ABTA’s Better Places


The definition of responsible tourism is tourism that ‘creates better places for people to live in and better places to visit’.


ABTA achieve this by working with destinations and consumers – with their members, tour operators and travel agents numbering over 1,200.


ABTA’s vision is to build confidence at the heart of travel – confidence for companies to trade and invest, confidence for customers to book, and confidence that the industry is building a sustainable future.


ABTA believe the travel industry can:

Share the benefits of tourism to ensure destinations thrive.

Manage the issues of finite resources and environmental impact.

Create economically and socially rewarding jobs.

Supporting members as they develop sustainability strategies through the Better Places Programme, ABTA help create a plan, involve suppliers, inform customers and measure success with a focus on practical solutions that work for a diverse range of members.


With a strong record of promoting collaboration among tour operators to drive sustainability in the supply chain, two of ABTA’s key successes include Travelife for Hotels, an internationally recognised sustainability certification scheme, and the ABTA Animal Welfare Guidelines.

“Certified hotels report better guest satisfaction and create 24% less waste”
– 2017 TUI Group Survey

In addition to the destination impacts, ABTA work with influencers across industry, government, academia and the third sector to build understanding of sustainability, raising awareness of specific issues, sharing best practice and harnessing the collective influence of members.


There is also a dedicated resource zone for members with sustainable tourism resources, including a self-assessment. Further guidance resources include documents on global animal welfare, managing plastics, tackling modern slavery, volunteer tourism, and online training such as child safeguarding and meeting the needs of customers with disabilities.


ABTA also supports members to provide authentic customer experiences, promoting consumer awareness of sustainable tourism through their Make Holidays Greener campaign. This annual campaign encourages holidaymakers and the travel industry to make sustainable holiday pledges, taking care of the local environment and supporting local communities in holiday destinations.


In 2019, the theme was ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’. An estimated 3,834 tonnes of waste, including food and plastic, was either reduced, reused, recycled or removed from the environment as a result of the campaign activities. This is the equivalent weight of the number of plastic bottles needed to stretch more than three quarters of the way around the Earth if laid end to end. A total of 120 ABTA member and travel businesses, from tour operators to hotels, participated in the campaign by running projects such as reducing food waste in hotels, setting up a holiday clothes swap, and providing people with water bottles that filter as they re-fill to avoid using single-use plastic bottles.

This builds on the success of Make Holidays Greener 2018, which harnessed the rising public awareness on plastics to encourage the travel industry to inspire and support its customers to use less plastic. It can be as simple as taking a reusable bag on holiday, avoiding plastic straws with drinks or directly taking a ‘Say no to plastic’ pledge. In 2018, an estimated 49 tonnes of plastic waste, equivalent to the weight of around 30 cars, was either avoided or removed from the environment.


The campaign website also provides an interactive platform for customers to take sustainable holiday pledges. There are 15 pledges which cover all aspects of a holiday. In 2019, almost 1,400 holidaymakers made sustainable tourism pledges, up from 1,290 pledges made in 2018.

“The 2018 ABTA consumer survey showed that two thirds of UK travellers think that their holidays should positively impact the destination they are visiting, and 40% said they are already factoring in sustainability”

ABTA recognises that aviation and shipping have a crucial role to play in reaching the UK Government’s commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Working with its members, their suppliers, travellers, and destination governments across the world, ABTA is building a more sustainable industry to ensure that tourism can benefit people and planet.

Related Articles

Rob Watson, Director of Rolls-Royce Electrical

Rolls-Royce is embracing sustainability with an environmental strategy for aviation, this year launching their zero-emissions single-seater plane into the record books.


Travlrr is intrinsically carbon friendly, using locally based teams and cutting out the need to fly across the world to capture content.

Rebecca Hawkins, Managing Director, RHP & World Responsible Tourism Awards Judge

One of the greatest joys of working in tourism lies in its capacity to celebrate place: rediscovering the stories, reinvigorating the networks, and seeing the local environment through new eyes.

John Speers

“Travel for Good means travelling for the right reasons towards the betterment of ourselves and the people and environment we come into contact with.”