Consumers will come to expect “labelling” to indicate the environmental and social impact of holidays, TUI Travel head of sustainable development Jane Ashton has predicted.
Other industries, such as food, are already putting information on their products about CO2 as well as about fairtrade, she said.
Speaking at the WTM Vision Conference, she said: “Other industries are addressing these issues in product labelling; so our customers are going to expect carbon and social impact and other tourism labelling.”
In TUI’s own research, only about half of 25 airlines surveyed currently report their carbon footprint. Carbon labelling would highlight efficiencies of individual airlines, she added.
She predicted a change in the next decade. “Carbon labelling on flights might well be something we see on flights in the next ten years,” she said.
Ashton admitted holidaymakers were not currently demanding that travel companies take a sustainable approach, but she said: “I think they are increasingly expecting it and they do value it.”
Research by the Concerned Consumer Index in January showed 62% of people wanted to take a more ecologically-friendly holiday.
The expectation is that travel companies will address sustainabiltity issues, she added. “People feel that when they go on holiday they do not want to deprive themselves of the enjoyment of the holiday. They expect the company to address the issues on their behalf.”
It is “highly dubious” whether holidaymakers will pay for companies to take a sustainable approach, she said. Only around one in three are currently paying a small contribution on bookings towards carbon offsetting through schemes such as the Travel Foundation.
Meanwhile, she warned that travel companies will be forced to take a more responsible view on their carbon footprint under the UK Carbon Reduction Committment legislation next year.
“We will have to become more carbon savvy and large corporates will be under a lot of pressure to reveal carbon data,” she said.