Stats: 87% of Travelers Want to Travel Sustainably

A large majority of global travelers – 87 percent – say that they want to travel sustainably, according to the new Sustainable Travel Report released by in honor of Earth Day on April 22. Nearly four in 10 (39%) confirm that they often or always manage to do so; however, 48 percent indicate they never, rarely or only sometimes manage to travel sustainably, suggesting that while promising strides are being made for a greener future, there is still plenty of room to turn intentions into action, said.

“Sustainable travel” is a subjective term that has different connotations for different people, said. However, for almost half of travelers (46%), “sustainable travel” means staying in eco-friendly or green accommodations, topping the list of what people think of when hearing the term. The top reasons travelers give for choosing these eco-friendly places to rest their heads are to help reduce environmental impact (40%), to have a locally relevant experience (34%) and wanting to feel good about an accommodation choice (33%).

Looking ahead, more than two-thirds (68%) of travelers intend to stay in an eco-accommodation in 2018, up from 65 percent in 2017 and 62 percent in 2016. Additionally, the percentage of travelers who have not considered eco-friendly stays because they were unaware of their existence continues to decline, resting at 31 percent this year, compared to 39 percent and 38 percent in 2017 and 2016, respectively.

When it comes to what inspires people to travel more sustainably, it seems that travel itself is the biggest motivator. Six in ten (60%) travelers indicated that they found the impressive natural sights visited on past travels as their inspiration to travel more sustainably, while more than half (54%) said seeing the visible impact that tourism can have on destinations serves as their inspiration.

The factors that inspire sustainable travel % of global travelers who found this inspiring

Being impressed by natural sights during their own travels (e.g. coral reefs, rain forest)

Noticing a visible impact of tourism at the destinations they have visited 54%
Seeing the positive effect that sustainable tourism can have on the local people 47%
Seeing the unsustainable effects of tourism in their home country 42%
Feeling guilty about the impact their vacation has had on the environment 32%

While perceived extra cost remains the top barrier for travelers wanting to travel more sustainably, two thirds (67%) of travelers would be willing to spend at least 5 percent more on their travel to ensure it was as low impact on the environment as possible. Indian travelers claim to be the most willing, with nearly a third (32%) declaring that they would pay 15% or more, followed by Brazilians (21%) and Chinese (18%).

The research also indicates that a lack of information and a lack of credible certification poses a significant obstacle to sustainable travel (32%), particularly in India, China and Japan, where travelers cited this as even more of a barrier than extra cost.

Top global obstacles to traveling more sustainably
Costs – not being able to afford the extra expenditure 42%
Information / lack of certification – not knowing how to make my travel more sustainable 32%
Time – traveling sustainably would be too time consuming 22%
Destination – traveling sustainably would limit travel to less appealing destinations 22%
Luxury / comfort – sustainable travel does not meet the level of luxury / comfort accustomed to 20%

As sustainable travel intentions grow, travelers are still looking for ways to more easily fulfill these ambitions. 40 percent said that online booking sites offering a sustainable or eco-friendly filter option would help, while 32 percent continue to call for an international standard for identifying eco-friendly accommodations.

Many global travelers also indicated they engage in sustainable travel behavior because the activity itself adds a positive vacation experience to their trip.

Sustainable vacation activities that add to vacation enjoyment Percentage of global travelers who do this
Buying locally made products instead of mass-produced tourist souvenirs 53%
Being adventurous and using public transport instead of a taxi 52%
Going out of the way to find a local restaurant that only uses local ingredients 41%
Skipping tourist highlights in favor of less busy and often more rewarding sights 40%
Opting for a unique place to stay that also a certified eco-accommodation over a traditional hotel 30%

The report is based on research commissioned by 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 12,134 respondents were surveyed across 12 markets (1000+ from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, France, India, Italy, Japan, Spain, the UK and the US). Respondents completed an online survey in February and March 2018.


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