SINGAPORE, 22 April 2022: In celebration of Earth Day, 22 April, Travelport, a global technology company that powers travel bookings for airlines and hotels worldwide, released a trend report about the state of sustainability in travel.
Together with two of its partners, Virgin Atlantic and Trainline, Travelport shines a light on the sector’s current initiatives, focusing on creating a greener industry for tomorrow.
Airlines are constantly seeking new ways to be greener, and with a 15-year history in the space, Virgin Atlantic is committed to achieving net-zero by 2050, eliminating the airlines’ carbon emissions altogether.
“We know that, as an airline, we have a pivotal role to play in protecting the planet while connecting people across the globe and strengthening crucial trade connections,” said Virgin Atlantic head of sustainability Luke Ervine. “For more than a decade we’ve been leading the way in the decarbonization of the aviation industry. As we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, our focus on our carbon targets, paired with global collaboration across the sector and beyond, will help us reach net zero emissions by 2050. There is a long road ahead, but we’re committed to pioneering change and being transparent on our progress.”
The Rise of Rail
Train travel has become the hero of a global trend focused on the entirety of a journey. Trainline customers save over 1.5 megatons of CO2 emissions each year by travelling via rail instead of the road.
“Awareness of the carbon footprint of travel is at an all-time high, and as business travel starts to resume in high numbers again, we have the ideal opportunity to encourage a significant change in travel habits,” said Trainline Partner Solutions Global Distribution Director Liz Emmott. “The decision is no longer about price alone, but also how travel is contributing to companies’ net-zero commitments. By making sure rail options are readily available and attractive, we have a great opportunity to support the switch to rail.”
While the travel industry and the world at large continue to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, destinations that are viewed as environmentally friendly are gaining popularity with tourists. According to a report by ESOMAR-certified market research*, the ecotourism industry is expected to grow by 15% CAGR, surpassing a valuation of USD17 billion. Trend data released from Travelport highlights how the following destinations have become more popular with travellers when compared to their 2019 rankings by booking volume:
(vs. #35 in 2019)
- Moving up 11 places in the ranking, Norway’s official slogan is “powered by nature”. Eight tourist destinations have been certified as sustainable by the International Sustainable Tourism Initiative, and the country has an audacious goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030. Currently, they are one of Europe’s largest providers of hydropower, and they fuel 95% of Norway’s power from that source as well.
- So far in 2022, Norway has recovered more than half of its gross pre-pandemic travel activity (56%), with the top destination city, Oslo, primarily attracting solo travellers (42%) and couples (30%) with all traveller types staying 25 days, on average.
- Denmark: #40 (vs. #44 in 2019)
- Moving up four spots, Denmark ranks #1 on the Environmental Performance Index*. The country’s capital, Copenhagen, is on track to be carbon neutral by 2025, which is impressive even in a city where 9 out of 10 people own a bike and use it to travel at least 1 mile per day.
- Denmark has recovered nearly half of its gross pre-pandemic travel activity (49%) so far this year, with the top destination city, Copenhagen, primarily attracting solo travellers (38%) and couples (36%), with all travellers types staying an average of 20 days per trip.
- Ecuador: #44 (vs. #56 in 2019)
- The World Travel Awards named Ecuador the world’s leading green destination, and when compared to its popularity in 2019, the country has climbed 12 spots. As one of the most biodiverse destinations on the planet, Ecuador offers visitors access to some of the best eco-lodges in South America.
- So far in 2022, Ecuador has recovered two-thirds of its gross pre-pandemic travel activity (67%), with the top destination city, Guayaquil, primarily attracting solo travellers (42%) and families (30%), with all traveller types staying 28 days, on average.
- Iceland: #69 (vs. #79 in 2019)
- Jumping 10 places in the rankings, Iceland is almost entirely powered by geothermal energy, which makes it one of the greenest countries in the world. Their renewable energy program alone is said to produce the largest amount of green energy per capita. Visitors often come for incredible views of the Northern Lights or to soak in the naturally heated pools of Myvatn Nature Baths.
- Iceland has recovered more than half of its gross pre-pandemic travel activity (58%) so far this year, with the top destination city, Reykjavik, primarily attracting couples (48%) who are staying 10 days per trip, on average.
- Costa Rica: #46 (vs. #73 in 2019)
- With one of the biggest jumps on the list, Costa Rica’s popularity has increased 27 spots. As one of the most eco-friendly countries in the world, 93% of its electricity comes from renewable sources. This tropical and volcanic landscape is also fiercely protected to preserve the country’s diverse wildlife and ecology, which is said to hold around 5% of the planet’s total biodiversity. Tourists enjoy coast to coast cycling trips, exploring miles of rainforest, hiking volcanic craters, and relaxing on sandy beaches.
- So far in 2022, Costa Rica has recovered 90% of its gross pre-pandemic travel activity with the top destination city, San Jose, primarily attracting a mix of couples (34%), families (33%) and solo travellers (27%) staying 15 days, on average.
“Being an environmentalist should not be a competitive advantage, but rather something that the entire travel industry embraces and believes in,” said Travelport chief commercial officer travel partners Jason Clarke. “For the sector to become truly sustainable, we must first inform customers about the sustainable choices and make those easy to understand. Next, end-to-end green options must be integrated together seamlessly. Finally, we must provide the consumer with the ability to offset every mile they travel. It is crucial that the industry works together to ensure a greener path forward in the future.”