British tourists are growing increasingly concerned about the people and the environments they visit when travelling, a new survey suggests.

As many as 52 per cent of those going overseas would be more likely to book with an "ethical" tour company – ones with a written code guaranteeing good working conditions for locals, protection of the environment and support for local charities. The Christian relief and development agency Tearfund, which did the survey, said the figure was 45 per cent in a similar exercise two years ago.

Nearly two in three in the latest findings said they wanted to know from travel agents and tour operators how to behave more responsibly by understanding local customs and politics, preserving the environment, supporting the economy and meeting local people.

The survey was part of Tearfund's Worlds Apart report. In a foreword, Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop, said: "Tourism cannot escape the ethical consumerism debate."

Graham Gordon, Tearfund's policy officer, said: "Tourism is one of the largest industries on the planet. It can bring huge benefits to poor countries. But often those benefits simply bypass local poor people."

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