Green issues are increasingly important for all of us. With growing public concern about climate change, we need to improve the sustainability of the tourism and hospitality industries. We must position the UK as a premier sustainable destination, promote good practice and encourage visitors to enjoy a visit or a stay offered by sustainable businesses.
I congratulate all of you who are already running sustainable businesses - and urge others to look at the many great green schemes around the country. The Institute of Hospitality runs an excellent "Hospitable Climates" energy-saving scheme geared towards tourist accommodation. VisitBritain runs a "Green Start" accreditation and marketing scheme for tourism businesses and the David Bellamy Award Scheme for sustainable practices in the domestic home parks industry has already given green awards to more than 500 businesses.
Crucially, focusing on sustainability will benefit not only the environment but the bottom line for tourism businesses. As far back as 2003, 84% of domestic tourists said they would choose a "green" attraction or accommodation over one that was not - and 68% said they would pay more do to so. The challenge is to make sustainable practices part of mainstream business. We are trying to do our bit - for instance, by working with VisitBritain and the industry to integrate sustainability issues into the hotel star rating schemes. It's always difficult to consider new issues at difficult times but being green is not only good for the planet it's what customers want and so it's good for business.
Margaret Hodge, Tourism Minister