Sustainable travel important for over 80 pc travellers

Nearly 60 pc keen on proactive participation in sustainability
2022-04-22
/
/ New Delhi
Sustainable travel important for over 80 pc travellers

As many as 59 pc of travellers say they want to leave the places they visit better than when they arrived (Photo: IO photos)

While the travel industry is seen to be making all the right noises around sustainability and responsible tourism, the travellers seem to have taken the issue more openly and proactively, reveals a survey by travel website Booking.com.
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As many as 81 pc of travellers say that sustainable travel is important to them, with 50 pc saying that recent news about climate change has influenced them to make more sustainable travel choices. These are some of the encouraging findings from a survey conducted by travel website Booking.com, which reached out to over 30,000 travellers from 32 countries.

The survey highlights that the impact of their trips remains top of mind for travellers, with 71 pc saying that they want to travel more sustainably over the coming 12 months, which is a 10 pc increase over a similar survey conducted last year by Booking.com. With 81pc of travellers confirming that sustainable travel is important to them, half of all respondents, precisely 50 pc, cited that recent news about climate change has influenced them to make more sustainable travel choices. To that end, over a third or 35 pc of global travellers say that the sustainability efforts of accommodations and transport providers play a strong role in their property and transport decisions respectively.

Staying Sustainably

A surprisingly high 70 pc say they would be more likely to choose a sustainable accommodation – whether they were looking specifically for one or not. Awareness and visibility of more sustainable stays continues, with 40 pc confirming they have seen a sustainable accommodation on an online travel site over the past year and 38 pc indicating that they actively look for information on the sustainability efforts of a property before they book. Even more encouraging are the 46 pc of travellers who say they have actually stayed in a sustainable accommodation over the past year. Of those who have experienced a more sustainable stay in the past 12 months, the reasons for selecting one vary. As many as 41 pc say they chose it to help reduce their impact on the environment, 33 pc did it because they wanted to have a more locally relevant experience, while 31 pc believe sustainable properties treat the community better.

Looking ahead, 78 pc of global travellers intend to stay in a sustainable property at least once in the coming year, they say there is still more to do to make more sustainable stay options easier to find for everyone. Of those who didn’t stay in a sustainable accommodation over the past year, 31 pc said they didn’t know they existed, while 29 pc say they still do not know how to find them. Over half or 56 pc say they don’t actively look for the sustainability efforts of a property before they book, but if easily accessible, they say they will review it, which further underlines the importance of making this sustainability information transparent and understandable for a broad audience of travellers.

Alternative destinations and timing

The survey says that there is consensus amongst travellers on wanting to avoid busy and over-visited destinations, with a third saying that they chose to travel outside of peak season and over a quarter or 27 pc choosing to go to a less popular travel destination over the last 12 months to avoid overcrowding. To that end, when thinking about future trips 40 pc said they would be willing to exclusively travel outside of peak season to avoid overcrowding, and 64 pc revealed that they would avoid popular tourist destinations and attractions to ensure a more even dispersal of the impact and benefits of their visit.

As many as 31 pc say they would even be willing to choose an alternative to their preferred destination to help avoid overcrowding.

On the flip side, 42 pc struggle to find appealing destinations that are less crowded and 34 pc feel like it’s not possible to find sustainable travel options in cities or other popular tourist destinations. This indicates an opportunity for travel platforms to work with accommodation providers in these destinations to help them progress on their sustainability journeys and in turn to highlight more sustainable options, as well as to help consumers discover alternate times and places to take their trips, without sacrificing on experience.

Connection to culture and local communities

Another encouraging sign in the survey was the high involvement of the travellers in restoring the places that they visit. As many as 59 pc of travellers say they want to leave the places they visit better than when they arrived and 66 pc keen on having experiences that are representative of the local culture. In fact, more than a quarter or 27 pc say they have actively familiarised themselves with the local cultural values and traditions at their travel destination in advance of their trips and one in four would be willing to pay more for travel activities to ensure they are giving back to local communities.

Once again, it is the travel industry that has been found to be short on action as despite the appetite to give back and connect during their travels, 34 pc indicate that they don’t know how or where to find activities or tours that ensure they are actually having a positive impact and giving back to the local community.

Global travellers are increasingly mindful about how far they travel, how they get there and how they get around once they’re there. Nearly a quarter or 23 pc say they chose to travel to a destination closer to home to reduce their carbon footprint and over one in five 22 pc indicated that they researched public transport and/or options to rent a bicycle in their chosen destination. One in five also chose to travel by train instead of car for longer distances and just under a third or 30 pc say they feel ashamed to fly because of its impact on the environment. When it comes to booking transportation for their trips, 40 pc actively look for sustainability information. While 54 pc reveal that they don’t actively look for more sustainable transport options, it still has an impact on booking behavior and customer satisfaction.

For its part, Booking.com says it remained carbon-neutral in its operations in 2021 and transitioned to 100 pc renewable electricity towards the end of 2021, an important step as part of the company’s contribution to Booking Holdings’ recently released Climate Action Plan. The first of its kind for any global online travel company, its Climate Action Plan functions as a strategic framework for how Booking Holdings intends to make its operations, services and the travel industry more sustainable, it claims.

“With increased pressure on our natural resources and the undeniable impact our way of life is having on the  environment, we are 100% committed to leading the industry in charting a more mindful and responsible course for the future of travel,” says Glenn Fogel, CEO of Booking.com. “We have ambitious goals for what we want to achieve, but together with our partners across the industry and the passion of our innovative employees, we can continue to make it easier for everyone to experience the world in a more mindful and responsible way. We believe that travel is and should remain a powerful force for good, bringing enhanced cultural understanding, socio-economic opportunities for countless communities and the potential to help rejuvenate and protect our planet for the long term,” he adds.

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