Less traveling for UK travelers, but ethics and green issues still matter


Nearly half of the UK population have already scaled back their holiday plans as a result of the recession, but two thirds still plan to take more eco-friendly holidays.

A survey of over 1,000 adults in the UK, released today by the consultancy Good Business, suggests that the recession is already forcing consumers to change their holiday plans. 46 percent of consumers said they had already scaled back their holiday plans as a result of the current economic climate.

eTN Chatroom: Discuss with readers from around the world:

The recession may be one driver behind changes in holiday plans, however concern about the social and environmental impact of holidays are also changing what people plan to do. 61 percent of consumers say they are planning to find out more about the social and environmental impact of their holiday and 55 percent say they plan to choose holiday destinations which can be reached by train or boat rather than flying.

Giles Gibbons, founder and CEO of Good Business, said: “With less money in their pockets it seems many holidaymakers plan to look for cheaper alternatives in the UK this year. Some might see this as good news from an environmental perspective, with reductions in things like flights. However the social impact on foreign holiday destinations, many of which depend on tourism for employment and investment, could be devastating.”

Center Parcs, the UK family holiday company, tops the list of holiday companies in relation to how well they are addressing social and environmental issues.

Martin Dalby, chief executive from Center Parcs, said: “We are delighted to come out on top of this survey. Care for the environment and high ethical standards are at the very heart of Center Parcs and as a business we are committed to ensuring these are part of all our holidays.”

Consumers may think one holiday company is better than another, however most admitted they find it difficult to get the right information. 76 percent of consumers felt they did not have enough information about social and environmental impacts of holidays to allow them to make an informed choice.

Justin Francis, founder of the travel website responsibletravel.com, said:
“It’s fantastic to see that consumers are welcoming the responsibletravel.com approach to business. What this research and our own growth in the last eight years shows is that there is a staggering unmet demand for more information and for more responsible holidays that deliver stronger benefits to communities and destinations. Now it is up to the industry to listen to consumers and to act sooner rather than later.”

2009 is likely to be a tough year for many holiday companies, however those companies that can manage to match value with values (both social and environmental) and tell their customers about it may just stand out from the crowd be able to ride out the current economic storm.