Booking.com reveals 2017 sustainable travel intentions, goals and considerations

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To celebrate Earth Day on 22 April, Booking.com, the global leader in connecting travellers with the widest choice of incredible places to stay, has released findings from its global Sustainable Travel Report. In a year that the United Nation’s has designated as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, this new research points to some promising signs when it comes to the eco-considerations weighed by both travellers and accommodations.

Sustainable travel intentions

The number of travellers staying in an eco-friendly or ‘green’ accommodation at least once could double this year with 65 per cent of global travellers expressing this intention versus 34 per cent who stayed in one or more last year. In addition, 68 per cent confirm they are more likely to consider choosing an accommodation knowing that it was eco-friendly, with Chinese (93 per cent), Brazilian (83 per cent) and Spanish (80 per cent) travellers the most likely. For a large 79 per cent, sustainable considerations also impact their mode of transport when travelling, with 43 per cent taking public transport whenever possible, 42 per cent trying to walk, bike or hike as much as possible and nearly one fifth (18 per cent) flying less to reduce their carbon footprint.

When it comes to making luxury adjustments in order to stay somewhere eco-friendly, the vast majority of global travellers would be more than happy to accept these, with 94 per cent willing to stay in a property with energy saving lightbulbs, 89 per cent in one with AC/Heating units that only run while you’re in the room and 80 per cent in one with low flow showerheads. Below is an overview of the luxury adjustments global travellers would be willing to make to stay at an eco-friendly accommodation:

Luxury adjustments travellers would be willing to make to stay somewhere eco-friendly:
Energy saving light bulbs 94%
AC/Heating units that only run while you are in the room 89%
Low flow showerheads 80%
Recycled toilet paper 79%
Less frequent toiletry replacement 79%
Linen and towel chances less frequently 75%
Higher cost for food because its’ all locally produced 64%

Sustainable travel goals

The term ‘sustainable travel’ continues to mean many things to many people, but the role of accommodations in helping travellers to achieve their sustainable travel goals is clear. The research shows that over half (56 per cent) consider staying in eco-friendly accommodation as sustainable travel, topping the list of what travellers think when they hear the term. For well over a third, it means conserving water by reusing towels and bed sheets (38 per cent) and conserving the environment by reducing use of amenity goods such as shampoo, soap, toothbrush, shaving razor (35 per cent).

For many, sustainable travel is also synonymous with a more authentic, local experience. 38 per cent perceive the buying of locally-made products and supporting local artisans as sustainable travel, while 36 per cent would choose an eco-friendly accommodation because it provides a more locally-relevant experience. Below is an overview of the top reasons why global travellers choose eco-friendly accommodations:

Top five reasons global travellers choose eco-friendly accommodations:
To help reduce environmental impact 52%
They provide a more locally-relevant experience 36%
They treat the local community better 31%
They tend to provide more locally-sourced/organic food 30%
An interest in experiencing new trends in travel accommodations 24%

“Just as where we stay on holiday plays a pivotal role in the enjoyment of our trip, so it also plays an increasingly important role in helping people to travel sustainably,” comments Pepijn Rijvers, Chief Marketing Officer at Booking.com. “Whether by serving locally grown food, using or selling local crafts, conserving water and energy, recycling or connecting guests with the local community, accommodations today are working on a range of sustainability efforts and it’s heartening to see travellers so keen to explore and embrace these. Since adding eco-based interests and destination endorsements to our Passion Search tool at Booking.com, we’ve also seen a growing number of endorsements left by travellers, so the sustainable appetite is there.”

Sustainable travel considerations

Even though only 5 per cent of global travellers actually believe it is easy to travel sustainably, 46 per cent of globally travellers consider themselves a sustainable traveller, with Italy, Germany and China seeing a rise in those identifying this way since last year but in markets like Australia, Brazil, Japan and the US there has been a fall (down 5 per cent, 8 per cent, 4 per cent and 4 per cent respectively). Below is an overview of the top green/eco-friendly practices that global travellers are taking into account when considering a property to stay in:

Top five most important green/eco-friendly practices when considering a property to stay in:
Solar Energy 67%
Sustainable water system 43%
Low-flow showers/toilets 36%
Organic restaurants/food options 31%
Recycling baskets in room 29%

“At Booking.com we have a mission to empower people to experience the world, a world that should not be taken for granted,” adds Pepijn Rijvers. “We are continually exploring improved ways to uncover and share the sustainability efforts of our accommodation partners with those searching and selecting on our site, and as part of our own commitment to improving destinations worldwide, we recently launched Booking.com Booster. Through this accelerator programme for start-ups in sustainable tourism, we will help maximise the impact that these different ventures across the globe can have. Ensuring a sustainable future is a collaborative effort, one that means sharing our expertise and working together, whether destinations, accommodations, travel providers or travellers.”

Data was collected across 11 markets, with over 1,000 respondents in each. Respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have travelled at least once in 2016 and be planning at least one trip for 2017. All respondents had to be at least part of the decision-making process when planning most of their trips. Data was collected in March 2017 by Booking.com with the assistance of an international panel provider.

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