Tui Specialist division has seen a 38% increase in year-on-year sales for hotels rated by sustainability grading system Travelife. The Tui division, which includes Sovereign, Hayes & Jarvis and Austravel, has seen traffic from searches for ‘sustainable holidays’ jump 35%.

Tui Specialist managing director Claire Tobin said: “Sustainability is becoming more important to us because customers are expecting it. We expected to see that two years ago but we didn’t. The growth is coming from searches so we are doing a lot of search engine optimisation around that.”

She warned companies must not be seen to pay lip service to sustainability. “You’ve got to be careful what you focus on because it can seem like you are just giving money to charity.”

Abta chairman John McEwan added: “In two years time we will see customers seeking accreditations.”

This month a new Travelife website was launched on May 23 that included a new guide for business that register from the Travel Foundation called Getting Started in Sustainability. The launch came as new Poulus research found 58% of consumers believe it is useful to include logos rating hotels for sustainability in brochures.

Chris Thompson, Travelife manager, said: “Travelife has become the international certification scheme of choice for the travel industry and because the Travelife logo is now being displayed in tour operators’ brochures and websites, it will differentiate businesses.

“Consumers will know that if they book a Travelife property it will be working hard to reduce negative impacts and promote good environmental and social practice and it is fast becoming a trusted and familiar logo, particularly as it is based on European and International standards.”

Tobin said Tui Specialist has become more focused on offering exclusive product, good value and destination knowledge in the last five years. “Looking at our sales from January to March this year, 60% of our margin has come from exclusive value offers.

“For the future, we need to look at costs because we need to grow the market and the margins are getting tougher. We will be looking at more efficient ways of operating.”

Travelife will be supporting this year’s Make Holidays Greener Week, which will be held from July 2.