Holiday boost for Brits – tips on how to use that extra time off

October 26, 2007

The website www.ecofriendlytourist.com reports that millions of Britons have just been given extra time off work and suggests some great short break ideas       

Good news!   From 1st October millions of Britons are able to take extra time off.    Thanks to a change in the rules for people who work a five day week the holiday entitlement has increased from 20 to 24 days a year.   What’s more from April 2009 it will go up again to 28 days.  Part time workers aren’t losing out because their allowance has gone up in proportion.  

 It is believed the statutory changes affect an estimated six million employees who until now have had bank holidays deducted from their annual leave. Yet it seems we’re a nation of workaholics.   A new survey this month by holiday firm Original Travel revealed that even before the new rules came into force four out of ten workers in the UK failed to take their annual holiday allowance.   

So, what to do with that extra free time?   Why not recharge the batteries with a short break.   Here are some tips for eco-friendly short breaks in the UK to help make sure all that holiday leave – including those extra days – doesn’t go to waste.    

Natural Retreats is a recently opened hideaway at Aislabeck in the Yorkshire Dales which claims to be the UK’s first luxury sustainable holiday location.   There are ten self catering lodges set in 50 acres of countryside.   Their eco-friendly features include sedum roofs, insulation made from recycled paper, spring water and a natural reed bed system for sewage disposal.    Each accommodates up to 6 people and is equipped with all mod cons.   

The Town House Company owns four boutique hotels in the heart of Edinburgh.   Newly listed this month in the ecofriendlytourist.com accommodation guide they are The Howard, Channings, The Bonham and The Edinburgh Residence.   The hotels are traditional townhouse buildings with many of the period characteristics of the city’s New Town area.  They have all been given a seal of approval by the Green Tourism Business Scheme.  

The Savoy is one of London’s quintessential landmark hotels and offers luxury weekend packages.   It has introduced several measures to cut down on energy usage, reduce waste and recycle.   It is scheduled to close in December for a 100 million pound overhaul lasting over a year.   So time is running out to experience its distinctive style – or else you’re in for a long wait.   For those on a tighter budget

Deepdale backpackers’ hostel and campsite at Burnham Deepdale on the north Norfolk coast is running a winter programme with a range of courses, guided walks, quizzes, activity breaks, festive celebrations and its annual Conservation Weekend next March. 

Tyf Eco Hotel is in west Wales.   It was converted from an 18th century windmill and is close to the beach, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path and the centre of St. David’s.   It runs adventure activities including rock climbing, surfing, kayaking and coasteering (getting around the coastline in a range of exciting ways).   Check its website for dates and details.   

ENDS NOTES FOR EDITORS For information about the new holiday entitlement rules visit the government DTI’s website.http://www.dti.gov.uk/employment/holidays/faq/index.html#one http://www.dti.gov.uk/employment/holidays/faq/index.html#one 

There are links for the accommodation websites and their listings on ecofriendlytourist.com

New TV series on how to holiday greener

September 5, 2007

The website www.ecofriendlytourist.com previews a new TV series on how to holiday greener 

Just as one TV series with a light green slant comes to an end another one – with a darker green hue – is due to start.   ITV’s “Britain’s Favourite View” which launched last month – and was featured then by ecofriendlytourist.com – reaches its live final on Sunday September 9th.   Hosted by Sir Trevor MacDonald, the winning view from each of the previous shows will go head to head in a public vote.    

It’s all part of a trend this year towards eco-friendly holidays in the UK, notably championed by some of our political leaders.    

On the very same night the Travel Channel is launching its new six part series “How to Holiday Greener”.       Presented by former zoologist Miranda Krestovnikoff  it focuses on some of the UK’s most stunning destinations.    

She’ll be exploring the different types of holidays on offer, looking at the ways in which you can become a much greener traveller and offering top green travel tips along the way. She’ll be tackling the environmental issues, revealing the real facts behind CO2 emissions and the steps being taken to reduce/offset carbon output. There will also be interviews with environmental experts. 

In the first episode: Miranda goes to Devon where she samples the services of two Gold Awardee Winners of the Green Tourism Business Scheme and finds out how you can really tell if something is as green as it claims to be.   In the second half of the programme Miranda crosses the border to Cornwall and discovers how man is threatening the county’s most precious asset.  

The Travel Channel describes its series as “ground breaking”.   It promises “simple ways to holiday greener” and assures viewers “it doesn’t have to be earnest hard work”.     

“How to Holiday Greener” starts on Sunday 9th September @ 21.00 CEST & BST

Episode 1 – Devon & Cornwall Sunday, 09/09/2007 @ 2100
Episode 2 – London Sunday, 16/09/2007 @ 2100
Episode 3 – The New Forest Sunday, 23/09/2007 @ 2100
Episode 4 – Wales Sunday, 30/09/2007 @ 2100 
 

The final episodes – Scotland and Norfolk – air in October. 

