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
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

RE Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Teacher of Religious Education ...

Maths Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are currently...

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering