It appears that “sustainability” is no longer a buzzword. According to recent research by Booking.com, almost seven in 10 (69 percent) U.S. travelers identified sustainable travel as important to them, while just over half (53 percent) said they were more determined to make sustainable choices when looking to travel again in the future. One key driver for sustainability, according to the report, was witnessing the impact that tourism has on the environment while on vacation—which resulted in 45 percent of travelers making more eco-friendly choices in their everyday life.
Other findings include that a majority (62 percent) of U.S. travelers said they planned to stay in eco-accommodation in 2020. And, out of the 34 percent of travelers who have previously stayed in an eco-accommodation, over one-third (35 percent) did so specifically to help to reduce their impact on the environment.
Similarly, almost one in three (30 percent) U.S. travelers admitted they would be more encouraged to make sustainable travel choices if travel companies proposed alternative destinations to reduce overcrowding. Travelers are also considering alternative modes of transport to reach their destination, with 15 percent having opted to travel by train instead of car for longer distances to reduce their carbon footprint.
These findings suggest that when traveling is back on the agenda, it is likely that travelers will want to continue making considerate choices by heading to less-visited destinations and selecting alternative modes of transport to get there.
Additionally, going plastic-free and encouraging accommodations around the world to introduce measures that clamp down on single-use plastic looks likely to be a key objective for global travelers in the future. When it comes to the term “sustainable travel and tourism,” one in five (21 percent) U.S. travelers associates the term with reducing waste/recycling plastic. Further, 37 percent shared that they have brought their own reusable water bottle rather than buying plastic bottles when visiting a destination in the past year.
While many of the findings are promising, there are still obstacles to overcome. To note: 41 percent of U.S. travelers do not know how or where to find sustainable travel options and half (51 percent) think there aren't enough sustainable travel options available. This indicates that there remains an opportunity for more education around what sustainable travel options are already available.
To help convince the 39 percent of U.S. travelers who have not yet expressed interest in staying at an “eco-friendly” accommodation, Booking.com says having a universal eco-labeling system could help inspire others to travel sustainably. In fact, 58 percent of travelers admitted they would feel reassured about staying in an accommodation if it had an “eco-label.”
The research was commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 20,432 respondents across 22 countries. In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have traveled at least once in the past 12 months and be either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey took place in March 2020.