British abroad: 'The amount of frivolous travel is a problem'

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The Independent Online

The founders of Lonely Planet have condemned "frivolous" British travellers who fly to European cities with no real sense of purpose.

Tony and Maureen Wheeler, who started the global guidebook company after a pioneering trip across Asia 35 years ago, were speaking at the annual travel industry event, The Independent Conversation.

"The sheer amount of frivolous travel is a problem," said Tony Wheeler.

"Air travel is huge now, but where it's bad is out of Britain because of all these short-haul flights," said Maureen Wheeler. She cited in particular "people flying to Tallinn, to Prague for a weekend. They're not interested in the history, the background. They want to know where's the hip hotel? There's no curiosity there. It's just, 'Let's go somewhere new because we can.' The environment can't cope with that."

The couple buy into carbon-offset schemes to cover their own travel, and are working towards making Lonely Planet a carbon-neutral company.

The Wheelers also defended their publication of books on Burma. "The Independent wouldn't not report the news of Burma; we wouldn't not report the travel news on Burma," said Tony Wheeler.

To listen to Simon Calder's conversation with Tony and Maureen Wheeler click here