The world has a finite number of resources. Mass tourism has been threatening the purity of the world’s natural wonders for quite some time now. Travelers and travel industry operators continue to turn a blind eye towards the negative effects tourism has on the environment, local communities and cultures.
This is where sustainable travel comes into play.
What is Sustainable Travel?
Sustainable travel is a solution wherein tourism is carried out long-term without negatively impacting the natural and cultural environments. It is about valuing the environment and making sure our natural resources are not heavily exhausted. It is when travelers are aware of their part in the rising pollution levels caused by travel and how it impacts local wildlife, people, small businesses, and native cultures.
Let us go over some eye-opening trends and statistics that will continue in 2022 to get a better understanding of sustainable tourism.
Who Is Responsible For Sustainable Tourism?
Keep in mind that sustainable tourism consists of intangible services put together behind-the-scenes.
WIthout government regulations, sustainable tourism is driven mostly by passionate individuals who volunteer their time and prowess to simply “do the right thing”. The recent pandemic (COVID-19) has given sustainable tourism a nudge in the right direction as well.
To answer the original question….
1. Jury’s Still Out
A group of individuals were asked about the accountable party for bolstering positive environmental changes vis-a-vis travel. 26% said the government, 23% said tourism authorities, 20% said us humans, and 6% said online travel agents. (avantio.com)
2. The Time to Act is NOW
Pointing fingers at each other simply won’t do, we have to act now! A study conducted by Booking.com showed that 72% of travelers thought sustainable travel was important, and that we, as travelers, need to act now to save the planet and its very finite resources. (booking.com)
3. 87% of Travelers Want to Travel Sustainably
The same study conducted by Booking.com shows that 87% of global travelers wish to travel sustainably right away. (booking.com)
4. Fly Out Only When Necessary
Another study that involved European consumers showed that 40% have decided to stop flying to alleviate climate change. (smartvel.com)
5. Sustainable Travel is the Future
It is safe to assume the % of global travelers who wish to adopt sustainable travel in future years will only increase. A study conducted by Booking.com showed only 62% of global travelers interested in sustainable travel in 2016. This number jumped to 87% after the pandemic, and will only continue to grow in 2022 with increasing awareness of tourism’s negative impact on the environment. (booking.com)
What has inspired sustainable travel?
6. The Pandemic Effect
Some day the “pandemic effect” finally tipped sustainable travel into impactful action, and they’re not wrong. 51% of travelers in a study said that the pandemic made them want to travel more sustainably in the future. (avantio.com)
7. Excessive Waste & Loss of Habitat
Other factors that concerned almost 46% of them was excessive waste generation. 38% were also concerned about the increasing threats to natural and wildlife habitats across the globe. (avantio.com)
8. CO₂ Emissions & Overtourism
The rising levels of CO2 emissions concerned over 29% of participants, while another 30% were worried about overtourism. (avantio.com)
9. Back To Nature
Many people started traveling again in 2021 and over the past year, almost 60% of travelers said the beauty of nature was what inspired them to think about the environment and the gruelling effects their trip may have had on the environment. (luggagehero.com)
10. The Guilt is Overwhelming
32% of travelers felt guilty about the adverse effects their trip had on the environment. (luggagehero.com)
11. Stumbling Upon Hidden Gems
40% of travelers sought to find lesser-known, offbeat locations in remote areas (away from the crowds) and were very happy with what they found. (luggagehero.com)
12. Overcrowded Attractions
69% of them have gone as far as to say they’d avoid visiting (and promoting) popular attractions so they’re not adding to the already skyrocketing overcrowded challenges. (luggagehero.com)
13. Bringing Back Local Tourism
54% of travelers saw a visible impact on local tourism, which had taken a serious hit ever since the pandemic struck. This helped them think more about the local tourist market and focus on helping them recover. (luggagehero.com)
14. Affected Locals & Their Livelihood
This may not occur to most at first, but upon contemplation, it becomes apparent that unsustainable tourism affects the locals and their livelihoods. 47% of travelers decided to adopt sustainable travel methods and saw the positive impact it had on the local society and economy. (luggagehero.com)
