Almost 70% of people in the UK don’t let environmental concerns influence their holiday choices, compared to 50% of our continental cousins in France and 60% in Belgium according to a study conducted by Eurostar.The study of more than 3,000 adults in the UK, France and Belgium also found that over half of Brits (55%) take up to three flight-based holidays a year, compared to just over a third (38%) of French people. The research also revealed that despite the difficult economic times, 6% of Brits take at least five flight-based holidays each year, which could generate around three tonnes of carbon emissions per person.
The findings also highlight that as foreign travel has become easier and more accessible, people are travelling further and from a younger age. In the UK, fewer than 3% of over 65s went on their first overseas holiday before they were five years old, compared to almost half (48%) of 18-24 year olds. Although Brits seem to understand how personal daily travel can damage the environment, with over a third of people in the UK (36%) ranking driving as the part of day-to-day life which generates the most carbon emissions, less than a fifth (17%) of people ranked recreation, leisure travel and holidays as the most damaging.
For those Brits who said that concerns about the environment did influence their holiday choices, only around a third (34%) would actually reduce the number of holidays they take to cut carbon emissions and a similar number (32%) would consider switching from flying short haul to taking the train. The research also discovered that more than 80% of over 65s in the UK don’t let environmental concerns affect their holiday decisions, compared to less than half (46%) of over 65s in France and just over half (55%) of over 65s in Belgium; only 23% of Belgians would consider booking an eco hotel compared to 30% of French people and 26% of Brits; French and Brits are the most concerned about travel time when booking a holiday with 28% of people in France and the UK ranking it as a top three holiday consideration compared to 24% in Belgium; only 5% of Brits ranked environmental concerns as a top three holiday consideration, compared to more than half (51%) of Brits that ranked the weather as a top three consideration.
The company's head of environment and energy, Peter Bragg, said: “We know that many of our customers are concerned about environmental issues, yet this research shows that when planning their holidays, only a few consumers are willing to make changes to reduce their carbon footprint. "There are confusing messages around the issue but as people are now travelling from a younger age, it is crucial that they understand there are sustainable travel options available. This is not to say we should never go on holiday, but there are simple actions people can take to help reduce the impact their holidays have on the environment. These include using public transport abroad rather than hiring cars or switching from flying short-haul to travelling by high-speed rail. These small changes, alongside the actions that organisations must take to make journeys more sustainable, can help us to ensure that future generations will have the same opportunities to travel that we have today.”