#EcoTravel: Sustainable travel stays expected to double in 2017 - survey

2017-05-09 16:30 - Unathi Nkanjeni
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Cape Town - With more than 7 billion people sharing the planet and some 1.2bn people having travelled in 2016 alone - it's clear the earth's natural resources are under increasing pressure. 

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly has marked 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. 

In essence, travellers are seeking a deeper appreciation for the world we live in. Now more than ever before tourism is a journey to “greater awareness of the rich heritage of various civilizations “ says the UNWTO, "offering an appreciation of the inherent values of different cultures, thereby contributing to the strengthening of peace in the world”.  

SEE: #EarthDay: 5 Ways your travels can make an impact

Travellers are more inclined to want to invest in experiences that not only broaden their own horizons but where it can make a difference to the people, nature and wildlife of the places they visit. Following earth day, an annual event created in the United States, global travel site, Booking.com, has released a global Sustainable Travel Report that shows projected trends of eco-consideration weighed by both travellers and accommodations for 2017.

The study was done across 11 markets, with more than a 1 000 respondents in each market, ranging  from 18-year-old or older, specific to those who had travelled at least once or more in 2016 or are planning a trip for 2017.

According to study, the number of travellers staying in eco-friendly or ‘green’ accommodation at least once could double this year with 65% of global travellers expressing this intention versus 34% who stayed in one or more last year.

SEE: #EcoTravel: Tap into nature's healing at iSimangaliso

However, international markets such as Australia, Brazil, Japan and the United States have seen a fall, with Australia down by 5%, Brazil down 8% and Japan and the US both down 4%.

"68% of global travellers are more likely to consider choosing an accommodation knowing that it was eco-friendly.  For a large 79%, sustainable considerations also impact their mode of transport when traveling, with 43% taking public transport whenever possible, 42% trying to walk, bike or hike as much as possible and nearly one-fifth (18%) flying less to reduce their carbon footprint," says Booking.com

"For some, sustainable travel is experiencing and boosting local markets with 64% of travellers saying they are willing to pay higher rates for food because it is locally produced."

SEE: #EcoTravel: Big events that can help you make a small but useful difference

According to the study,  when it comes to making luxury adjustments in order to stay somewhere eco-friendly, the vast majority of global travellers were more than happy to accept these, with 94% willing to stay in a property with energy saving light bulbs, 89% in one with AC/Heating units that only run while you’re in the room and 80% in one with low-flow showerheads.


Sustainable travel goals

The term ‘sustainable travel’ continues to mean many things to many people, but the role of accommodations in helping travelers to achieve their sustainable travel goals is clear. The research shows that over half (56%) consider staying in eco-friendly accommodation as sustainable travel, topping the list of what travelers think when they hear the term. For well over a third, it means conserving water by reusing towels and bed sheets (38%) and conserving the environment by reducing use of amenity goods such as shampoo, soap, toothbrush, shaving razor (35%).

For many, sustainable travel is also synonymous with a more authentic, local experience. 38% perceive the buying of locally-made products and supporting local artisans as sustainable travel, while 36% would choose an eco-friendly accommodation because it provides a more locally-relevant experience.

Sustainable travel considerations

Even though only 5% of global travelers actually believe it is easy to travel sustainably, 46% of globally travelers consider themselves a sustainable traveler, with Italy, Germany and China seeing a rise in those identifying this way since last year but in markets like Australia, Brazil, Japan and the US there has been a fall (down 5%, 8%, 4% and 4% respectively). Below is an overview of the top green/eco-friendly practices that global travelers are taking into account when considering a property to stay in.

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