Stats: Travelers Seek Sustainable Options But Many Remain Overwhelmed

As travelers again take to the roads and skies, they are increasingly looking for ways to have more meaningful and conscientious travel experiences—from booking more sustainable options to looking for ways to improve their impact on the destinations they visit. That said, new research by Expedia Group Media Solutions has found that although 90 percent of consumers look for sustainable options when traveling, 70 percent feel overwhelmed by starting the process of being a more sustainable traveler.

According to Expedia, to make more responsible travel choices, consumers are seeking sustainability information from trusted travel resources and providers, including travel agencies, destinations, lodging providers, transportation providers and booking sites. But increased consumer attention toward sustainable tourism has also resulted in higher expectations for destinations and travel brands. To note: 7 in 10 consumers have avoided a destination or transportation option because they felt it was not truly committed to sustainable practices.

When it comes to “sustainable travel,” 69 percent of consumers define it as lessening environmental impacts; 66 percent say it’s supporting local communities; and 65 percent say supporting local cultures and communities. Just over half (52 percent) say it’s visiting lesser-known destinations. Not surprisingly, low environmental impact options have the highest recall among consumers, with 56 percent noting options for having such. When asked when choosing a destination, accommodation or means of travel, half (51 percent) noted they have seen options that are owned by or work with local cultures and communities, while just under half (48 percent) noted options that identify as supporting local businesses. Just over one-third (37 percent) noted buying carbon offsets or having carbon offsetting as an option.

Meaningful Travel Decisions

In the past two years, nearly half of consumers have made some sort of meaningful decision regarding sustainability when traveling. Forty-nine percent reported buying from local stores or restaurants (versus chains), 46 percent visited local cultural or historic sites, 43 percent used more environmentally friendly transportation and 42 percent bought from local cultures, communities or minority groups. Other responses with more than one-third of consumers saying they’ve done so included traveling to smaller or lesser-known areas or destinations, staying in lodging that’s actively lessening its environmental impact, paying more for sustainable options and volunteering time to help local community organizations at the destination. Even more consumers said they would make such meaningful decisions while traveling in the future.

Good to know: The report also found that half of consumers are willing to pay more for transportation, activities and lodging if the option was more sustainable. On average, they would be willing to pay 38 percent more to make their travels more sustainable.

Travelers Need More Information

Relating to the 70 percent of travelers who feel overwhelmed by starting the process of being a more sustainable traveler, two-thirds want to see more sustainability info from lodging and transportation providers. In addition, the types of info consumers want to see while planning include:

  • Recommendations for locally owned businesses and restaurants
  • Transportation options with lower environmental impacts
  • Info on how to best engage with local cultures and communities
  • Recommendations for destinations that support indigenous cultures and heritages
  • Walkable or bikeable destination recommendations
  • Recommendations for destinations that are not over-visited
  • Info on packing more sustainably
  • Info on volunteering with local organizations

Expedia surveyed over 11,000 people over the age of 18 in 11 markets, including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Brazil, U.K., France, Germany, India, China, Japan and Australia, between February 11 and March 6, 2022.

Source: Expedia Group

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