Travel agents are failing to live up to the standards of sustainable travel by “heating the high street”.

Seven out of 10 agents admitted wasting money and energy by leaving the door open whatever the season.

In an Abta survey, agents said their ‘open door’ policy ensures customers know the shop is open. At the same time, three-quarters of the 530 respondents said they were trying to reduce the energy consumed by their business.

Simon Pickup, Abta sustainable tourism manager, said: “People in retail units are not aware of their monthly energy bills, although 76% control their own heating. They are paying to heat the high street.”

He added: “Agents have a chance to make savings through simple measures. In the current climate, it’s something they need to do.”

Industry charity The Travel Foundation is poised to launch a campaign presenting the business case for sustainability, including cutting costs. Travel Foundation chief executive Sue Hurdle said: “People may not consciously ask for sustainable products, but what they want on holiday is what makes the industry sustainable.”

The issue is not confined to agents. A spokesman for the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said shop doors are frequently kept open.

“It is important shops are inviting and accessible, especially for people with mobility difficulties,” he said.

“Retailers will tell you more customers enter when the door is open. All our members would be conscious of the implications of having doors open.”

Thomas Cook said it had installed ‘smart’ meters, which show how much energy a shop is using, in 90% of stores.

A spokesman said: “They have reduced consumption quite significantly.”

This article appeared in a special responsible travel edition of Travel Weekly magazine, in association with Virgin Holidays

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