Opinion: Sustainability is at the heart of the Games

Opinion: Sustainability is at the heart of the Games

by Sue Hurdle, chief executive of the Travel Foundation

The very British opening ceremony of the Olympic Games was a proud moment for this country.  

But aside from the spectacle of fireworks, musical drama and the ultimate flame, London 2012 should also be proud that we are hosting the greenest ever Olympic Games.  

The organisers have worked to put sustainability at the heart of these games throughout.  

Based on the World Wildlife Fund’s concept of One Planet Living, the Olympic Park has set new standards in sustainability.  

Minimising waste at every stage, reusing and recycling materials as part of the construction process, creating new parkland and reducing the impact of the games on wildlife and their habitats have been at the forefront of development.

The start of the Olympic games marks the end of our Make Holidays Greener campaign for 2012 which, for the whole month of July, has put sustainability within the travel industry firmly in the spotlight.

Travel Weekly and its readers have given tremendous support and we’ve had involvement from more travel agents, hotels and operators, reaching more consumers than ever before.    I’d like to say thank you on behalf of everyone at the Travel Foundation for the support.

Our media partners, our fundraisers and everyone working in the travel industry today – along with their customers – have a huge role to play in supporting sustainability, no matter how simple or sophisticated the actions.

But the end of our Make Holidays Greener awareness campaign does not mean the good work should stop.  In fact, I hope it will  be the starting point for many travel businesses.

More new travel companies have contacted us within the past month to find out how they can get involved.  Each year, the campaign gains momentum with travel firms working together with us to do more – right through from resort level to the point of sale.

Next year will be the tenth anniversary of the creation of the Travel Foundation and  it is great to see how far the industry has come in that time.  

More than 15,000 travel industry professionals have had training dedicated to greener holidays; 243 businesses have supported our projects to provide better opportunities for local communities to benefit from tourism; 122 businesses have promoted excursions to our projects, which almost 42,000 customers have purchased; 695 hotels have been part of our water and energy reduction programmes, saving enough water to make 3 billion cups of tea!

But there’s still so much more to be done.   Despite the commercial challenges ahead, we must continue to keep a long term view and put sustainability at the heart of what we do.

With a global event like the Olympic Games giving such prominence to climate change, community involvement, local economies and biodiversity I believe it can’t help but inspire travel businesses to do more.


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