15. Local Culture & Community
73% of travelers wish to have more authentic experiences while traveling to places closeby and afar that represent the local culture and community. (luggagehero.com)
16. Cultural Heritage Preservation
84% of them think that it is important that we spend some time understanding the local culture and the involved steps of cultural heritage preservation. This will help us appreciate other cultures and imbibe a sense of responsibility wherever we go! (luggagehero.com)
17. Economic Impact on Local Society
76% of travelers believe that the economic impact of the travel and tourism industry must be spread equally among all levels of society. The way to go about this is avoiding overcrowded tourist spots and seeking out hidden gems unheard of. (luggagehero.com)
18. Eco-Friendly Accommodation
30% of travelers have already started looking for and booking eco-friendly accommodations over luxurious hotels. (luggagehero.com)
Barriers Still Remain
19. Actions speak louder than words
Looking back at the years 2020 and 2021, it is evident that even though they wanted to, 40% of global travelers did not stay in eco-friendly accommodation when on holiday. (booking.com)
20. Lack of Awareness
36% of travelers didn’t know eco-friendly accommodation was a thing, 32% went looking for such options (to no avail), and 31% didn’t know where to go looking for them. (booking.com)
21. Lack of Resources
46% of travelers believe that there are just not enough sustainable travel options out there, even in 2021. So yes, barriers still remain. But we mustn’t lose sight of the main objective in mind- protecting the planet. (booking.com)
22. Lack of Recycling Facilities
53% expressed annoyance when the accommodation they stayed at did not have recycling facilities. (drifttravel.com)
23. An Inconvenience?
While 75% of Americans claim to make more sustainable decisions while traveling in the future, 48.3% of them will only do so if it doesn’t inconvenience them. (vacationer.com)
24. Is Sustainability Top of the List?
3 out of every 4 American adults will be conscientious about travel plans in 2022 but only 5% of them think sustainability and carbon footprint are trumped by other factors, like cost. (vacationer.com)
25. Cost, Time & Convenience
An overwhelming figure of 61.7% of travelers stated that cost was the most important factor that came into play while booking trips. This was immediately followed by time and convenience. (vacationer.com)
26. A Small Price To Pay
Even so, it would appear that over 71% of adult Americans would spend more on their vacation if it meant lower carbon footprints. An astonishing 33.2% of them said they are willing to spend up to $250 extra while almost 9% are willing to spend between $250 and $500. (vacationer.com)
A Step In The Right Direction
What are some of the day-to-day commitments we can adopt to help the environment?
27. Reducing General Waste
84% of participants in a survey think we can start by reducing general waste. This includes separating waste, recycling, using reusable grocery bags, water bottles, and more. (booking.com)
28. Reducing Energy Consumption
83% of participants in the same survey believe reducing energy consumption is another easy way to start. Simply by keeping check of your electronic appliances and making sure you turn them off when not in use is all there is to it. (booking.com)
29. Waste Management at Home
When it comes to waste management at home, we all have a part to play. 49% believe recycling is key and 42% believe reducing food waste is top priority. Both are fairly easy to implement across all households as well, so it should be a good place to start. (avantio.com)
30. Green Modes of Transportation
In the same survey, 79% of participants believe that using environment-friendly modes of transportation will be beneficial. Walking and cycling to your destination instead of using personal cars is ideal. For longer routes, using public transportation might work. (avantio.com)
31. Say No to Daily Room Service
When on vacation, 27% of participants believe that opting out of daily room service might be a good idea. Cleaning up after yourselves whenever necessary might help reduce the need for daily room cleaning that ultimately helps reduce water wastage. (avantio.com)
32. Reusable Facilities
In the same study, another 27% believed that reusable plates and cutlery can be used for meals and room service.
33. Sustainable Travel Decisions
According to a survey released on April 22 (in honor of Earth Day), 39% of participants claim they always manage to make sustainable travel decisions and that this is not an action to put off for the next year. (travelagentcentral.com)
"How Are They Being Green?"
...one might ask.
