Latin Routes is the latest travel company to pledge to reduce its use of plastics - and has called on major tour operators to follow its lead.
The tour operator has removed complimentary single-use water bottles from its private transfers and tours. Instead, clients will be given a reusable Water-to-Go filter bottle.
Latin Routes said, like many, it had been “quite naive” about the scale of sea pollution caused by single-use plastics, until it was highlighted in David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 series.
The government estimates around 5.5 billion single-use plastic water bottles are landfilled, littered or incinerated every year in the UK alone.
Since then, says the tour operator, it has been exploring ways to reduce its reliance on single-use plastics.
Martin Johnson, Latin Routes director, said he wants the travel industry to lead the way on reducing the use of plastics: “We believe we all have a huge responsibility in the travel industry to encourage a change in our traveller’s consumption of single-use plastics. Pollution of our oceans is something that affects almost all destinations, across the world.
“We are proud to stand with a handful of travel businesses that have made similar moves to include, or facilitate a discounted purchase of, reusable filter bottles as part of their holidays. But we would now like to see the major tour operators and agents follow suit.
“Any necessary cost of purchasing this product (or something similar) is minimal and the environmental effects at scale, would be huge. There is now a real opportunity for the travel industry to become a leading force in changing behaviour towards consumption of single-use plastics.”
The issue is of particular relevance to the Latin America specialist as the region tends not to have the same standard of safe drinking water the UK has, with many clients preferring bottled water.
Its Water-to-Go bottle has filter built into it though that removes 99.9% of microbiological contaminants, meaning clients can fill up from almost any water source and drink it safely.
The filter works as you drink, so there is no need to wait or boil the water. Clients can also keep their bottle to prolong its environmental benefits.
Latin Routes will stop offering single-use bottled water on its private transfers and tours from August 1, and this week at Experience Latin America, finalised its deal with Water-to-Go.
The tour operator added it would be happy to work collaboratively, or share its research, with any travel business considering a similar move.