Simon Calder column

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The Independent Travel
The August bank holiday punctuates the travel calendar, marking the cusp where attention switches from holidays at home and in Europe to warmer, more exotic destinations. While you mull over where, when and how to explore the planet, you should also consider your effect on the world.

Two publications arrived with the post on Monday morning, each telling a story about tourism's impact. The latest edition of In Focus, published by the London-based pressure group Tourism Concern, reports from Cappadocia in central Turkey. The owner of a pansiyon (cheap guest house) in the town of Goreme faced jail for painting over a medieval fresco. His defence was that "tourists like clean white walls".

Meanwhile, Tailor Made Travel of Evesham has adopted a neat method of minimising the waste involved in holiday brochures. The back cover of its new brochure gives a Freepost address for people to return the glossy publication so that it can be sent out to other prospective travellers. Fewer brochures need to be produced and subsequently disposed of.

Britain's biggest tour operator, Thomson, produces Britain's biggest holiday brochure: its Summer Sun '97 weighs 36 glossy ounces. But the company says it has no plans to introduce a recycling scheme. So: full marks to Tailor Made Travel - except that the company sent me two copies of the brochure, in separate envelopes to the same address. I have returned one, postage paid.

We tourists would be better equipped to preserve the environment if there were more people like Wilfrid George around. I spent last Saturday in the company of Mr George's excellent Footpath Map of Dedham Vale, a self-published snip at pounds 1. Besides guiding you from Mistley to Dedham through the Essex-Suffolk border country, it is full of simple but effective contributions that the visitor can make.

"Fallen signposts: the walker who carries wire, string and pliers and re-erects these will earn the gratitude of those who follow." Or, involving rather less hardware, "Brambles would be less of a problem if more walkers carried a pair of secateurs". Mr George cheerfully accepts that his map is not quite cartographic perfection with the compass point: an arrow indicating "approximate north".

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