As the world gears up to mark Earth Day on 22 April, Booking.com, one of the world’s leading digital travel platforms, has released findings from its annual sustainable travel report. Research reveals almost three quarters (72%) of travelers believe that people need to act now and make sustainable travel choices to save the planet for future generations. While results were relatively consistent across ages, almost three-quarters (74%) of 46-55 year olds believe most strongly that this is needed, followed by millennials at 71%.
Consistent with overall intentions to make more sustainable travel choices, sustainable stays are growing in popularity, with almost three quarters (73%) of global travelers intending to stay at least once in an eco-friendly or green accommodation when looking at the year ahead. This is the fourth consecutive year that Booking.com research has seen this figure trend up, from 62% in 2016 to 65% in 2017, and 68% in 2018.** Additionally, 70% of global travelers say they would be more likely to book an accommodation knowing it was eco-friendly, whether they were looking for a sustainable stay or not.
However, when it comes to recognizing a sustainable place to stay, almost three quarters (72%) of global travelers say that they are not aware of the existence of eco-labels for vacation accommodations, while well over a third (37%) of affirm that an international standard for identifying eco-friendly accommodation would help encourage them to travel more sustainably, and 62% would feel better about staying in an accommodation if they knew it had an eco-label.
Despite the best intentions, it’s not all plain sailing for would-be green travelers. The report also exposes the common barriers travelers face when making sustainable travel choices (% of global respondents who agree):
I do not know how to make my travel more sustainable: 37%
Although I do see options to travel more sustainably, other options tend to appeal more: 34%
I cannot afford the extra expenditure of sustainable travel: 36%
My agenda constrains me in the sustainable choices I can make: 34%
Sustainable travel destinations appeal to me less than other destinations: 34%
I understand what I can do to travel more sustainably: 50%
Travel companies have an important role to play here in the eyes of travelers: 71% of travelers think that travel companies should offer consumers more sustainable travel choices. On the other hand, almost half (46%) of global travelers acknowledge that they find it harder to make sustainable choices on while on vacation than in everyday life. Almost a third (31%) of global travelers admit their vacation is a special time during which they do not want to think about sustainability.
Aspirations to Actions
Research results also indicated that travelers would be more encouraged to travel sustainably if there were economic incentives offered, such as tax breaks, when choosing eco-friendly options (46%). This is closely followed by online booking sites offering a sustainable or eco-friendly filter option (45%).
When it comes to in-destination experiences, over half (52%) of global travelers say they now alter behaviors to be more sustainable while traveling, such as walking, riding a bike or hiking whenever possible. Plus, 68% would like the money they spend on travel to go back into the local community. Likewise, almost three quarters (72%) of global travelers are seeking authentic experiences that are representative of the local culture, while two in five (41%) request that travel companies offer tips on how to be more sustainable while traveling and 56% of respondents say that if there was an option to offset the carbon footprint on their vacation accommodation, they would do it.
“As a global travel leader, we are continuously looking at ways we can innovate across our platform, from accommodation to experiences and transport, testing different ways to best surface information and support customers in their sustainable travel choices, as well as providing support and investment to foster innovation in the sustainable tourism space through our Booking Booster, Cares Fund and Cares Lab start-up programs. It’s important that all those in the travel ecosystem, from established companies to start-ups, destinations, accommodation, transport and attraction providers as well as travelers themselves, come together, as it’s only through collaboration that meaningful change will continue to gain momentum.” says Pepijn Rijvers, SVP & Head of Accommodation at Booking.com
Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of adults who have taken a trip in the last 12 months/plan to take a trip in the next 12 months. In total 18,077 respondents were surveyed across 18 markets (1000+ from Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, UK, USA. In Israel 883 respondents were surveyed). Respondents completed an online survey in February and March 2019.
** Although this year’s survey covers 6 additional markets, the figure is still up to 72% if we only consider the markets from last year’s survey.