The travel industry cannot offer a “quick fix” to the problem of carbon emissions, the boss of TUI has admitted.

Speaking at World Travel Market’s World Responsible Tourism Day, TUI Travel chief executive officer Peter Long said the company planned to cut its carbon footprint by 6% by 2014. However, he admitted that long-term structural changes were a challenge.

“It is headline-grabbing if you say you can make a demonstrable difference in two to three years. It is a slow burn,” he added. “The issues are long term. There is no solution to second-generation bio-fuels in the short term.”

Long said that TUI’s aircraft emitted just under 80g of carbon per passenger kilometre against an industry average of 90g-120g.

“We are already more efficient because we fill our aircraft more,” he added.

TUI is the European launch customer for the Boeing 787, which burns 20% less fuel than the aircraft it replaces.

Long said the vertically integrated operator is also working with hotels to improve their green credentials, as opposed to simply weeding them out from their programmes.

He said: “It takes time and investment. We believe in co-operating and working closely with partners, it is a more
constructive way of getting what you want.

“It is difficult with a property built 40 years ago. In the medium term, that hotel will probably not have a future
but we can’t destroy huge swathes of hotels.

“In the next 10 years the landscape is going to change dramatically and that is the window we are looking at.”

Long said a return to the days of travel being just for the privileged was not an option for most destinations.
“There is a social and economic benefit that tourism brings to the communities around the world.”

But he said holiday costs would rise because emissions would have to be paid for through trading schemes.

He also dismissed Air Passenger Duty as an instrument of environmental protection, because its funds do not go directly to green projects.