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A break from plastic

Tour operators launch initiative to cut 1 million plastic bottles from their holiday operations in 2020
A break from plastic

A group of independent UK tour operators has launched an initiative to eliminate up to one million plastic water bottles from use in their respective tours and countries of operation by the end of 2020.

The One Bottle at a Time (OBaaT) initiative commits to eliminating single-use plastic water bottles across all the companies’ holiday operations, and to also developing a guide to best practice for holiday travel worldwide.

First of its kind

The tour operators – Experience Travel, Holiday Architects, Pura Aventura, Selective Asia, Steppes Travel and Wild Frontiers – operate across six continents between them. This summer they plan to open membership to the OBaaT initiative to all tour operators and destination management companies worldwide.

The group believes it is the first time such an initiative has been launched on an international cross-industry basis. OBaaT will not be a regulatory body, but a forum for sharing best practice among industry professionals.

‘Selective Asia had worked for several years to try and eliminate single-use plastic water bottles from our holidays in Asia with varying degrees of success.

‘The logistics are challenging and we realised that we needed to work across the industry with like-minded companies and get our clients on board to really scale up, meet our ambitious targets and make a global difference to our planet’s future.

‘With this in mind, in 2019 we came together as a collective to share, learn and define best practice before promoting the initiative to the others in the industry.’

Managing director of Selective Asia and OBaaT spokesman

Refills on holiday

As well as removing one million single-use plastic water bottles from across its holiday operations, the OBaaT charter has set a target to grow its membership to 100 tour operators and travel suppliers by the end of this year.

Tourists consume on average up to four plastic bottles a day on their holidays. OBaaT members were already working on logistics with local partners in-country to introduce ways for clients to refill their reusable water bottles safely.

‘As tour operators the safety and well-being of clients comes first and that OBaaT was committed to providing clean and safe drinking water on their customers’ holidays. There is also a duty of care to the destinations themselves and we should only leave behind footprints and memories from holidays.’

Managing director of Selective Asia and OBaaT spokesman

These include ground agents and destination management companies not giving out single-use bottles in vehicles and instead providing clean drinking water in water containers; hotels, lodges and camps not giving out single-use bottles in rooms and airlines not giving out single-use plastic cups and water bottles.

Tour operators or interested in joining OBaat this summer when general membership is opened should sign up on the website and await further announcements.

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