ENDS 

NOTES FOR EDITORS 

For details of the series “How to Holiday Greener” visit the Travel Channel’s website: www.travelchannel.co.uk/

For details of the series “Britain’s Favourite Views” visit ITV’s website: http://www.itv.com/Entertainment/reality/BritainFavouriteView/default.html

Visit Britain’s website linked with the series is www.britainsviews.com

Further information about ecofriendlytourist.com and its guide to eco-friendly places to stay in the UK are available at www.ecofriendlytourist.com  

Or contact: webmaster@ecofriendlytourist.com 

ecofriendlytourist.com launches new guide to places to stay in the UK

August 2, 2007

What do a hip boutique hotel in west London, a luxurious Scottish train and a Welsh B&B – whose owner lives in a caravan called Tracey Puddingstone parked in the back garden – have in common? 

They all feature in a new independent guide to eco-friendly places to stay in the UK which has just been launched by the website www.ecofriendlytourist.com.    It provides details of thousands of rooms in hotels, hostels, guest houses, self-catering and bed and breakfast accommodation – plus some other unusual places – throughout the UK and across all price ranges.  

The new guide is the brainchild of former TV producer Eric Rowan and will expand month by month aiming to become the best of its kind on the web.   He believes it meets a growing need and claims it boasts a unique set of features: better information; entries listed free of charge to boost trust; and the chance to find a good deal. 

“However green you are,” says Eric Rowan, “when you are choosing where to stay you don’t only want to know how eco-friendly it is.  People also look for personality, style and charm.” 

So the guide divides each comprehensive listing into two parts, details of its eco-friendly credentials plus a descriptive overview of what the place is like.    It is easy to use and every listing is no more than two clicks away from the Home page. 

“It is vital for consumers to be able to trust the guide” says Rowan, “so all the listings are free, unlike some other sites.   No-one pays to be included, even though a few have asked.   The listings are based on our own journalistic research plus recommendations by other writers, hoteliers and guests.   We have personally visited some places to discuss their environmental policies and practices and to tour the premises but we don’t describe these visits as inspections.” 

The guide also offers visitors the chance to compare prices.   There are direct links to each accommodation provider’s own website so users can book directly or, where possible, through links to alternative web based booking services.   “Going green should not mean missing out on the best deal,” says Rowan.

Some of the links are to sites that ecofriendlytourist.com is affiliated with.   This means if visitors click through or make a purchase from them it might receive a fee or commission.    Affiliate links are clearly identified.   “Any link or other information is only included if we believe it is useful and reliable” says Eric Rowan, “not whether we are paid.”

ecofriendlytourist.com was set up to help beat climate change.   It also includes ideas and information about places to go and how to get there along with monthly news stories and features.  This month the site reviews a book on how to live a low carbon life and previews the ITV series “Britain’s Favourite View” in which stars champion their favourite vistas – and suggests that rather than just watching the programmes viewers go and see these spectacular places for themselves.    “Unlike many green sites” says Eric Rowan, “we don’t nag and we don’t preach.   We want our visitors to enjoy guilt free holidays and be inspired.”  

ENDS 

NOTES FOR EDITORS

www.ecofriendlytourist.com was set up in December 2006 offering a user-friendly guide for green travelers.   It is based in London and its content is based on journalistic research. 

Details of the properties mentioned (K West, the hip boutique hotel in west London; the Royal Scotsman, the luxurious Scottish train; and Awen, the Welsh B&B) are each two clicks from the site’s Home page. 

For further information please contact: webmaster@ecofriendlytourist.com  

Green holidays reach the world party capital

April 1, 2007

The website www.ecofriendlytourist.com tracks down low-impact tours to a Mediterranean hotspot      

Think Ibiza.   Think white sandy beaches and brilliant sunshine.   Then think debauchery and dusk to dawn clubbing.    

By contrast, just fifteen minutes away from the hordes – and from what is claimed as the world’s biggest night club with a ten thousand capacity – is an ecological oasis designed to show that an alternative life-style is within the reach of everyone.   Called Casita Verde (literally “little green house”) and set in a beautiful valley near the village of San Jose it is a highlight of the Green Ibiza Tours which are due to kick off later this spring.    

The tours are organised by a local outfit called Light Vision and feature a healthy mix of nature, well-being activities such as yoga and Pilates, local culture, music events and ecology, all wrapped in a 5 day package.   Plus, according to its co-founder Mike MacLeod, “a great amount of fun, laughter and essential free time”. 

