Sustainability in the travel industry

ABTA’s mission is to build confidence at the heart of travel – confidence for customers to book; confidence for companies to trade and invest; confidence that the industry is building a sustainable future.

At ABTA we recognise that the tourism industry can be a powerful force for positive change but that any impacts on destinations and their natural environments, economies and communities need to be managed carefully. We are committed to maximising positive and minimising negative impacts by building a more sustainable travel industry, working in partnership with our Members, their customers and destinations. 

Sustainable tourism isn’t a specialist or ‘niche’ form of tourism: any type of tourism can be made more sustainable. Neither need it be complicated – put simply, sustainable tourism is about creating Better Places to live and visit. 

We work with:

Our Members

Our five-step ‘Better Places’ programme is designed to help our Members make their own business operations more sustainable. This involves understanding how to take a sustainability approach for their business; making a plan to address the environmental, economic, cultural and social impacts of their activities; involving their suppliers in the process; talking to their customers about what they’re doing and why; and measuring their progress along the way.

We also provide advice and guidance documents to our Members on specific aspects of their operations such as excursions and customer communications, as well as practical guidance and tools on particular issues and risks they are likely to need to address. These include environmental issues such as carbon reporting, plastics and animal welfare; human rights issues including child safeguarding, modern slavery and human trafficking; employment conditions, accessible tourism and responsible volunteering.


Protected natural environments and local culture, authentic and memorable experiences, local food, happy staff, feeling welcomed by the local community all enhance and enrich the customer experience.

We have developed strong relationships with destination representatives and governments over many years, and are often their first port of call on issues relating to UK outbound tourism. This means we are able to raise any issues of concern to our Members with them and help identify collaborative solutions. We use our expertise to promote and support sustainable destination management and strategic tourism planning and share examples of best practice from around the world. 


ABTA measures consumer attitudes towards sustainability as parts of its annual consumer trends survey. The 2018 survey revealed that 45% of customers consider the sustainability credentials of their holiday company to be important to the booking process. That number has more than doubled since 2011. 69% believe that travel companies should ensure that their holidays help the local people and the economy, and almost a third are prepared to pay more to go on holiday with a company based on a better environmental and social record.

Our annual Make Holidays Greener campaign run in partnership with Travelife aims to encourage holidaymakers and the industry to take action to help create better places to live in, and better places to visit.

Accessing our sustainability tools and resources

If you’re an ABTA Member, you can sign in to the Member Zone to access the Better Places programme and a wide range of practical resources and tools to help your business develop a sustainable approach and address the issues relevant to it.

If you’re not yet a Member and would like to find out more, please click here.