Long-haul breaks spell bad news for the climate

A A A

After the Filofax, the mobile phone, the laptop, the iPod, the taste for sushi and the 4x4, here comes the latest must-have for Britain's affluent young professional class: the weekend far away.

A growing number of people who have money coming out of their ears but not the hours in the day to spend it - who are cash-rich but time-poor, as the jargon has it - are turning to a new form of relaxation, the long-haul short break.

Talk about the world shrinking. You might just have got your head around the idea of a weekend in New York. But how about a weekend in Dubai or a couple of days in Bangkok?

Plenty of trendy souls doing just that, according to lastminute.com, the internet gratifier of spur-of-the-moment travel impulses. People are happy to take short trips to places as far afield as Beijing and Hong Kong, the company says, with sales for long-haul short breaks 35 per cent up on the same time last year, and more than 90 per cent up on 2001.

New York is lastminute's number one destination for long-haul short breaks, with Dubai and Las Vegas coming in second and third. But the company's holiday and flight director, John Bevan, says the growth areas are eastern destinations such as Hong Kong, Bangkok and Beijing.

"Hopping over the pond to the US for a few days or heading to Dubai is now seen as pretty mainstream in the UK," Mr Bevan said. "We are now seeing demand for more unusual destinations, with the likes of Hong Kong proving extremely popular."

Mr Bevan predicted Beijing will see a surge in popularity over the next year or so, in the approach to the 2008 Olympics.

"The likes of Hong Kong and Bangkok will come into their own too, as we think the demand is being led by people returning to discover the cities they've only ever bounced through on a connecting flight to Australia or other parts of Asia," he said.

From a travel point of view, perhaps the most intriguing aspect of lastminute's recent sales is the soaring attraction of Dubai, the Gulf emirate which is the fastest-growing city in the world. Dubai is an outlandish combination of hot climate and architectural excess, with dozens of mega-building projects ranging from an artificial archipelago and the world's tallest building to a shopping hyper-mall and an indoor ski resort - Walt Disney meets the sands of Arabia.

But from a green point of view, the story is quite different: the continuing breakneck growth of air travel. The normality of a quick break in a distant location indicates what a thorny political problem is being presented by the environmental consequences of air travel.

A government seeking to restrict flying's runaway growth may find itself popular with green activists, but not with the much bigger mass of voters. It will be a brave prime minister who signs off on any attempt to cut it back, through tax increases for example, with an election on the horizon.

Yet air travel's seemingly unstoppable growth is making a growing and disproportionate contribution to climate change. Exhaust emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) from jet exhausts are not only voluminous - they go straight into the stratosphere, so their effect on the climate is much quicker than emissions at ground level.

If you take that weekend in New York, you will be responsible for about 1.2 tons of emitted CO2, according to a web-based calculation service. Make it a break in Beijing and you will be responsible for emitting 1.8 tons. To offset either - to take up the CO2 you've been responsible for emitting - you will need to plant two trees.

That is, if you've got time in your hectic schedule, after you get back.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Life and Style

Between the 25-27th of July, Earls Courts’ gloomy interior was doused in shades of bubblegum and parma violets as it played host to Hyper Japan, the venue’s annual celebration of anime, art, Kawaii street fashion and everything that encompasses the term J-culture. Bursting with Japanese pop culture and infused with Asian street food Hyper Japan is an invigorating culture shock that brings cosplayers, creatives and gamers like myself from across the globe.

Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Arts and Entertainment
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint)
newsBloomsbury unveils new covers for JK Rowling's wizarding series
News
scienceScientists try to explain the moon's funny shape
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Shine Night Walk 2014 - 'On the night' volunteer roles

Unpaid Voluntary Work : Cancer Research UK: We need motivational volunteers to...

Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable & Accounts Receivable)

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable...

Senior IT Trainer - Buckinghamshire - £250 - £350 p/d

£200 - £300 per day: Ashdown Group: IT Trainer - Marlow, Buckinghamshire - £25...

Education Recruitment Consultant- Learning Support

£18000 - £30000 per annum + Generous commission scheme: AER Teachers: Thames T...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star