Every tour is for up to twenty five people with accommodation in wooden bungalows or under canvas.   The itinerary includes visits to the island’s beauty spots, a session cleaning a rubbish-affected beach, ecological and environmental education and, after each incredible puesto de sol (“sunset”), there is evening entertainment with specials such as beach Drum Circles, a slice of local culture Ibizenco style and club nights too.    

Casita Verde was founded in 1993, is run by another local organisation called Greenheart and describes itself as a model ecological centre.   It puts ideas about sustainable living into action.   Current projects include a rainwater collection system, alternative energy, making natural products from locally available materials, like musical instruments, jewellery, art, crafts, health food and skin care preparations using home-grown aloe vera and other natural products.  

According to Mike MacLeod, “Our holidaying groups have always gelled and formed new friendships – and even some romance.”   He says he is currently waiting for a wedding invitation from one couple.  

More seriously, he believes that inspiring people to return from Ibiza determined to make green changes in their lives means that the tours are a making a difference. To round off each trip there are eco-friendly takeaways in the form of guidelines on conservation whilst on holiday, together with an ecopack to keep the green goings-on continuing once back at home. 

“We note contentedness in folk at the end of a tour, where before there had been stress,” says MacLeod. “Above all, Ibiza desperately needs a new model of more-caring, clued-up tourism, and our tours are a green light on the way forward.” 

ENDS

NOTES FOR EDITORS

The holiday dates for the 2007 Green Ibiza Tour are: Friday 25th – Tuesday 29th May

Friday 13th – Tuesday 17th July

Friday 7th – Tuesday 11th September   

For more information visit Light Visions at:http://www.webroot-es.com/lv/index_eng.htm     

www.ecofriendlytourist.com is a user-friendly guide for green travellers. It was launched in December 2006, is based in London and its content is based on journalistic research.For further information please contact: webmaster@ecofriendlytourist.com

Volunteers please!

March 22, 2007

The website www.ecofriendlytourist.com discovers how for one student what began as a holiday in France became a lifetime journey 

For Claire Goddard it all started with wondering what to do during her summer vacation.   As a languages student it seemed natural to spend time in France.   Volunteering was worth a try, so she headed off to a project on the west coast.    For around two weeks she was with a small group of young people drawn from all over the world.  

“It was an amazing experience,” she says, “and wet my appetite for much more!” 

The next summer, in 2003, she headed off to Croatia and then on to the Czech Republic.   “The children I was working with in Croatia were fantastic and it was a great opportunity to get to know an area not at all touched by tourism and where the wounds of the recent war were still healing.” 

One year on and the volunteering bug had definitely set in.  Claire was back in France and this time she decided to take part in three projects in the south where the highlight was the annual transhumance high up in the Alps.   It meant getting up at 4.30am to walk up a mountain escorting over a thousand sheep to their summer pastures. 

Claire arranged it all through Concordia, a small charity based in Brighton on the south coast.   It offers international youth exchange schemes in over sixty countries worldwide and close to home in England.   Concordia’s volunteer manager Fiona Taylor has herself been a committed volunteer for the past twelve years.    She says its real value is “building stronger communities, people taking pride in what they do, pulling together for a common cause, having fun and meeting like minded people – and many, many more things too.”    She says it is vital to be positive and open-minded and have a flexible approach.

In 2005 Claire Goddard trained with Concordia to lead a project at an international music and dance festival in nearby Hastings. “It certainly wasn’t easy,” she says, “but [it was] very rewarding and looks great on my CV!”   

Yet this still wasn’t enough so straight after that she flew to Iceland and coordinated another project with the striking name “Pompeii of the North”.   She was staying in a stunning location on a small volcanic island off the south coast which had been transformed by a five-month-long volcanic eruption in 1973.  This created a new mountain and the lava flows formed a new part of the island.   ”We were digging up houses which had been buried by the volcanic ash.”    As leader she says “it was strange this time to be the ‘expert’.”
 

Despite all its advantages volunteering has come in for criticism, with some questioning what volunteers with no qualifications can really achieve in a couple of weeks.  The answer, according to Concordia’s Fiona Taylor?   “Volunteering is a great way to learn new skills and gain experiences which can lead on to qualifications and volunteering should be open to everyone who wants to have a go.”

Another programme that Concordia runs is the European Voluntary Service.   This offers young people aged 18-30 the chance to volunteer in Europe for periods of 6 to 12 months.   The type of placement varies enormously and might include conservation, renovation, agriculture, work with adults or children, arts and cultural projects.    A big incentive is that placements are fully funded. 

