Positive Travel teams up with Headwater to support sustainable tourism

Travel operator Headwater, which is supporting Positive Travel, uses a scoring system to help people find the most sustainable walking and cycling holidays – giving sustainable travel a more measurable meaning

Positive Travel is pleased to announce a new partnership with Headwater, one of the UK’s leading walking and cycling holiday tour operators.

We’ve been impressed by Headwater’s new sustainability programme. While many companies use the excuse of bureaucracy to delay genuine initiatives, Headwater, with its hundreds of ground operators, guides, hoteliers and agents across the UK and Europe, has risen to the challenge.

The company’s new system involves scoring the sustainability of each of their holidays in their 2014 portfolio. The overall rating is based on a set of eight criteria and includes not only traditional ecological practices such as water-saving and recycling, but also how local, organic and free-range food is involved, and the extent to which the community is employed by, and involved in, the tourism experience.

By including such broad criteria, Headwater mirrors the values of Positive Travel. Done in the right way tourism such as this can be a force for good, empowering local people and helping to preserve and protect the cultures and communities we visit. When we travel positively we discover the essence of a place, we experience it slowly and feel it deeply.

Headwater managing director Tina James said: “We are always looking for ways both ourselves and our customers might inject money into the local communities – from meals in family-run restaurants to visiting local heritage attractions – and we will always go that extra mile to protect local wildlife, while leaving a minimal carbon footprint.”

Headwater’s goal is to reach a score of 80% or higher across all its products – and it’s nearly there already. An impressive 95% of its cycling holidays scored above that mark, and 81% of walking trips reached 80% or higher, too.

“Going forward, it is vital that we maintain these high standards,” James said. “But also that we continue to work with staff, suppliers and customers in order that all our holidays achieve, or exceed, our global 80% sustainability target.”

Top of the charts is walking in Spain’s Camino de Santiago and cycling in the UK’s Wye Valley, both hitting 99%. So if you’re looking for a summer holiday that will get you active in the outdoors in a sustainable and meaningful way, look no further than these two positive travel trips:

Spain: Walking the Way of St James
The Way of St James – the Spanish Camino de Santiago – is one of the most ancient walking routes in the world. For more than a thousand years pilgrims have made the arduous 800km journey across northern Spain, winding from the Pyrenees across the wheatfields of old Castile to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia – the last resting place of the apostle Saint James. Spend 12 days walking part of the route, staying in traditional family-run B&Bs and guesthouses along the way, and enjoying the camaraderie of fellow pilgrims trekking one of the world’s most ancient and well-trodden trails.

UK: Cycling the Wye Valley
The Wye Valley, in southern Wales near the English border, is a protected Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and one of the best places in Britain for a bike ride. Freewheel into the water meadows of the Welsh Marches and then climb hard to Gospel Pass in the Black Mountains for one of the best views in the area. Stay in old coaching inns, soaking up the history of the region, eating farm-to-table food and enjoying a well-earned pint – or two – of locally brewed bitter.