British holidaymakers lose their sense of responsible and sustainable behaviour when travelling overseas, new research claims.

Adventure travel specialist Explore found that while habits at home are increasingly being adapted to conserve energy and minimise waste, these are being neglected when people go on holiday.

For example, British travellers are 50% less likely to recycle when on holiday. While most people (77%) frequently recycle at home, only 38% do so when on holiday.

Travellers are also 60% less likely to reuse towels for more than a day or two, or to turn off lights and appliances when abroad.

Explore says it consciously strives to reduce wastage and minimise the environmental impact of its small group trips.

A new responsible tourism pledge asks customers and staff to travel with a reusable water bottle, to reuse towels and sheets and turn off lights and water when not in use.

Explore also strives to minimise single-use plastics, both at its UK office and on all of its trips.

The study also found that 28% prefer a British guide on holiday. But it is by travelling with a local leader that visitors can get under the skin of a destination and better understand the place they are visiting.

Explore trips include local hotels and homestays, and recommend local restaurants, meaning a more authentic experience for the traveller and direct economic benefit for the communities visited.

Almost a third (30%) of surveyed tourists would enjoy a zoo visit to see wildlife; 23% would take an elephant safari and 28% would like to swim with dolphins.

Explore is raising awareness of the dangers of visiting animals in unnatural environments. The company visits sanctuaries, where important conservation work is done, rather than zoos and bans elephant rides.

The operator has created a 12-point pledge, outlining tips for travellers to minimise any negative impact on the destinations they visit.

Managing director John Telfer said: “Unfortunately this research of the broader British travelling public shows that our second-nature behaviours at home aren’t always translating to our holidays, and that there’s still a real lack of understanding about which activities and behaviours could be considered unethical or not sustainable.

“We’re used to turning lights off, using recyclable bottles and reusing towels when we’re at home; why does this all go out the window on holiday?

“As a tour operator, Explore has a responsibility to tackle these issues, and we take a public stand against activities like elephant rides and visits to schools and orphanages.

“It is crucial to us that we and our customers are always welcome back in the destinations we visit, and we strive to make sure that holidaymakers and locals get the maximum benefit from our trips.

“Crucially, travels need to be enjoyable, fun and fulfilling in order to be sustainable.

“In travelling with local guides, visiting local restaurants and hotels, you’re having a more real, more authentic experience of the places you’re visiting. The fact that you’re also putting money into the heart of the community you’re visiting is a fortunate by-product.

“We always want to be welcomed back to the places we visit.”