This summer, ABTA in partnership with Travelife, is encouraging holidaymakers and the travel industry to get involved in its annual Make Holidays Greener campaign.
Lizzie Andrews caught up with Clare Jenkinson, ABTA’s senior sustainability and destinations manager on her role, how she is getting involved in the summer campaign and her eco-adventure in Panama.
What is your role as senior sustainability manager at ABTA?
I lead on sustainable tourism work at ABTA, which means I support ABTA Members with issues such as environmental management, animal welfare, human rights, impacts on local communities and managing local economic impacts. We offer guidance to our Members, advising travel companies directly, and provide a range of tools to help them put a sustainability strategy in place. We also work with destinations to help them manage their sustainability issues.
I also manage our annual summer Make Holidays Greener campaign, which is all about raising awareness of sustainable tourism amongst holidaymakers, and encouraging them to make their holiday a little bit greener, to make choices that are better for the environment and the communities they are visiting.
So it’s the second year ABTA is running its ‘Make Holidays Greener’ campaign – what’s new?
For Make Holidays Greener 2017 we’ve increased the focus on pledges. Holidaymakers can choose one of 15 greener holiday pledges, which cover all aspects of a holiday from choosing a sustainably certified hotel such as a Travelife hotel, taking local transport, or supporting local communities by taking simple actions like eating local food, switching off electricity and taking shorter showers. There is also the option to design your own. There’s even the chance to win a Go Pro camera.
There is also a dedicated page for the travel industry to pledge. Industry pledges have included organising beach clean ups, switching to reusable water bottles, supporting turtle conservation and encouraging customers to make a pledge.
You recently returned from Panama. Did you make a pledge for Make Holidays Greener?
Yes, I tried to cover as many pledges as possible, including looking for the Travelife logo and taking part in a beach clean.
My time in Panama was a mix between business travel in Panama City and leisure time at an eco-lodge in Bocas del Toro on the coast.
In Panama City, I spent time in a Travelife member hotel Riu Plaza Panama and saw initiatives from the minute I walked in through the door. The hotel was good at promoting its sustainable commitments such as support for the local community, child protection, energy saving and recycling.
At Bocas del Toro I took part in a beach clean. I was staying in an eco-lodge, and when we told the hotel that we wanted to do a beach clean, the owners showed us a sign at the bar that said we'd get a free beer if we carried one out. It was a great incentive!
Did you see any other initiatives in Panama that impressed you?
Yes, the eco-lodge was doing a range of things that showed they cared. It was powered by solar energy, it offered tap water at the bar, there were no straws or disposable plastic cups or bottles, it had good relationships with the local community and supported local community projects.
How can people get involved in Make Holidays Greener?
Visit www.makeholidaysgreener.org.uk and make a pledge, share it on social media using #MHG2017 and tell your friends. You could win a Go Pro camera.
Would you go back to Panama?
Yes, there are some great dive sites which unfortunately I did not get to visit so I would love to go back.