01 July 2008

Backpackers Down Under say they are keen to travel green

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Young Australian travellers are saying they are choosing the "greener" option if it is available, says the New Zealand Herald. Contiki Holidays, an international travel coach company, recently conducted research about the perspectives of travelling and discovered young Australian travellers are conscious about the possible effects of their holiday.

The research concluded the number one priority for people aged 18 – 34 years old living in Australia is international travel.  Domestic travel and owning property or a car were lower-ranked aspirations. 

According to the newspaper, Contiki also said 54 per cent of young travellers living in Australia or on Australia visas want to travel using carbon-neutral options, but only 9 per cent of these are actually following through with it. 

The research also highlighted trends in the tourism market; higher earning travellers were much less likely to volunteer in the places they visit, and placed less importance on carbon offsetting.  Higher income earners were also more likely to support the local economy and take a proactive approach to sustainable practices, such as requesting hand towels to not be washed daily.  Twice as many women than men also requested towels to not be washed on a daily basis. All participants in the research agreed meeting the locals and enjoying local custom was a number one priority in international travel. 

Many tour operators are changing their business structure now to incorporate sustainable practices in tourism.  New Zealand is at the forefront of this, with initiatives such as recycle bins at tourist hot-spots, tourist buses running on used fish and chip oil, and their major airline fuelling much of its fleet with sustainable biofuels. 

"Ten years ago, most young New Zealanders never gave much consideration to the carbon footprint of their travel," said Tony Laskey, General Manager of Contiki Holidays.  "Today, sustainability concerns outweigh price when making a purchasing decision.  This is why in the past 24 months Contiki New Zealand has seen growth in both outbound and inbound clients as more young people see coach touring as not only a fun, but also environmentally friendly way to see the world."

The New Zealand Contiki company are also playing their part; staff volunteer two days a month at an overnight camp for disabled youths and the company is contributing US$1 million to conservation and sustainable tourism projects.

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