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THE ITB travel trade fair opened in Berlin yesterday with a number of key German politicians calling on the population to think green and holiday at home or in their neighbouring countries.

There is a very “environmentally friendly” theme to the world's biggest tourism fair this year but the travel industry would rather help their clients decide where they holiday, as opposed to the politicians.

The Social Democrats have even called for Germans to avoid using flights as far as possible as a national debate rages about how Germany can change its lifestyle to cut greenhouse emissions and help protect the environment.

The head of Greenpeace, Germany, Brigitte Behrens, has even gone so far to call for cheap flights to be “banned”.
And while European Union leaders holding a summit on energy and climate change today and tomorrow are unlikely to start advocating such drastic measures, travel industry chiefs have been forced to admit that travellers are becoming increasingly “pollution” aware.

Martin Buck, the director of the ITB fair said last week “in many circles it will no longer be chic in a couple of years to pollute the environment with tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) while on holiday.” As a result, he has predicted that companies which continue to offer the traditional package holiday may run into serious problems.
However, according to Europe's largest tour operator TUI, which owns Thomson, holiday sales in Germany for the current winter season and coming summer have risen from last year, apart from Majorca.

Summer season bookings are 5.5 percent higher than at this time last year with bookings for Turkey up by 50 percent, Portugal and Spain by 40 percent. However, holiday bookings to Majorca, TUI's most popular destination have fallen by five percent.

The Balearics has tried to keep up with the green trend, the voluntary green card was introduced by the current government to raise extra funds for the protection and preservation of heritage and the environment.

But a tourist tax launched by its predecessor, the left-wing coalition, only served to turn tens of thousands of tourists away from the Balearics including Germans.

It was not that Germans objected to paying, it was that the tax gave them the impression that the Balearics had a serious environmental problem and stayed away.