By Humphrey Carter THE British government backed Travel Foundation was officially launched at the ABTA convention yesterday. The new charity is calling on the support of British holidaymakers to help raise one million pounds by 2006. The charity has the backing of many of the UK's leading travel companies and Derek Stevens, Chair of the Trustees, said all British holidaymakers are being urged to do is “help the people and places they love to visit by making a small donation to the charity.” Tour Operator First Choice is asking customers on their booking form if they wish to make a voluntary donation of five pence per child or ten pence per adult. Sunvil is donating 50 pence for every booking made and asking clients to match it while Thomas Cook is to start collecting left over foreign change. The Foundation is in talks with other travel firms and airlines who wish to get involved. From mainstream holiday destinations, such as the Balearics, to the developing world, Sue Hurdle, Foundation director, said “with the help of the travel industry, the Travel Foundation will help tourism make a positive contribution to destinations across the world ensuring that there are great places for us all to visit for generations to come.” In Cyprus, for example, the Foundation is working to support abandoned villages and their environment. In all destinations, the Travel Foundation will be asking the local population and business sector what their primary concerns are and how they can be resolved. In Cyprus they found that there was growing concern about the exodus of young people to the coastal resorts looking for work and the interior heartland of the island being left deserted. The Foundation, with the tour operators, launched a special excursion, offering visitors a chance to savour the real Cyprus, enjoy typical food, traditional products and the island's culture. The excursion has proved a huge success and has served to completely revive a rural village and its surrounding environment. In Gambia, the Foundation is helping to boost local trade and revenue from tourism by offering local suppliers communications and promotional training. The Foundation plans to not only help farmers supply hotels, but protect endangered wildlife, open up new areas to the benefits of sustainable tourism and advise hoteliers on better waste management and recyling. Advice is needed in parts of both the developed and developing world. The Foundation is also publishing special insider guides to destinations including Majorca, in which holidaymakers are urged not to waste water, save electricity, use recycling bins and consider spending time away from the beach visiting the island, cycling, walking and exploring the island's culture. Bill Rammell, Under Secretary of State Foreign and Commonwealth Office praised the initiative yesterday “I am proud to say the UK is playing a lead role in changing the way the world travels.”