New report reveals innovations in sustainability will shape our holidays of tomorrow
Our annual break in the sun is being redefined as holidaymakers, tour operators, hotels and resorts all adapt and innovate to save the world’s ever dwindling resources. According to a major report published today, sustainable holidays must represent the future of mass tourism.
Carried out for Thomson Holidays by The Future Laboratory, the Sustainable Holiday Futures report1 reveals that change is needed to prevent a number of bleak scenarios from becoming reality by 2030. These include the loss of world heritage sites such as Venice, Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, Machu Picchu in Peru and the Great Pyramids of Egypt, which are all threatened by the weight of visitor numbers.
Such threats have created what the authors have termed ‘last chancers’ – tourists rushing to see historic sites and remote locations such as Antarctica and the Everglades before they are destroyed by climate change and over-development.
Faced with a sobering range of drivers and consequences, the travel industry is already responding with innovative and inventive ways of turning mass tourism into part of the solution. For its part, Thomson Holidays will become the world’s first travel company to introduce the unique Waterpebble2 into its hotel rooms from January 2011 – adding to the 20 major commitments to sustainability made as part of its Holidays Forever programme3. The ingenious Waterpebble sits in a shower’s plughole and glows red when too much water is being used – it will be given to hotel guests as a gift to take home after their holiday.
As part of the report, Thomson has also unveiled its hotel room of the future, which includes a wide range of energy saving features which they predict will be commonplace in the coming years. The room features:
• A water-efficient bathroom where water from the wash basin and shower is used to flush the toilet; also featuring a shower with eco-flow controls and a Waterpebble to monitor water usage.
• High-efficiency windows that minimise glare and heat into the room which can also be ‘dimmed’, reducing the need for air conditioning and removing the need for curtains; natural foliage outside the room would also be used to reduce the temperature inside.
• Re-usable water bottles filled with filtered water removing the need for bottled water.
• Low energy coved ceiling lights powered by the resort’s own wind turbines and solar panels.
• A personalised climate control system that automatically understands the occupant’s optimal temperature settings to avoid energy waste.
• A heat-activated multi-touchscreen to communicate information on the occupant’s energy use, sustainability and other resort activities.
• Fresh fruit from the resort’s garden and greenhouses and furniture from local craftspeople.
Thomson has committed to working with all its hotels to make them all greener within five years as part of its Holidays Forever campaign3, and has launched sustainability guidelines for its hotel new builds, so customers could expect to see innovative features like these in hotel rooms as standard in the near future.
Looking ahead to 2030 the report predicts a number of exciting new trends and developments including:
• Imagined villages built on former urban or brownfield sites, created as artificial or imagined worlds to provide respite from the real world.
• Aqua-villages – zero-impact floating resorts which harvest energy from the sun, wind and rain, locally source all materials and food and which can be moved leaving no trace of its presence.
• The transformation of the world’s largest airports into aerovilles – destinations in their own right featuring state-of-the-art cinemas, hotels and restaurants.
• Second-generation biofuels developed from algae which will be mixed with jet fuel to power aircraft with significantly reduced carbon emissions.
• A new generation of airships featuring stunning, cathedral-like internal spaces housing bars, restaurants and even apartments, recreating the golden age of travel and creating a new style of travel called ‘slowtopianism’.
And as sustainability becomes the new normal – a fundamental part of holiday decision-making rather than an add-on or after-thought – the report anticipates that holidaymakers will:
• Take philanthro-trips undertaking voluntary work in the local community in exchange for perks such as additional days’ holiday or spa treatments.
• Take tradecations where they reduce their carbon footprint in return for carbon reward points that can be traded for trips to places of interest or dinner in the hotel restaurant, for example.
• Face up to water shame if they waste water, while being incentivised for reducing water use. The report suggests people may pay additionally for the amount of water they use, whereas other services such as wi-fi and in-room entertainment which are often paid for at present, may be free.
• Become carbo-tourists who check a resort’s carbon emission levels before booking.
• Pick up responsible traveller kits4 at the airport or within their resort containing energy saving technology such as a solar powered toothbrush, shaver and mobile phone and the Waterpebble.
“In order to meet the demands of social, environmental and legislative changes over the next decade, we need a radical shift in how sustainable holidays look and feel, and the way in which we all behave on holiday,” said Jane Ashton, Head of Sustainable Development at Thomson Holidays.
“Our first challenge is to raise awareness and travel companies have a responsibility to lead their customers into a brave new world of sustainable travel. Holidaymakers expect their travel companies to provide the information and tools they need to become more sustainable”.
Continued Jane Ashton: “We are optimistic that by making sustainability the new norm over the longer term, we can all continue travelling, while preserving the integrity of resorts and protecting the world’s resources”.
Notes to Editors:
1 The Sustainable Holiday Futures report was carried out by The Future Laboratory on behalf of Thomson Holidays. Experts from diverse sectors including green technology, sustainability and scenario planning were interviewed for their perspectives including: Rachel Armstrong, senior fellow, TED; Dr Graham Miller, senior lecturer in management, specialising in sustainability and tourism, University of Surrey; Vicky Murray, senior sustainability advisor, Forum For The Future; Ian Pearson, futurologist, Futurizon and BradTempleton, research fellow, Singularity University, California. Research for the report was carried out using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methodology, spanning extensive desk research, online consumer surveys and interviews. The consumer survey, conducted between 27 and 31 August 2010, polled the opinion of 1,007 respondents from a nationally representative UK sample aged 18+.
2 Waterpebble: Thomson will be trialing the Waterpebble in its Sensatori Tenerife resort.
3 Thomson Holidays Forever: the programme was launched earlier this year to bring all the sustainable tourism initiatives undertaken by Thomson and First Choice under one umbrella. Holidays Forever encompasses 20 sustainable commitments Thomson and First Choice have pledged to achieve including reducing carbon emissions from the TUI Travel airlines by 6% by 2014, working towards having all its suppliers Travelife-awarded by 2014 and aiming to recycle approximately 30% of the cans handed out on board its flights, equating to 13 tonnes of aluminium, in the next year. For more information on the Holidays Forever brand and the 20 commitments please visit www.holidaysforever.co.uk/thomson
4 Responsible traveller kits: The report predicts responsible travel kits will contain a selection of high-tech resource-saving gadgets including: the Waterpebble; a solar-powered toothbrush and shaver that can be recharged through their integrated solar panels; a mobile phone that can be charged using heat sources such as a radiator; a self-filtering recycled water bottle with an in-built charcoal filter to make water from streams drinkable removing the need for bottled water; a paper alarm clock with its own self-addressed label that lets its owner post it back to the manufacturer at the end of its life so it can be recycled into a new alarm clock; bendable rechargeable batteries comprising a single sheet of paper coated on both sides with carbon nanotubes that can be recharged up to 300 times; a laptop computer that can be dismantled in just two minutes without tools for easy recycling.
For more information about the report, for interviews with Thomson’s sustainability experts or to request a PDF copy of the hotel room of the future, please contact:
Tel: 0207 534 9803/07870689664
Tel: 0207 534 9801/07812082138
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