Ireland is still not doing enough to protect the environment, despite the country's green efforts and reputation, the author of a new guide book says.
The 8th edition of Lonely Planet's guide to Ireland points out that the country's carbon footprint is 'more than double the global average'. It also explains how recent polls have shown that 'the Irish are slightly less concerned about the environment than are the citizens of most other European countries'.
The guide says - 'Ireland's 40 shades of green don't, it seems, include the all-important eco-green' - and emphasises the impact environmental damage could have on tourism. It adds - 'Sustainable travel has to become a core issue if Ireland is to continue attracting visitors with its mix of great scenic beauty, distinctive heritage and wonderful culture'.
However, although the guide identifies areas where more could be done, it also recognises the positive actions the country has taken to tackle the issue. The guide also acknowledges that - 'Ireland's eco credentials are only just being established' - and explains that, compared to other countries, 'Ireland does not rate among the world's biggest offenders when it comes to polluting the environment'.
Author Fionn Davenport describes Ireland as "the envy of Europe" for introducing recycling programmes to address environmental issues and to counteract the problems which the thriving economy has caused. The guide supports this - explaining that the "plastic bag tax - dubbed 'the plastax' - resulted in a 90% drop in bag waste and has proved remarkably effective, reducing the use of these noxious carriers by up to 40%". The guide goes on to say that following its success 'Northern Ireland introduced a 5p levy in July 2007'.
While Ireland could do better environmentally, Davenport boasts that it's still a great place for an eco-friendly break - "Ireland's green natural landscapes are ideal for a host of outdoor activities, such as diving, surfing and fishing."
The guide says - 'Ireland's comprehensive and efficient bus network makes it easy to avoid the use of a car and the country is well suited to cycling and walking holidays. Many hotels, guesthouses and hostels tout green credentials and organic ingredients are frequently promoted on restaurant menus'.
The book shows travellers how they can travel sustainably and highlights the many eco-experiences for visitors.
The guide introduces 'Greendex' - a reference index of attractions, tours, restaurants and accommodation that run along sustainable lines.
Davenport says - "Throughout this book, we have endeavoured to highlight any accommodation or project that puts green issues at the forefront of their planning" - to encourage travellers to choose holidays that have a positive impact on the environment, culture and economy.
There is also a new food chapter, highlighting the rediscovery of Irish traditional cuisine, with a focus on local farmers and locally-sourced produce.
The book describes Belfast as being 'once lumped with Beirut, Baghdad and Bosnia as one the four 'B's for travellers to avoid'.
However, 'Belfast has pulled off a remarkable transformation - from bombs-and-bullets pariah, to hip-hotels-and-hedonism party town'.