The UK travel industry has continued to welcome yesterday’s decision to build the £9 billion third runway at Heathrow although it has urged the government to remember its environmental responsibilities.

The announcement made by transport secretary Geoff Hoon in the House of Commons has already drawn the support of both ABTA and the airlines.

Now other parts of the trade have added their support to the decision which has also included a pledge to develop high-speed rail links to the north and Scotland, connecting the UK to Europe too.

VisitBritain’s executive chairman Christopher Rodrigues said the additional runway would help the airport compete in the increasingly tough international tourism market.

He added: “Tourism means jobs and this is a very positive decision for Britain’s tourism industry. St Pancras and Terminal 5 have shown how valuable it is to get the right infrastructure for domestic and international travel.

“These proposals will make Britain’s fifth biggest industry – tourism – even more competitive and offer all tourists better access to the whole of Britain.

“New infrastructure must be built, but it must be built responsibly. The tourism industry is committed to continuing its investments to reduce its carbon footprint.  In a resource constrained world, 21st century tourism has to be responsible tourism.”

UKinbound chief executive Mary Rance said: “For a number of years Heathrow has been handling many more passengers than it was designed for and unfortunately the quality of service for passengers, and in particular the welcome for inbound visitors, has suffered.

“We only need to look to recent surveys of international travellers, who on many occasions vote Heathrow as their least favourite airport, to realise that the extra capacity is essential to match the level of service found elsewhere in Europe.

“The third runway will also reduce the number of aircraft currently circling the skies above London waiting to land and polluting the skies while they are at it.

“The additional incentive for only aircraft meeting tight emission standards to be allocated the increased landing slots will mean fewer carbon emissions from aviation in the long-run.

“The new high speed rail link to St Pancras and the North of England will provide a much needed alternative to flying within the UK and to near Europe.”

Travel Trust Association and TTA Worldchoice managing director Simon Hargreaves added: “We welcome the government’s decision.

“However, looking forward the industry needs to work out strategies to reduce the growth in air travel and recognise that not to do so would be damaging to both the planet and our future business opportunities.”

Board of Airline Representatives in the UK chief executive Mike Carrivick said: “The lack of runway and terminal capacity at Heathrow has steadily increased congestion and delays.

“Aircraft waiting to land are often held in stacking queues leading to wasted time for travellers, and to unnecessary emissions for those areas over which aircraft are held. Departing aircraft are also held in lengthy queues on the ground causing similar damaging effects.”