Wednesday 17 January 2007

Concern for a world that may soon be lost

There’s no escaping it. Concern for the environment will attract more government intervention and much more interest from the media.

Awareness of the damage done by aircraft emission may have already prompted small, but significant changes in holiday patterns. According to research done by AXA Insurance, more than 22.4 million Britons will holiday in Britain and Ireland. Many of them will also travel abroad, but home destinations will take up more of the short break market.

Scotland will promote itself as the world’s first carbon neutral destination and has set up a Green tourism business scheme and sustainable tourism partnership.

In Wales, William McNamara is building a holiday village in Narberth West Wales which he hopes will benefit from the surge of interest in the ecological balance. It will include a sub tropical water world with water rides and wave pools. He also plans to do a ‘Dubai’ with a ski centre and indoor ski slopes.

Business travellers are also embracing green travel policies.

Airlines will try to reduce their emissions, by flying aircraft made from lighter composite materials such as the ones used in the Boeing Dreamliner. Richard Branson has pledged future profits in a bid to create an environmentally friendly fuel – an equivalent of ethanol for the air. Additionally, Virgin has started testing the effects of towing its aircrafts to take-off positions in Gatwick and Heathrow. They hope to save 2 tonnes of aviation fuel per aircraft by this single decision. Other airlines are examining ways of offsetting their emissions by buying forests which otherwise may be susceptible to felling. All will be involved in carbon trading.

Overseas destinations have the potential to make a significant contribution as well. They can do a lot to prevent smog and pollution damaging their tourist business. Some will follow Brazil’s lead in the substitution of imported oil with Ethanol from sugar cane or other natural material such as corn husks. Other countries will re-green their countries with new forests including mangroves.

For most of them however, the biggest and most rapid response would be to embrace solar energy. The faster countries that import oil and have lots of sunshine do this, the sooner technology will bring prices of solar panels down to more affordable levels.

The countries that promote their green policies will definitely do better in attracting tourists than the ones who bury their heads in the deserts to come. Despite what the cynics claim, the British travelling public will make adjustments to their holiday habits, if they can see a benefit for the world which doesn’t overly hurt them financially. Enlightened altruism is the new mantra.

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