Responsible tourism is now a big consideration for holidaymakers, fuelled by programmes such as David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II.

One of the big themes identified in ABTA’s Travel Trends Report for 2018 is the growing role that responsible tourism plays in shaping holiday choices.

ABTA research shows that almost 70% of people believe that travel companies should ensure their holidays help the local people and economy.

This rise in sentiment follows wildlife documentaries such as David Attenborough’s ‘Blue Planet II’ — the most watched programme of 2017 — and campaigns including Sky News’ Ocean Rescue Scheme. Greater public awareness also extends to human rights and working conditions.

Animal welfare

Tour operators, hoteliers and destinations have made positive progress on responsible tourism, with ABTA expecting more initiatives to follow in 2018.

These are likely to include social enterprise projects which give back to local communities, carbon-neutral group tours and the banning of plastics from beaches.

The welfare of animals in tourism has also become a mainstream issue, with Thomas Cook committing to removing animal excursions such as elephant rides and swimming with dolphins from their activities list.

Virgin Holidays also announced it will no longer sell or promote any new attractions or hotels that feature captive whales and dolphins.

Destinations to watch

Elsewhere in the travel trends report, ABTA paints a positive outlook for the  tourism industry in 2018. It quotes GfK figures showing summer demand up 5% on last year, with people booking early in order to take advantage of discounts and ensure they get their choice of destination or resort at the right price.

Three-in-ten also say they plan to spend an increased amount on travel, up 6% from last year, while it also appears there’s an increased willingness to prioritise holidays over eating out and entertainment.

ABTA also named its 12 ‘destinations to watch’ in 2018. They have been chosen for their ease of accessibility for British tourists or because they are a well-known destination with hidden gems.

They are Argentina, Arizona, British Columbia, Germany, Malta, Montenegro, Nepal, New Zealand, Rwanda, St Lucia, Sweden and Turkey.

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