled with suggestions for environmentally-conscious travellers. There are 82 journeys spread over 216 pages, with stand-alone features on social and environmental issues.
So how does Lonely Planet define ecotourism? Information manager Tom Hall said the guide seeks to go beyond green and to broaden the remit to responsible travel.
“From a traveller’s point of view it’s about taking responsibility for your actions. Responsible travel is about minimising or eliminating your environmental impact, respecting the local culture and ensuring your presence brings financial benefit for the host nation.
“It doesn’t mean giving up travel altogether – tourism can be a force of good.”
Minimising your environmental footprint has become big business recently. Carbon offset projects are increasingly commonplace, but are they a just a panacea for a guilty conscience or do they really work?
“It’s not really a black-and-white issue,” said Hall. “Flying pumps out carbon, and planting a tree can help reduce it. But it may take a tree 20 years to have an effect. There’s a lot of research going into the science at the moment, and as it evolves we should evolve with it.”
Lonely Planet has been careful to practise what it preaches – all staff business travel has been offset since the start of the year, and employees are encouraged to offset their holiday travel.
Carbon offsetting is a quick win for the eco-conscious traveller – easy to organise and inexpensive. But how can you ensure the rest of your eco-friendly holiday is all it’s cracked up to be?
How do you avoid the ‘greenwash’ that glosses over the real issues? Hall said asking the operator questions is the simplest way.
“It they’re really into it, they’ll reel off all kinds of stories and information. If they’re not forthcoming and just mutter something about recycling that’s an indication they’re not really serious.”
To win one of five copies of Code Green – normally priced at £14.99 – just answer the following question:
Q. Name one way to reduce carbon emissions.
Send your entries to Code Green, Travel Weekly, Quadrant House, The Quadrant, Sutton, Surrey, SM2 5AS, by August 31, giving your name, agency and daytime phone number.
The first five correct entries drawn win a book.