Save the planet and travel sustainably

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, 25 April 2019: More travellers than ever believe they must act now and make sustainable travel choices to save the planet.

Following Earth Day celebrations, 22 April, the spotlight shines on how travellers are voicing demands that the travel industry to adopt sustainable values.

In its latest annual sustainable travel report, revealed almost three quarters (72%) of travellers believe that people need to act now and make sustainable travel choices to save the planet for future generations.

While results were relatively consistent across ages, almost three-quarters (74%) of 46 to 55 year olds believe most strongly that this is needed, followed by Millennials at 71%.

The views expressed by travellers across the world are timely, considering the special report that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued in 2018, which asserts that the world has just over a decade to restrict global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, beyond which the risk of floods, droughts and extreme heat will significantly worsen.


Consistent with overall intentions to make more sustainable travel choices, sustainable stays are growing in popularity, with almost three quarters (73%) of global travellers intending to stay at least once in an eco-friendly or green accommodation when looking at the year ahead.

This is the fourth consecutive year that research has seen this figure trend up, from 62% in 2016 to 65% in 2017, and 68% in 2018.**

Additionally, 70% of global travellers say they would be more likely to book accommodation knowing it was eco-friendly, whether they were looking for a sustainable stay or not.

However, when it comes to recognising a sustainable place to stay, almost three quarters (72%) of global travellers say that they are not aware of the existence of eco-labels for vacation accommodations.

 Well over a third (37%) believe an international standard for identifying eco-friendly accommodation would help encourage them to travel more sustainably, and 62% would feel better about staying in accommodation if they knew it had an eco-label.

Sustainable Struggles

Despite the best intentions, it’s not all plain sailing for would-be green travellers. The report also exposes the common barriers travellers face when making sustainable travel choices:

  % of global respondents who agree 
I do not know how to make my travel more sustainable 37%
Although I do see options to travel more sustainably, other options tend to appeal more 34%
I cannot afford the extra expenditure of sustainable travel 36%
My agenda constrains me in the sustainable choices I can make 34%
Sustainable travel destinations appeal to me less than other destinations 34%
I understand what I can do to travel more sustainably 50%

Travel companies need to step up to the plate and play a more important role in the eyes of travellers:

71% of travellers think that travel companies should offer consumers more sustainable travel choices.

On the other hand, almost half (46%) of global travellers acknowledge that they find it harder to make sustainable choices while on vacation than in everyday life.

Almost a third (31%) of global travellers admit their vacation is a special time during which they do not want to think about sustainability.

Aspirations and Actions

Research results also indicated that travellers would be more encouraged to travel sustainably if there were economic incentives offered, such as tax breaks when choosing eco-friendly options (46%).

This is closely followed by online booking sites offering a sustainable or eco-friendly filter option (45%).

When it comes to in-destination experiences, over half (52%) of global travellers say they now alter behaviours to be more sustainable while travelling, such as walking, riding a bike or hiking whenever possible.

Plus, 68% would like the money they spend on travel to go back into the local community.

Likewise, almost three quarters (72%) of global travellers are seeking authentic experiences that are representative of the local culture, while two in five (41%) request that travel companies offer tips on how to be more sustainable while travelling and 56% of respondents say that if there was an option to offset the carbon footprint on their vacation accommodation, they would do it.

“This is the fourth consecutive year that has commissioned its sustainable travel report and it’s heartening to see the sustainable travel motivations and intentions amongst travellers, though it’s clear that complex challenges continue to exist when it comes to fully realise these,” said SVP & head of accommodation Pepijn Rijvers.

** Although this year’s survey covers six additional markets, the figure is still up to 72% if we only consider the markets from last year’s survey.