The Association of Independent Tour Operators will be focusing on the threat of global warming at its annual conference which starts this Friday (November 23).

Chairman Derek Moore said the issue could no longer be ignored by the travel industry and added that AITO should lead the way in offering more environmentally-friendly breaks.

He added the conference in Estoril, Portugal, would provide the opportunity to persuade operators of the importance of acting immediately.

Moore said: “We are getting more and more warnings that the planet is in trouble and people are saying one of the main reasons for this is the travel business.

“The idea of the conference is to get speakers who think there’s a bit of a doomsday scenario and hopefully come to the conclusion that either everything’s overstated or that we need to pull our socks up.”

Journalist and author of The Final Call: In Search of the True Cost of Our Holidays Leo Hickman, the first guest speaker of the conference, said he will be discussing the environmental damage caused by tourism.

He added: “The travel industry as a whole is being slow to address the issue when it has the most to lose from climate change.”