Travellers and holidaymakers increasingly recognise the need to travel more sustainably

Travellers and holidaymakers increasingly recognise the need to travel more sustainably

As the G7 meeting opens in Cornwall with Covid and climate change on the agenda, we can expect President Biden to remind us once again that this is the “decisive decade” for tackling climate change. “Scientists tell us that this is the decisive decade – this is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis… The need for action is increasingly urgent. The longer we procrastinate the more damage we shall do and the greater the cost. more

At a time when so many travel, tourism and hospitality businesses face their own existential challenge taking responsibility for making our sector more sustainable, playing our part in tackling Covid, climate change, biodiversity loss, and mounting inequality is a big ask. But as President Biden and so many others have argued, this is the decisive decade. The longer we procrastinate and delay, the greater the cost to the environment, social stability, and the bottom line.  To quote Primo Levi, if not now, when?

.As long as emissions are added to our atmosphere faster than they are removed, then concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increase, and climate change worsens.  Collectively the research scientists Dyke, Watson and Knorr have spent more than 80 years thinking about climate change.  “… the idea of net-zero has licensed a recklessly cavalier “burn now, pay later” approach which has seen carbon emissions continue to soar.”

They warn: “Current net-zero policies will not keep warming to within 1.5°C because they were never intended to. They were and still are driven by a need to protect business as usual, not the climate. If we want to keep people safe then large and sustained cuts to carbon emissions need to happen now. That is the very simple acid test that must be applied to all climate policies. The time for wishful thinking is over.” more

Consumer opinion is shifting – travellers and holidaymakers aspire to travel more sustainably. There is now a wealth of evidence that cosnumers want to see change. Our industry takes consumer aspiration about destinations seriously; we should take their sustainability aspirations seriously too.’s latest report is entitled: Impact awakening: the rise of responsible travel commissioned research conducted among a sample of adults who had travelled for business or leisure in the previous 12 months, and who were planning to travel in the next 12 months (if/once travel restrictions were lifted). In total, 20,934 respondents across 28 countries were polled in July 2020. 53% said that they were looking for more sustainable ways to travel, to avoid travelling during peak season (51%), overcrowding (48%) and overly busy tourist attractions (63%). More than half (53%) of global travellers said that they were willing to reduce their waste and recycle their plastic when travelling.  Agreement with the statement, I want to travel more sustainably because COVID-19 has opened my eyes to humans’ impact on the environment, ranged from 74% in Colombia to 27% in the Netherlands. Agreement with I expect the travel industry to offer more sustainable travel options, ranged from 86% in Colombia to 47% in Denmark.

The Boston Consulting Group surveyed more than 3,000 people across eight countries in May 2020 and found that in the wake of the pandemic, people were more, not less, concerned about the environmental challenges and reported that they were more committed to changing their own behaviour to advance sustainability.  70% of respondents said they were more aware now than before COVID-19 that human activity threatens the climate and that degradation of the environment, in turn, threatens humans. More than two-thirds of respondents think that economic recovery plans should make environmental issues a priority. 40% reported that they intended to adopt more sustainable practices in the future.

IBM surveyed 14,000 consumers in nine countries. Not surprisingly, the survey found significant variations between countries, only 51 per cent of US consumers surveyed said addressing climate change was very, or extremely important to them, compared to 73 per cent of respondents from all other countries. On average 54 per cent of the consumers, IBM surveyed, said that they were willing to pay a premium for sustainable and/or environmentally responsible brands.

August 2020 “new and evolving consumer segments to understand the changes people have undergone and the values they now hold.” Accenture

It may be objected that this market research measures and reports aspiration – upon which the respondents may not act. However, aspiration is a major element in most purchases. Most decisions about travel and the purchase of travel services are based on motivation (activity, destination or experience), opportunity (a function of available leisure time and cost) and a range of other factors which will include quality, safety, the experience of and confidence in the provider and what might broadly be considered as ethical considerations. T The primary factors are motivation and opportunity, but, given the range of providers offering similar products at similar prices, the tie-breaker may be one of the ethical considerations, and particularly if these affect the quality and depth of the tourist experience.


WTM, as part of its  Platform for Change launching on 28 June, has published Time for Effective Action to Remove Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Aviation.

Please insert this video link re Awards

Nominations for the Responsible Tourism awards are now open, and this time they’re global. They’re free to enter, and the deadline is August 31st 2021. Categories:

  • Decarbonising Travel & Tourism,
  • Sustaining Employees and Communities through the Pandemic,
  • Destinations Building Back Better Post-COVID,
  • Increasing Diversity in Tourism: How inclusive is our industry?
  • Reducing Plastic Waste in the Environment and
  • Growing the Local Economic Benefit.




Harold is WTM’s Responsible Tourism Advisor, he puts together the flagship Responsible Tourism programme at WTM London which attracted 4000 participants in 2020 and the programmes run at WTM Africa, WTM Latin America and Arabian Travel Market. Harold has worked on 4 continents with local communities, their governments and the inbound and outbound tourism industry. He is Managing Director of the Responsible Tourism Partnership and chairs the panels of judges for the World Responsible Tourism Awards and the other Awards in the family, Africa, India and Latin America. Harold works with industry, local communities, governments, and conservationists and undertakes consultancy and evaluations for companies, NGOs, governments, and international organisations. He is also a Director of the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he is an Emeritus Professor, and Founder Director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism promotes the principles of the Cape Town Declaration which he drafted.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *