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Climate change and over-consumption of water will turn some of our most popular holiday destinations to deserts, unless we start acting more sustainably – both at home and on our annual breaks.

That’s the stark message from a major new report which warns that sustainable holidays must represent the future of mass tourism.

Carried out for Thomson Holidays by The Future Laboratory, the Sustainable Holiday Futures report(1) reveals that change is needed to prevent places such as Cyprus and Spain – which have already resorted to shipping in water in giant tankers – from being turned into dry and barren wastelands. However, UK holidaymakers are not yet alert to the scale of the potential crisis. According to the report, only one in 10 adults currently monitor their water use on holiday, and just 29% say they are planning to do so over the next five years. The scale of the potential problem is so great that it has become a major focus for international policy makers and lawmakers who are looking to create water use legislation to avert what they are terming an impending global water crisis. “Based on projections from the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, desertification and water scarcity will be a big problem as places become warmer and dryer,” says Dr Graham Miller, a specialist in sustainable travel at the University of Surrey, who contributed to the report.

The Sustainable Holiday Futures report’s experts predict that within the next few years, tiny diagnostic sensors will be widely used to monitor how sustainably people are behaving on holiday, creating data that can be used as an incentive to act more sustainably or ‘nudge’ them into better practice. Thomson Holidays is leading the way by becoming the first travel company in the world to introduce the innovative Waterpebble device into its hotel rooms from January 2011(2). Incredibly easy to use, the small and unobtrusive device sits in the plughole of a shower and glows red when the user is wasting water, by timing how long the water has been running and the strength of flow. This move follows publication of Thomson’s 20 sustainability commitments which were announced as part of its Holidays Forever campaign(3) earlier this year. These include working closely with the Travel Foundation to help hotels to reduce water, energy or waste by an average of 10% in the first year, having all TUI hotels Travelife-awarded4 within five years, as well as increasing engagement with customers in sustainable tourism, for example giving them tips on how they can save water on holiday.

Commenting on the report, Jane Ashton, Head of Sustainable Development at Thomson Holidays, said: “While much of the information around sustainable travel focuses on carbon emissions and the impact of air travel, another challenge is less well reported – that of water scarcity.

“The report shows that people are only slowly starting to adopt water saving behaviour on holiday and as the UK’s leading travel company we have an important role to play in engaging with our customers to give them the information and tools they need to act sustainably on holiday and at home. That’s why we have decided to introduce the Waterpebble(2) into our hotel rooms next year”.

The report also predicts that more and more hotels and resorts will introduce advanced water conservation practices, such as recycling the water used in guest bathrooms, using filtered sea water to fill swimming pools and using harvested rainwater for growing vegetables for use in their restaurants. Facing up to what the report terms ‘water shame’, the water challenge may mean that holidaymakers will be expected to 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.


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

4 Travelife sustainability system audits hotels on social and environmental criteria, including water management in rooms, recycling of grey water, irrigation systems for the grounds and water management for swimming pools

For more information about the report/images please contact:

Lucinda Weston
Bondy Consulting Tel: 0207 534 9803/07870689664

Jessica Bondy
Bondy Consulting Tel: 0207 534 9801/07812082138

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of TUI UK in the following categories: Environment & Nature, Travel, for more information visit