More Than Ever, Travelers Value Sustainability
It's no secret that travelers are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious in their daily lives and while on the road. They want their travel experiences to not only be fun and memorable, but meaningful and authentic, as well. More than ever, travelers are concerned about the lasting impact made on the destinations they visit.
To delve into this topic further, new global research from Expedia examined what can be learned from consumer attitudes, values and motivations in making conscientious choices. Encouragingly enough, research found that 90% of travelers look for sustainable options while traveling.
But what do travelers see as part of sustainable travel?
Of those surveyed, 69% said sustainable travel included lessening environmental impacts, 66% said supporting local economies, 65% said supporting local cultures and communities, and 52% said visiting lesser-known destinations.
While travelers are talking about sustainability, their personal commitment to making more conscientious choices is already being demonstrated through their actions.
Findings indicate that over the last two years, 3 in 5 travelers have opted for more environmentally friendly transportation or lodging, while 7 in 10 consumers have avoided a travel destination or transportation option due to skepticism that their commitment to sustainable practices was real.
In addition, while on the road over the last two years, 49% of travelers bought from local stores and restaurants rather than chains; 46% visited local cultural or historical sites; 42% bought from local cultures, communities or minority groups; and 37% paid more for sustainable options such as carbon offsets. When it comes to future travels, the percentage for all of these options increased across the board for travelers who intend to make more meaningful decision making.
However, it's important to note that 74% of respondents indicated that it costs too much to be more sustainable while traveling. But that doesn't mean they aren't willing. Half of respondents would pay more for transportation, activities and lodging—if the options offered were more sustainable.
If cost wasn't indicator enough of how much sustainability means to travelers today, research found nearly 70% of travelers are willing to sacrifice convenience to be a more sustainable traveler. Half of respondents said they'd make choices like walking versus driving; 49% said they'd sacrifice comfort; and 47% said they'd sacrifice time to travel to a destination along with convenience associated with lodging (distance from a destination, amenities, etc.).
Group tour operators and industry professionals can meet travelers where they are by providing more information to help them feel empowered to make informed decisions. Two in three travelers want to see more sustainability info from lodging and transportation providers. According to those surveyed, 50% would like trusted information to come from a destination itself, tourism or visitor resource groups, while 41% said they would like trusted information from independent travel agencies or providers. This type of information could include recommendations for:
- Locally-owned business and restaurants.
- Transportation options with lower environmental impact.
- Engaging with local cultures and communities.
- Eco-friendly activities and walkable/bikeable destinations.
- Packing more sustainably.
To see the research in its entirety, visit Expedia.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.