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Responsibletravel.com does U-turn on carbon offsetting

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Justin Francis, MD, responsibletravel.com says: "We have thought long and hard about how we can continue to offer our customers the leading advice they expect from a responsible tourism business when it comes to the fast growing impact of flying on the environment. We believe that the travel industry’s priority must be to reduce carbon emissions, rather than to offset."

He continues: "Too often offsets are being used by the tourism industry in developed countries to justify growth plans on the basis that money will be donated to projects in developing countries. Global reduction targets will not be met this way."

Francis is removing the carbon offsetting programme following the recent report by Friends of the Earth, labelling offsets as a "dangerous distraction". The report stated: "Carbon offsets distract tourists from the need to reduce their emissions. They create a ‘medieval pardon’ for us to carry on behaving in the same way (or worse)."

Francis concludes: "Ultimately we need to reduce our carbon emissions. We can do this by flying less – travelling by train or taking holidays closer to home for example, and by making carbon reductions in other areas of our lifestyles too, alongside travel.

"There is no hiding the fact that tourists will continue to want to visit destinations requiring a flight, and that tourism contributes to livelihoods, local economic development and the conservation of the world’s cultural and natural heritage. We will continue to offer a more responsible choice of overseas holiday so that when tourists do fly they can ‘make their holiday count’ by choosing a more responsible holiday."

This is not just lip service to the cause, either. The Responsibletravel.com founder now offers over 200 UK-based holidays on the website and, interestingly, the UK is now the best-selling destination on the website as many of its customers chose to holiday closer to home. Beyond British shores, Responsibletravel.com, which turned over £20m last year, offers over 3,500 holidays around the world, all of which can be booked as "land only" holidays.

For further information and advice see: www.responsibletravel.com/carboncaution

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