Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Plastic problems in Cyprus highlighted by Thomas Cook

HUNDREDS of plastic water bottles have been used to create a thought-provoking eco-sculpture that stands proudly at Thomas Cook's offices in Peterborough.

The statue is of a meditative man and is a replica of Auguste Rodin’s sculpture The Thinker, created in 1902 and now on display in Paris.

Made from plastic mineral water bottles, rather than cast in bronze, his job is to make Thomas Cook’s 2,000 staff in Bretton and its overseas suppliers think how they can reduce the mountains of plastic waste holidays can cause.

Jo Baddeley, sustainable destinations manager for Thomas Cook, called the new recruit unique and really strange.

She said: “I was absolutely delighted to see him there, because not only will people who work at Thomas Cook see him there, but visitors too.

“People don’t know what it is when they walk in, so he’s drawing quite a lot of attention and it’s going to generate quite a lot of interest and queries.

“The whole idea of building him out of the plastic bottles was to represent a project we were running in the first place, so far away in Cyprus, but then seeing him come to life and have his little legacy going in our own offices was like going full circle.”

Daniel Broadley (42), a figurative artist from Wiltshire, used 1,100 factory reject bottles for the transparent interpretation.

Called “Message in 1,100 bottles”, the seven-foot thinker represents the quantity of plastic bottles being binned every day by just one hotel used by Thomas Cook in Cyprus. The artist moulded the bottles around an internal metal skeleton, before securing everything with industrial double-sided tape and plastic ties.

Daniel said: “It was an interesting idea and a worthwhile cause, because the hotels in question don’t have any recycling facilities.

“It was something I was very interested in doing and it was a great opportunity.”

The hotel that inspired Thomas Cook’s new receptionist now serves more of its water in refillable cups not bottles – a success that the sculpture was commissioned to celebrate.

In June this year, Thomas Cook committed £8,000, and joined forces with The Travel Foundation to help Cypriot hotels think twice before dolling out plastics.

Sue Hurdle, chief executive of The Travel Foundation said: “The sculpture will now serve as a very visual reminder to all Thomas Cook staff and visitors about the small things that can be done to make holidays more sustainable.

“Not only do such initiatives reduce dependence on finite resources and lessen the impact of tourism, but they save businesses money, so it’s a win-win situation.”

DRINKING water bottles sent to landfill sites can take between 20 and a thousand years to degrade.

When they are thrown into our oceans marine mammals and seabirds feed on them, mistaking photo-degraded particles for fish and plankton.

An estimated 50,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometre floats through our seas, much of which has gathered in The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

This mass of plastic debris is thought to be twice the size of France and swirls through an area once known as the doldrums.
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Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Spanish high-speed trains help RENFE scoop travel award

Independent travellers in Spain and Portugal have benefited from improved services across the Iberian Peninsula, something celebrated by the international tourism community yesterday.

RENFE, the Spanish public rail network won a World Travel Market Global Award at London's Excel, which company president, Teofilo Serrano Beltran collected from WTM Chairman Fiona Jeffery.

Fiona said: "The linking up of the Iberian Peninsula through efficient rail links has led to innumerable benefits for both those living in the region and holidaymakers choosing to visit."

Travel problems in Spain were fixed by RENFE, whose services now connect the Portuguese ports of Lisbon, Leixoes and Sines with Spain. RENFE's new high-speed trains have also slashed journey times between cities and increased attention to accessibility has benefited travellers with disabilities. The improved trains have done their bit for the environment, with CO2 emissions recorded at seven times less than aircraft.

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Monday, 7 November 2011

"Gamification" coming to a holiday near you

Exploring the architectural glories of Renaissance Florence via the third-person animated pixels of the game Assassin's Creed II is surprisingly gratifying, I admit.

For example, sliding down the terracotta curves of Brunelleschi's vast dome atop Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral had crossed my mind in reality (and was quickly crossed out). But as an immortal game-player I've jumped from bell towers, swam across the River Arno and slid down that cathedral dome at full pelt, falling off the side of building and landed in a hay cart miles below.

Control pad travel, aboard the PlayStation plane, has certain advantages over real life travel. And the same can be said, it seems, for selling holidays.

Travel companies are latching onto the idea that 18-34-year-old holidaymakers (and the oldies too) are susceptible to the power of the video game, announced the World Travel Market Global Trends Report 2011 today.

Professional and press gathered at Excel, London, heard how "gamification - the integration of gaming dynamics into non-gaming environments - will spread from the entertainment sector to the travel industry."

Travel boffins Euromonitor concluded from recent studies that, "Gamification is the latest battleground in online travel, combining key aspects of loyalty and social networking.
"Together with traditional marketing, gaming will help travel companies to increase brand awareness, in hope of becoming the next viral sensation."

Hopefully, the gamification on offer in years to come will be a bit more exciting than the 'share your photos' attempts in 2010 by the Australian Tourism Board and Lufthansa.

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