34. Turning Off Electronic Appliances
Over the past 12 months, while on vacation, 45% of travelers made sure to turn off their electronic appliances when they left their rooms. (drifttravel.com)
35. Reusable Bottles
43% made sure to buy reusable water bottles before their trip so they didn’t have to buy plastic bottles en-route or at the destination. (drifttravel.com)
36. Shopping at Local Stores
42% of them made sure to shop at small shops in an effort to support the local economy. 33% of them booked local activities to support the local community. (drifttravel.com)
Obstacles For Sustainable Travel
37. Room For Improvement
While 39% of travelers manage to engage in sustainable travel, 48% indicated that they rarely or never manage to travel sustainably. Clearly even though there are promising strides for a sustainable tomorrow, there is plenty of room for improvement. (travelagentcentral.com)
38. Extra Expenditure
When asked what the top obstacles were for practicing sustainable travel, 42% of participants in a survey claimed it was the extra expenditure that came with it. (travelagentcentral.com)
39. Lack of Literature
32% claimed they have heard of sustainable travel but don’t know how to make it second nature, suggesting a lack of information. (travelagentcentral.com)
40. Lack of Green Travel Options
22% think that sustainable travel demands too much extra time and effort. Unless we have better and cheaper sustainable travel options, it is not feasible. (travelagentcentral.com)
41. Limited Travel Destinations
Another 22% of travelers think that sustainable travel limits your destination options. By restricting flight travel, your destinations are limited to a domestic radius which is not ideal for those who wish to travel abroad and experience other cultures. (travelagentcentral.com)
42. Shift From Luxuries
20% believe that we have all been accustomed to a certain level of comfort and luxury. Giving that up for the sake of a greener planet is debatably hard. (travelagentcentral.com)
43. Booking Sites Should Label Their Sustainable Rentals
There is a lack of sustainable travel options- that’s already been established. 40% of travelers think that all booking sites should label their sustainable properties (like vacation rentals). (avantio.com)
44. Online Filter For Sustainable Options
37% of travelers think that all online travel bookings should have a filter for sustainable options to incorporate sustainability in the booking process more seamlessly. (avantio.com)
45. Lack of Electric Planes & Trains
A lack of green modes of transportation is a serious concern. The good news is that 46% of travelers said that there is a need for these modes of transportation in the future- be it electric planes or trains- and they’d be more than happy to use them. (travelagentcentral.com)
46. Lack of Cost-Effective Options
As “happy” as travelers are to use them, we need to consider feasibility. 44% of travelers think that sustainable travel needs to be more cost effective so everyone can start using them. (travelagentcentral.com)
Surprising Stats on Sustainable Cities
The global cities everyone thinks of getting whisked away to - be it Paris or New York- are some of the world’s worst polluters. There are some cities, however, that have committed to creating a greener future for their citizens. Here are some interesting statistics to read through:
47. San Francisco, California
San Francisco was the first US city that banned plastic bags and utensils in 2019. This city goes one step further to ensure 80% of their waste is either recycled, composted, or reused. (lonelyplanet.com)
48. Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver is aiming to become the “world’s greenest city”. Almost 95% of the city’s electricity is supplied by renewable sources (90% hydroelectricity). (greencitytimes.com)
49. Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen works towards becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral city, and has made good headway already. Only 2% of the city’s waste goes to landfills. They recycle the rest of the waste, or it is converted into energy at the city’s new waste-to-energy power plant. (lonelyplanet.com)
50. Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon has been working on sustainability for a while now. This city managed to reduce their energy consumption by 28% between 2012 and 2017. By 2030, they aim to bring down CO2 emissions by 60%, and if all goes according to plan, achieve carbon neutrality by 2050! (sustaineurope.com)
Singapore bagged the title of “most sustainable Asian city” in 2018 despite its ever-growing population. Many of the city’s beloved attractions (like Gardens by the Bay and Jewel Changi) were constructed around the core principles of sustainability, and by the year 2030, they aim to make 80% of the city’s architecture eco-friendly. (lonelyplanet.com)
52. Portland, Oregon
Portland has always been about low-impact and sustainable living. Almost 50% of its power comes from renewable energy. 25% of the population commutes to work by bike, Flex Cars (carpooling) or public transport. 67% of their waste is treated locally and composted. (urbangreenbluegrids.com)
53. Ljubljana, Slovenia
Ljubljana is an increasingly green city. More than 10 hectares of the city are pedestrianized. Their state-of-the-art waste management system has brought down the waste sent to landfill by 80%. They aim to bring this number down further: waste of 60 kg per person per year by 2025! (europa.eu)
54. Helsinki, Finland
Helsinki’s approach towards sustainability is most evident in its tourism by increasing their eco-friendly accommodation. Almost 75% of their hotel rooms have been certified as environmentally friendly already, and the rest have a rough environmental plan in place to adopt it in the near future. (lux.com)