The guides give simple tips on how tourists can help benefit local communities and minimise their impact on the environment.

Rather than targeting tourists to recognised environmentally sensitive destinations, the guides cover popular locations, including Spain, Cyprus, Mallorca, Malta and Tobago. A separate guide covers winter sports.

Advice includes choosing to eat in local family restaurants, turning off air-conditioning unless needed and various water-saving measures. Water shortages are causing huge environmental problems in Spain, where tourists use twice as much water every day as local people do.

"Being environmentally sensitive doesn't just apply to tip-toeing through the rainforest - everyone who goes on holiday this summer can make a difference," said Sue Hurdle, director of the Travel Foundation. "There's no question that, if you do things to benefit local people, you will get more out of your holiday, too.

"Cyprus is a big tourist destination but local villages there are missing out on tourism - people can go and have meal at a family restaurant in villages."

The Insider Guides can be downloaded from www.thetravelfoundation.org.uk.

Online sting

Anti-malarial tablets can now be ordered online from the travel service E-Med, including all the major anti-malarials, Malarone, Mefloquine, Doxycycline, Chloroquine and Paludrine.

E-Med also provides advice on which tablets are most effective in specific countries and regions. Tablets are delivered the following day. In 2003 there were a total of 1,722 cases of malaria in travellers returning to the UK, of which 1,339, the most dangerous, were caused by the parasite plasmodium falciparum.

More information at www.e-med.co.uk.

Tree walk

A walking trail has been launched at Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire to encourage visitors to lose weight.

The trail winds around the trees that are at their most attractive in summer and calculates how many calories the walker loses along the way.

Boards by individual trees also explain the medicinal properties they offer. For example, hawthorn is used to relieve high blood pressure while birch extract offers pain relief for rheumatism. More at www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt.

New to Unesco

The western Norwegian fjords, one of the world's most dramatic landscapes, has won World Heritage status by Unesco, the UN's cultural arm.

The designated site includes Geirangerfjord and Næroyfjord, two of the world's longest and deepest fjords. Other areas to receive protection include Wadi Al-Hitan, known as Whale Valley, in Egypt, which displays fossils on the desert floor of the last whales known to have legs, and Vredefort Dome, near Johannesburg, the world's oldest meteorite impact site. For more information about new and existing World Heritage sites visit www.iucn.org.

Georgia opens up

Georgia has abolished visa requirements for EU passport holders visiting the country for fewer than 90 days, in a move to increase tourism.

The move follows the recent reintroduction of flights from Tbilisi to Heathrow with Bmed, an independent franchise partner of British Airways.

Regent Holidays (01179 211711; www.regent-holidays.co.uk), a tour operator which specialises in trips to places in eastern Europe, offers three nights at a home stay in Tbilisi from £595 per person, including return flights.

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