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Booking.com reveals how the ‘pandemic effect’ could finally tip sustainable travel intent for Aussies into impactful action

June 9, 2021 OTA News, Sustainable Tourism No Comments

Booking.com today releases the 2021 Sustainable Travel Reportrevealing insights from more than 29,000 travellers across 30 countries, which indicate the pandemic might have been the tipping point for travellers to finally commit to their own sustainable journey. The latest research finds Aussie travellers are more committed than ever to travel in a mindful way, with 61% of travellers reporting they believe people have to act now to save the planet for future generations.

Booking.com’s 2021 Sustainable Travel Report reveals that more than three quarters (72%) of Australian travellers think sustainable travel is a vital part of achieving this, with two thirds (51%) stating that the pandemic has influenced them to want to travel more sustainably. The timing of the report makes the findings even more poignant, as the travel industry looks to rebuild amidst the ongoing pandemic, says Tracey Foxall, Regional Manager Oceania at Booking.com.

“Our research uncovers how the travel hiatus has opened Australians’ eyes to the impact, both positive and negative, that their trips can have on local ecosystems and communities around the world,” says Foxall. “At Booking.com we believe travel is a force for good, but it has to be done in the right way to ensure we are protecting the planet for future generations.”

According to the report, the desire to live in a more environmentally conscious way isn’t limited to travel; almost half (46%) admit the pandemic has shifted their attitude to make positive changes in their everyday lives, with recycling (47%) and reducing food waste (37%) being the top priorities at home.

These day-to-day sustainable commitments are consistent with their intentions for future trips with 74% wanting to reduce general waste, 72% wanting to reduce their energy consumption (e.g. by turning off air conditioning and lights when they are not in a room) and 69% wanting to use more environmentally friendly modes of transport such as walking, cycling or public transport over taxis or rental cars.

Respect for the local community is also high on the list as almost three quarters (65%) want to have authentic experiences that are representative of the local culture when they travel, 74% believe increasing cultural understanding and preservation of cultural heritage is crucial and 72% want to ensure the economic impact of the industry is spread equally in all levels of society.

Furthermore, 63% will go as far as avoiding popular destinations and attractions to ensure they aren’t contributing to overcrowding challenges and helping do their part to disperse the positive benefits of travel to less frequently visited destinations and communities.

Breaking down sustainable travel barriers

Many of these sustainable pledges are coming to fruition, with travellers revealing that while on holiday in the past 12 months, 41% made a conscious decision to turn off their air conditioning/heater in their accommodation when they weren’t there, 44% took their own reusable water bottle and 33% did activities to support the local community. In fact, over half (53%) admit they get annoyed if accommodations stop them from being sustainable, for example not offering recycling facilities.

While 72% of travellers say they want to stay in a sustainable accommodation in the upcoming year – a notable increase from 55% in 2016 and up 7% from 2020 just prior to the pandemic. In fact, the 37% of travellers that said they have not stayed in a sustainable property in the past year, 27% said they didn’t even know that they existed, 27% said they couldn’t find any options where they were travelling and 22% said that they didn’t know how to find them. Overall, 46% of travellers still believe that in 2021, there simply aren’t enough sustainable travel options available.

While 3 out of 4** accommodation partners say they have implemented sustainable steps at their property, only one-third (31%**) actively communicate about their efforts proactively to potential guests, indicating that significant challenges remain to making sustainability information easy to access for travelers at earlier stages of the booking process.

Closing the gap, step by step

Booking.com is currently rolling out a program for properties that will support them in taking the next steps to become more sustainable, no matter where they might be on the journey. This includes sharing guidance, insights and best practices with properties via various educational opportunities, including handbooks and dedicated content, all available via the Booking.com Partner Hub.

In connection, Booking.com is currently displaying over 30 certifications officially approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), Green Tourism and the EU Ecolabel, as well as multiple hotel chain sustainability programs. The company is sourcing this information directly from the certification bodies and displaying it on the property pages of partners who hold one of these established third-party certifications.

To complement this, Booking.com is also encouraging its accommodation partners to update their sustainability information, which includes 32 impactful practices across five key categories: waste, energy and greenhouse gases, water, supporting local communities and protecting nature. From this global roll-out, hundreds of thousands of properties have already started to share at least some of their sustainability information with Booking.com, which can be viewed on the ‘Sustainability initiatives’ banner on each of their property pages. While it’s still early days, this is an important first step in providing more sustainability information in a transparent way to consumers, ultimately making it easier for them to start making more sustainable travel choices.

“As a leader in travel, at Booking.com we believe we have an important responsibility to make sustainable choices easier, both for accommodation providers and travellers. While there is much, much more to be done, we are optimistic about the passion and commitment we are seeing from all sides,” says Foxall.

“The more sustainable practices we can help our partners to identify and implement, the more we can experiment with how best to highlight this information to customers and ultimately make sustainability a transparent and easily identifiable part of their travel decision-making process. A small change like eliminating single-use plastics or switching to energy-efficient LED light bulbs might seem insignificant in isolation, but multiplied by millions of travelers and properties around the world, these small steps all start to add up to a much bigger potential positive impact so that together we can create a truly regenerative and responsible future for all travel.”

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