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Climate Friendly Travel - Why the Future of Travel is Looking Cleaner & Greener

Green Travel In Taiwan ©MDHarding

As an avid traveller, it concerns me greatly that my travel affects the climate of our beautiful planet. So I have been looking at ways to reduce my climate footprint, planting trees, offsetting, flying less often and staying for longer periods. I am excited to share more on the future of clean and green travel by Mark Bibby Jackson at Travel Begins At 40.

Clean and Green - The Future of Tourist Travel

After the pasting the pandemic handed out to the tourism sector, it would not be surprising if the industry demanded a growth at all costs policy to redress the losses of the past 18 months.

However, this is not the case.

A World Travel and Tourism Council report released in June states: “There has been growing awareness around climate, environmental and social issues … It is increasingly clear that we should respond with the same urgency and vigour to the climate crisis as we are to COVID-19, not only on ethical grounds but also because the travellers of tomorrow will demand it.” (The emphasis is theirs not mine).

Various reports have indicated that the pandemic has changed the way that people view travel. For instance, research carried out by in March this year indicated that 73% of Americans feel that sustainable travel is vital. Other reports have indicated a similar attitude on this side of the Atlantic, with 77% of UK citizens saying they would consider the environment when choosing their future travel.

The message is clear. Covid is not the only crisis in town. Any recovery plan should account for the climate crisis, which, if anything, will have greater consequences upon both humankind and the planet than Covid.

Putting Good Words into Action

The traveller of the 2020s wants their travel to have less environmental impact than previous generations. Avoiding single-use plastics, opting for towels and bed linen not to be cleaned every day, and turning off the air conditioning are measures that many travellers are familiar with and now implement.

According to’s survey, most (61%) would choose accommodation providers that have implemented sustainable practices and would use environmentally-friendly travel options while in their destination (71%). Just over a third (36%) shop at local stores to support the local economy.

Quite simply, travellers want to do the right thing.

Do We Really Need To Fly?

Transport, predominantly flights, is responsible for roughly half of the global tourism industry’s carbon footprint. Aviation contributed 915 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2019. This is estimated to be some 3% of global CO2 emissions. Any meaningful attempt to reduce this needs to take into account the carbon impact of how we travel to destinations, as well as what we do once there.

One approach is to take an alternative form of transport, whether it is a train, coach or even cycling, wherever possible.

Opting to take the train to your destination is generally cleaner than flying. This makes sense for travelling within the UK or around Europe but doesn’t get you very far if you are planning a fortnight’s break in the Maldives, or are visiting relatives in New Zealand.

Covid has demonstrated just how many small island states—such as the Maldives, Seychelles and those in the Caribbean—are reliant upon international flights for their economic stability; the same international flights that are contributing to putting them most at risk from climate change. But because they are heavily dependent upon tourism revenue, simply taking these destinations off your holiday bucket list might solve one problem but create another.

Clearly, some destinations need international flights. The question is