By 2006 Claire Goddard was coming to the end of her MA course at university and decided to step up her commitment, do something longer-term and also develop a career in European music policy.      “I was getting quite dispirited as it’s so difficult to break into this and the only jobs that I could find were all in the UK and required at least a year’s work experience.  I also wanted to move back to Germany where I’d spent a year of my degree but couldn’t see this happening any time soon.  So, when I found a placement at a European music organisation in Munich on the EVS database I couldn’t believe my luck!  The EVS scheme is great as accommodation, insurance, flights and living expenses are all covered and there is lots of support available before, during and after the project.”  Now aged 25 Claire says she has gained enormously from her volunteer experiences.  “I have explored beautiful and fascinating places, learnt about many different cultures and made friends all over the world.   Thank you very much Concordia and I’m sure you haven’t seen the last of me!”  ENDS

NOTES FOR EDITORS 

Details of Concordia’s volunteer programmes can be found at this address: www.concordia-iye.org.uk 

www.ecofriendlytourist.com  is a user-friendly guide for green travellers. It was launched in December 2006, is based in London and its content is based on journalistic research. For further information please contact: webmaster@ecofriendlytourist.com

Screaming green travel firms revealed

February 1, 2007

The website www.ecofriendlytourist.com has pinpointed a new campaign promoting the UK travel industry’s commitment to the environment.   Called “Scream if you’re green” it has been launched by the publication Travel Trade Gazette and highlights initiatives by travel firms to reduce their carbon footprint.

The magazine’s website features a database – with over 160 entries to date – making it possible to compare their eco-friendly claims.This is a great idea but it deserves a much wider public than travel industry professionals because it could become very useful to the green consumer.

Each firm has made five pledges ranging from corporate to “housekeeping” and individual activities.       Among them is Silverjet, the business class trans-Atlantic airline, whose boss Lawrence Hunt promises to make it carbon neutral, swap his car for a mini, recycle, plus – at quite a tangent – to give up smoking.  

Tui – better known as Thomson, which dominates the UK package holiday market and operates the country’s third largest airline – says it will work with Boeing to improve the efficiency of its air fleet, provide its staff with sustainable tourism training and encourage hotels to be more environmentally friendly. 

Among the smaller companies Upland Escapes encourages train travel in Europe, offsets carbon emissions by hire cars and provides its air passengers with the option to offset their emissions.

So far most of the listings are from the smaller outfits and high street travel shops.   Moreover, many of the promises are relatively modest and some appear rather vague.   Nevertheless this idea already provides easily accessible information from several travel firms all in one place.   The real tests will be whether these pledges prove to be of real environmental value and whether the firms live up to their promises.    

Carbon offsetting code “clear as mud”

January 25, 2007

The UK government’s proposed carbon offsetting code has been slammed by a new eco-travel website.   www.ecofriendlytourist.com warned that, far from helping consumers, it is likely to leave them even more confused instead.    

Environment Secretary David Miliband launched a public consultation on the new voluntary code, a “gold standard” for carbon offsetting, on 18th January aiming to introduce it next autumn.    

Offsetting allows people to help repair the damage caused by their carbon emissions by funding projects that reduce CO2.   There are around sixty providers in the UK and it is estimated over a million people have used them.   Yet this fast growing market is unregulated and the new code is intended to clean it up and make offsetting clearer for consumers.   

Transparent pricing is among the key elements it highlights.   Ecofriendlytourist.com surveyed the first four organisations that the government says already meet its new standard to find out how easy their services are to use.   It asked how much each would charge to offset a return flight for one passenger from London to New York, with drastically different results.   They failed to agree on the size of the carbon emissions or on the cost to offset them. At one extreme was Pure – the Clean Planet Trust which quoted £21 on its website’s calculator to offset 1.5 tonnes of CO2 for the trip, while Carbon Offsets Ltd quoted £8.22 for 1.17 tonnes.   To add to the confusion a third provider, Equiclimate, said the carbon emissions would be 1.395 tons and suggested offsetting twenty per cent of these in line with Department of Transport recommendations at a cost of £1.74.   A calculator was not to be found on the website of the fourth organisation, Global Cool, but this offers “tonnes of cool” instead at a cost of £20 each. 

“Passengers want plain answers to straight questions,” says ecofriendlytourist.com.   “How much CO2 am I responsible for?   What is a fair price to offset it?   Which provider should I choose?   And where will the money go?    

“While it’s well known that carbon offsetting calculations are highly technical and based on differing assumptions, these results are bound to baffle consumers.  If they are typical the new code will be clear as mud.”     

In another broadside the ecotourism website pointed out that of 135 organisations consulted on the draft code only one represented consumers, giving rise to yet another question: “Who is this code for?”    

The survey was conducted on 25th January 2007.

http://www.ecofriendlytourist.com was set up in December 2006 offering a user-friendly guide for green travelers.   It is based in London and its content is based on journalistic research.

For further information please contact: webmaster@ecofriendlytourist.com

 


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