Booking.com’s 2021 Sustainable Travel Report Indicates Potential Watershed Moment for Industry and Consumers
Latest research from Booking.com reveals how the ‘pandemic effect’ could finally tip sustainable travel intent into impactful action
- Nearly three quarters (72%) of UK travellers think sustainable travel is vital, with 43% saying the pandemic has made them want to travel more sustainably in the future
- 64% of travellers say they want to stay in a sustainable accommodation in the upcoming year
- 58% admit they get annoyed if somewhere they are staying stops them from being sustainable, for example by not providing recycling facilities
- To help boost the visibility of more sustainable stay options, Booking.com now shows third-party sustainability certifications and details on the range of impactful practices in place, at hundreds of thousands of properties around the world
LONDON, 3 JUNE 2021 - New research released today from Booking.com, containing insights gathered from more than 29,000 travellers across 30 countries, suggests that the pandemic has been the tipping point for travellers to finally commit to their own sustainable journey, with 70% of UK travellers believing people have to act now to save the planet for future generations.
As the world of travel starts to open up again, Booking.com’s 2021 Sustainable Travel Report reveals that UK travellers are more committed than ever to do so in a mindful way, with 43% stating that the pandemic has influenced them to want to travel more sustainably in the future. Further to this, over half (55%) admit that the pandemic has shifted their attitude to make positive changes in their everyday lives, with recycling (52%) and reducing food waste (49%) being the top priorities at home.
According to the findings, UK travellers’ day-to-day sustainable commitments are consistent with their intentions for future trips:
- 85% want to reduce general waste
- 83% want to reduce their energy consumption (e.g. by turning off air conditioning and lights when they are not in a room)
- 80% want to use more environmentally friendly modes of transport such as walking, cycling or public transport over taxis or rental cars.
- 74% will go as far as avoiding popular destinations and attractions to ensure they aren’t contributing to overcrowding challenges and to help do their part to disperse the positive benefits of travel to less frequently visited destinations and communities
Breaking down sustainable travel barriers
Fortunately, it’s not just good intentions, with many UK travellers revealing these sustainable pledges have actually come to fruition in the past 12 months:
- 34% made a conscious decision to turn off their air conditioning/heater in their accommodation when they weren’t there
- 36% took their own reusable water bottle, rather than buying bottled water while on holiday
- 27% did activities to support the local community
Interestingly, over half (58%) admit that they get annoyed if somewhere they are staying stops them from being sustainable – for example by not offering recycling facilities.
However, while 64% of UK travellers say they want to stay in a sustainable accommodation in the upcoming year - which is a notable increase from 44% in 2016 and 50% in 2020, just prior to the pandemic - barriers still remain. Over half (51%) of UK travellers said they have not stayed in a sustainable property in the past year, 32% said they didn’t even know that they existed, 33% said they couldn’t find any options where they were travelling and 27% said that they didn’t know how to find them. In fact, 55% of UK travellers still believe that in 2021, there simply aren’t enough sustainable travel options available.
In terms of awareness and intentions, UK travellers and properties do appear to be on the same page, with new research revealing that 82%** of Booking.com's accommodation partners surveyed view sustainability in the hospitality industry as being important. This mirrors the 72% of travellers who also believe sustainable travel is an important issue. However, although 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, with this mostly happening at the time of check-in (59%**), indicating that significant challenges remain to making sustainability information easy to access for travellers at earlier stages of the booking process.
Closing the gap, step by step
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.
“Over the six years we’ve been conducting this research, it’s been inspiring to see awareness of the importance of sustainable travel consistently grow, both with our customers and now with our partners, too,” said Marianne Gybels, Director of Sustainability for Booking.com. “The good intentions are there on all sides, but there is still a lot of work to be done to make sustainable travel an easy choice for everyone. 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 travellers and properties around the world, these small steps all start to add up to a much bigger potential positive impact.”
To download Booking.com’s full 2021 Sustainable Travel Report, please visit the Booking.com global media room.
For further information, contact the Booking.com UK Press Office;
*Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 29,349 respondents across 30 countries and territories (1,000 from USA, 1,007 from Canada, 1,000 from Mexico, 964 from Colombia, 1,000 from Brazil, 1,000 from Argentina, 999 from Australia, 941 from New Zealand, 1,001 from Spain, 1,000 from Italy, 1,000 from France, 1,000 from UK, 1,000 from Germany, 1,003 from Netherlands, 986 from Denmark, 1,000 from Sweden, 997 from Croatia, 1,005 from Russia, 1,003 from Israel, 1,000 from India, 1,000 from China, 1,005 from Hong Kong, 968 from Thailand, 963 from Singapore, 1,000 from Taiwan, 1,005 from Vietnam, 1,000 from South Korea, 1,000 from Japan, 1,002 from South Africa and 500 from Kenya ). In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have travelled at least once in the past 12 months and must be planning to travel in 2021, and be either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey was taken online and took place in March 2021.
**Research conducted by Booking.com with a representative sample of 3,390 accommodation providers from Australia, Austria, Brazil, China, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States. The survey was taken online and took place in April 2021.