The pandemic has given the global tourism industry some time to look back on its impacts on nature. Having seen the recovery of the natural environment and wildlife in several popular tourist destinations, travelers become more attentive to travel sustainably and move towards more responsible tourism in the future.
Booking.com has conducted a responsible travel survey with a sample of 20,934 travelers from 28 countries around the world who have taken a business or leisure trip in the past 12 months and have planned to travel in the coming 12 months. The analysis results after collecting responses show that one of the positive effects Covid-19 has on the tourism industry is to boost travelers’ interest in traveling responsibly for nature and community at the destination.
More than half of global travelers (53%) are interested in sustainable tourism
Following the outbreak of Covid-19, an average of 53% of travelers wanted to travel more sustainably after noticing negative human impacts on the natural environment, especially after witnessing the wildlife reappear at attractions that were previously crowded with tourists. In Vietnam, the proportion of travelers starting to look for more sustainable ways to travel is 59%. The country with the highest proportion of travelers shifting to responsible travel is Colombia as 74% of Colombian travelers stated that they have recognized the human impact on the environment thanks to Covid-19 and a desire to travel more sustainably in the future.
The two countries with the least change in traveler sentiment about sustainable travel belong to the Netherlands and Japan with respectively 27% and 30% of visitors in the survey saying they want to travel more responsibly in the future. However, this does not mean that sustainable travel has no impact on these countries. They are, contradictorily, where people already have a thorough awareness of their actions and understand the importance of responsible travel to the natural environment, so their decision to go on a sustainable trip remains unchanged regardless of Covid-19.
69% of global travelers expect the travel industry to offer more sustainable travel options
Overall, 69% of the surveyed want to have more sustainable options when traveling in the future. Vietnam alone has 81% of the respondents agree with expecting more sustainable travel options, ranking fourth only after Colombia and Thailand (both at 86%), and Brazil (at 84%).
In particular, the responsible and sustainable travel options include:
– Avoid crowds
Travelers who have planned to travel in 2021 claimed that they wanted to avoid clashing with other tourists by choosing to explore lesser-known destinations this year. Of which, 63% of travelers said that they would avoid overly crowded attractions while 48% of the surveyed would avoid crowding and 51% would avoid traveling in the peak season.
Interested in responsible travel, more and more people want the tourism industry to have different sustainable options for them to choose from. Specifically, 46% of the surveyed travelers want to take advantage of low-season travel packages and 36% search for travel suggestions to second destinations to avoid overtourism in peak seasons.
– Reduce waste, recycle plastic and minimize the impact on the environment while traveling
Since the pandemic, travelers have been thinking considerably about their consumption and waste during the trip. More than half of the respondents (53%) show their willingness to reduce waste and recycle plastic when traveling when all travel restrictions were lifted.
– Choose travel companies that support local communities and the natural environment
Global travelers are more and more aware of their impact on nature and communities than ever before, which will help sustainable tourism and regenerate travel in the future. Two-thirds of travelers (67%) said their travel purpose was to support the recovery of their chosen destinations and more than half (55%) wanted to choose travel companies that actually support local communities or nature to ensure their spending will be used correctly.
In addition, travelers wishing to travel responsibly also tend to choose to travel locally, take trains instead of planes, or choose public transportation over taxis, etc.
Knowing the wishes of travelers about sustainable travel options, companies in the industry should implement new “green” initiatives to give travelers more choices towards responsibility and sustainability in tourism, and to promote this trend even more when travel resumes completely.