Ten Dutch travel agencies pay for client’s CO2 emissions
Ten Dutch travel agencies have decided to pay for the CO2 emissions of their travelers. Travelers themselves don’t care about the environment: in 2016 only 1 out of 800 people really felt guilty and decided to compensate for the emissions of his holiday. That’s why some Dutch tour operators, among which Shoestring, Koning Aap and Sawadee, make their travel packages CO2 neutral.
“We offer exotic air trips, so we consider ourselves responsible”, says Jan de Ridder, CEO of Sawadee. “Too little travelers want to compensate freely for their CO2 emissions, so we are going to pay for it now.” Prices vary from 5 euro per person for a European destination to 10 euro per person for a holiday in New Zealand.
To calculate the exact amount, travel agencies use an online calculator, developed by sector organization ANVR and School for Tourism NHTV. This calculator takes into account the environmental footprint of several transport options, 750.000 facilities and several excursions.
The compensation money goes to a Swiss environmental organization. The South Pole Group, as the organization is called, realizes projects meant to diminish CO2 emissions, like the distribution of energy-efficient cooking equipment in Ghana or the construction of a solar park in Thailand. The costs – about 100.000 euro in the case of Sawadee – are deducted from their profits.
“This is a first step in the positive direction of decreasing the ecological footprint of tourism”, says Paul Peeters, lecturer sustainable tourism at the NHTV. “Today tourism already is responsible for more than 5% of CO2 emissions worldwide. And this percentage is rising fast: since 2000 the number of tourists worldwide traveling abroad has doubled.”
The efforts of a handful of small agencies are just a drop in the ocean but sector organization ANVR expects that bigger players like TUI and Corendon will follow. In actual practice it will not be easy though, De Ridder says. “You cannot just skip flights and you cannot make people crossing China by train. They want to see as much as possible in the three holiday weeks they have.”
But it will certainly be inevitable for travel agencies and travelers to make more environmentally friendly choices, Peeters concludes. “We will not solve the climate problems by just compensating for the CO2 emissions.”
“Besides, we all will have to consider whether we really need to travel that often and that far. Because a flight to New York or a trip to Bruges is a world of difference for our planet.”