Leading digital travel company Booking.com recently released its ‘Sustainable Travel Report 2023’. According to the report, Indian travellers are more open integrating sustainable thinking into their vacation planning than before.
The company’s 8th annual Sustainable Travel Report, which gathered insights from over 33,000 travellers across 35 countries and territories, highlights a dilemma where people often feel forced to choose between cutting costs and making sustainable travel choices. While some people have the perception that sustainable travel options are too expensive, there are others who are willing to pay more for the same.
Sustainable travel behaviour
It has been observed that despite financial barriers there is a demand for sustainable options among travellers. On a micro level, the responsible traveller is showing sustainable travel behaviours such as turning off lights and air conditioners when not in use and reusing their towels and water bottles. Travellers are also opting for sustainable transport and shopping local from small, independent stores.
At a macro level, sustainable trends point to an increase in purposeful travel in 2023, with travellers finding more meaningful ways to spend their money. They are carving out regenerative experiences that positively impact destinations with benefits to wildlife, conservation and the local community, and engaging in local philanthropy.
Need to act now
In the survey conducted by the company, 74% participants believe in the necessity to act now in making more sustainable travel choices in order to save the planet. At least 80 % travellers emphasised on the importance of sustainable travel with residents of India, Philippines, Kenya and Vietnam leading the way.
Looking for incentives
With an increasing number of travelers feeling the pinch, they are seeking more sustainable travel options rich in rewards, with the need for incentivisation. At least 49% travellers want discounts and economic incentives to opt for eco-friendly options while 42% people would be encouraged to travel sustainably with reward points for making more sustainable choices.
Looking for options
It has been observed in the study that that at least 65% travellers would feel better about staying in a particular accommodation if they knew it had a sustainable certification or label. However, while 74% travellers want travel companies to offer more sustainable travel choices, 51% believe there are not enough sustainable travel options and 44% of travellers don’t know where to find more sustainable options.
While 75% travellers seek authentic experiences that are representative of the local culture, 40% don’t know how or where to find tours and activities that will ensure they give back to the local community.
Sustainable steps taken at home
Not only sustainable travel behaviour, the respondents have also spoken about their eco-friendly steps taken at home. These include opting for reusable shopping bags and water bottles, recycling waste, refusing single plastic, opting for public transport or bicycle over car, buying local, eating plant-based or vegetarian diet.
Trend among Indian travellers
The study found that a majority of Indian travellers believe that by conserving resources now and being more sustainable, one can help save the planet. In a bid to save water, 55% travellers reuse their towels multiple times, with an aim to reduce, reuse and recycle, 57% brought their own reusable water bottles, while 52% individuals are utilising reusable bags, 44% practise recycling garbage while travelling.
Indians are taking several sustainability-related actions as their environmental consciousness grows. Taking conscious habits from home when travelling, 66% now turn off their air-conditioning when not in use. Indian travellers are moving towards sustainable travel practices and are becoming more selective when deciding their accommodations and modes of transportation primarily due to the worsening effects of climate change and growing environmental awareness.
Talking about transportation, 51% of Indian travellers now plan their sightseeing so that they can walk, use bicycles or take public transportation, which is essential for ecotourism. Additionally, taking the ‘buy local’ ideology is also a popular mantra among travellers.
Nearly 44% of Indian travellers are asking for discounts and financial incentives to choose eco-friendly options. Additionally, it has been found that 53% of people would be motivated to travel more sustainably if they were given reward points for selecting sustainable options.
Goal of being net-zero by 2040
“Our ambition is to create a more sustainable business, as well as contribute to a more sustainable travel industry. This will take time, cooperation and systemic changes. With regards to our own business, in 2022 we set out our ambition to be net-zero by 2040 as part of our Climate Action Plan, aligning our emission reduction roadmap to the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI). As such, our aim is to achieve a 95% reduction in scope 1 and 2 emissions and a 50% reduction in scope 3 emissions by 2030 and to reach net-zero by 2040.
When it comes to our platform and the impact we are striving to have across the travel industry, our Travel Sustainable program now recognizes the sustainability efforts of more than 500,000 accommodations worldwide. We are encouraged by the number of our accommodation partners that are taking steps to operate more sustainably, but there is more work to be done to make it easier for travelers to find and book more sustainable options across the entire travel experience,” shared Glenn Fogel, CEO, Booking.com.
The report observes that as compared to even a year ago, awareness has increased among tourists worldwide with many opting for sustainable travel choices even at a higher cost. At the same time, tourists are taking eco-friendly steps like saving energy, reduce-resuse-recycle, refusing single use plastic and buying local while travelling and also at home. However, it has also been observed that in the present scenario many travellers are being forced to choose between cost-cutting and making sustainable travel choices.
‘While travellers recognise the critical nature of climate change, there is still some disconnect between impact and action. From limited data to a perceived lack of credible options, this report exposes barriers to travelling more sustainably and the huge strides travel providers need to make in order to gain their trust. Ultimately, building a truly sustainable industry will take time, but progress is underway to ensure that it’s becoming easier for everyone to experience the world in a more mindful and responsible way,’ says the report.