Travellers Less Willing to Pay Premium for Sustainable Travel, Survey Finds

by Editor
Published: Updated:

Booking.com has just released its most extensive sustainable travel research to date, which spotlights how economic uncertainty is informing travel decisions.

The research highlights a fundamental dilemma with sustainable tourism right now, wherein people feel forced to choose between cutting costs and being more mindful of their travel choices, the assumption being that sustainable travel options are more expensive than the “mainstream.”

Cost vs Conscience

  • 65% of Canadian travellers say they want to travel more sustainably over the coming 12 months, while 75% say the global energy crisis and the rising cost of living are impacting their spending plans 
  • With rising inflation, more than half of Canadian travellers believe that they must choose between sustainability and spending, with 52% believing more sustainable travel options are too expensive
  • While 58% think the environment will get worse in the next six months, 78% believe the cost of living crisis will also get worse, leaving people unsure of what to prioritize as they try to reconcile what is important to them

The Suitable Travel Conundrum

We’ve been talking about sustainable travel since 2015, and since then, these are some of the most common complaints we hear from Wander readers:

  • Limited options: Some travellers feel that there are limited options for sustainable travel, such as eco-friendly accommodations or sustainable transportation and activities; the problem may simply be that there are not many convenient sources to find and research options online.
  • High costs: Sustainable tourism options can be more expensive than traditional travel, which can be a barrier for some consumers.
  • Inconvenience: Sustainable travel options may be less convenient than traditional travel options, such as taking longer to reach a destination or requiring more planning.
  • Lack of transparency: Some travellers feel that sustainable travel options are not transparent enough about their environmental and social impact, making it difficult to make informed choices.
  • Greenwashing: Some travellers also feel that certain companies are engaging in “greenwashing,” or making misleading claims about their sustainability practices to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers (sounds all too familiar to the “well-washing” of late). The Booking.com survey showed one in four travellers today not trusting that the options labelled are truly more sustainable, so clearly, there are huge strides for the travel industry to make in gaining the trust of consumers.
  • Inconsistent standards: Along with greenwashing, there is a lack of consistent standards for what qualifies as “sustainable” in the industry, which can make it difficult for consumers to determine which options are truly environmentally and socially responsible.

“While travel may be back, rising living costs and climate anxiety has led to greater demand for more budget and planet-friendly options. Travel can be a force for good and travellers themselves are proving to be today’s changemakers, adopting more sustainable travel habits and seeking responsible experiences. We are listening and together with our partners across the industry, we are leading positive change and examining every part of the trip to support travellers and benefit local communities and environments. More sustainable travel is an investment for the world, and we are committed to making it easier for everyone to experience travel in a more mindful and responsible way, no matter where they are on their sustainability journey.” 

– Glenn Fogel, CEO of Booking.com

To download Booking.com’s 2023 full Research Report, please visit the Booking.com global media room.

Sustainable Travel Resources We Recommend

Responsible Travel is a reputable source of options with a focus on responsible tourism and ethical travel. The website has a wide range of destinations and activities to choose from, including eco-friendly accommodations, tours, and volunteer opportunities and provides detailed information about each option, including its sustainability credentials and how it benefits the local community.

Sustainable Travel International is a non-profit organization that works to promote sustainable travel practices and support tourism destinations around the world. The website provides information and resources, including guides, eco-certification programs, and information about responsible travel companies. The organization also offers a carbon offset program for travellers who want to reduce their carbon footprint while travelling.

Image credits: Booking.com

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