Booking.com: 48% of Americans Value Sustainable Travel, But It’s Not Their Top Priority

montezillon, switzerland mountains on a cloudy day

74% of study participants plan to embrace eco-friendly travel in the next 12 months. (Credit: Booking.com)

by | Apr 22, 2024

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Booking.com has released new findings from annual sustainable travel research, shedding light on American travelers’ shifting attitudes and behaviors. Drawing insights from a comprehensive survey of over 31,000 travelers across 34 countries and territories, the study exposes both the burgeoning interest in sustainable travel and the obstacles impeding its widespread adoption.

The research reveals a notable desire among Americans to embrace sustainable travel, with 48% acknowledging its importance. However, for many, sustainability remains secondary to other factors when planning or booking trips. Just over a fourth of those surveyed feel resigned, believing the environmental damage is irreversible. A quarter of respondents downplay the severity of climate change impacting their travel decisions.

Call for Collaborative Action

Despite a growing weariness due to persistent challenges, there’s a heightened opportunity for collaboration across industries. With 32% of respondents looking to governments and 42% to travel service providers for solutions, there’s a clear call for collective action to address feelings of powerlessness among travelers.

In 2023, Kate Heiny, VP of Sustainability for Booking Holdings, the parent company of Booking.com shared, “Booking Holdings brands have an enormous opportunity to meet that demand for more sustainable travel options by innovating to surface information in a transparent, consistent, and easy-to-understand way to customers and working with partners to improve the supply of sustainable options. […] By taking important steps to make sustainable travel easier for both travelers and accommodation providers alike, we’re working to unlock key barriers and make sustainable travel the way to travel.”

Navigating Disillusionment and Intentions

Despite growing disillusionment, 74% of those surveyed desire to embrace sustainable travel in the next 12 months. They are motivated by a sense of responsibility to align their travel choices with their values. However, barriers such as the perceived irreversibility of damage and skepticism toward climate change hinder progress.

Travelers envision a shared responsibility in mitigating the negative impacts of travel, with expectations of collaboration among stakeholders. While 75% desire to leave destinations better than they found them, expectations regarding who should take the lead in addressing social, economic, and environmental impacts vary. There’s also a growing demand for transparent certification standards and more precise communication to facilitate sustainable decision-making.

Embracing Sustainable Silver Linings

59% of travelers believe they are their best selves when traveling sustainably, and 67% are inspired to adopt sustainable practices daily. Activities such as authentic local experiences, supporting small businesses, and using eco-friendly transport resonate positively with travelers.

Danielle D’Silva, Head of Sustainability at Booking.com, underscores the need for accelerated efforts to make sustainable choices accessible and understandable. She emphasizes the importance of clear communication, consistent standards, and credible certification as crucial enablers for progress. While consumer frustration signals a need for action, it also serves as a reminder of the impactful work needed to create a more sustainable travel industry for travelers, communities, and destinations worldwide.

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