Dickon Ross, editor-in-chief

Editor's Letter

Eco getaways are all the rage for the conscientious traveller, but is it just a back-to-basics fetish?

Holidays have always been subject to fad and fashion. From the grand tours of classical Europe in the 18th century and the beach resorts of the Victorian age to the Viva Espa'a package holidays of the 1970s or the independent 'travellers' of recent decades, where you choose to go on holiday can say as much about your lifestyle as your choice of clothes, car or kitchen.

Now we have the 'staycation', the latest vacation option for cash-strapped travellers, who smugly justify their choice of a homeland holiday by playing the environmental card: 'We usually fly to a lovely villa in Tuscany, but with Jocasta finding it harder to get the commissions these days we thought this year we'd try a rather lovely organic farm in Dorset. It's so much better for the environment...'

Now the wider tourism industry is jumping on the green bandwagon, with holiday websites listing the many and varied reasons you can go with them guilt-free. What's more, they sprinkle their sites with various 'approved by' stamps as if to settle the issue.

But do these claims really mean anything at all? Most emphasise an escape from the high-tech modern world with a low-tech, low energy and low comfort, 'back to basics' sort of greenness. That won't wash with a mass market used to its home comforts. Can clever engineering and new technology achieve more in the long run? Dea Burkett investigates the green credentials of package holidays, and calls for an international standard to help holidaymakers separate the horrible hype from the real help.

Hotels are starting to compete for this new wave of environmentally-worried holidaymakers with renewable energy, recycling schemes and other breakthroughs. We take a close look at how developers on Marlon Brando's island paradise plan to build the world's first six-star self-sufficient hotel. Check out other hotel innovations in an extra feature with this issue online at http://eandt.theiet.org/magazine/2011/07/index.cfm

How will the hotel of the future look? Rather than some gleaming space hotel, they won't be very different from what we have today, says Mark Harris on p38; the real differences will be invisible to the guests.

No matter how green the hotel, if it's abroad you've probably got to fly there. Here too engineering could come to the rescue. Aero engine manufacturers have been plugging less environment-taxing technologies for years but our man in Paris says biofuels really took off at this year's Air Show. Mark Williamson reports on the hype, the stunts and how long it will take for biofuels to match jet fuel in his show report on p12. Our photo essay on p46 takes you on a flight of the future according to Airbus.

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