A report by Trip.com reveals that people are increasingly favouring sustainable travel, and the majority are open to paying more for it. Jenny Southan reports

According to the Sustainable Travel Consumer Report 2022 from the Trip.com Group, almost eight in ten travellers now recognise the importance of travelling more responsibly when it comes to the Earth and its environment.

The Covid-19 pandemic was, apparently, greatly responsible for this shift in attitude and a demonstration of this comes from the fact that about 67 per cent of travellers say they are open to paying more for sustainable options. About 38 per cent also said that travel restrictions enhanced their appreciation for nature.

Jane Sun, CEO of Trip.com Group, says: “The results reaffirm our vision to educate travellers better and provide a greater volume and variety of reliable, sustainable travel options. Our findings are a clarion call to ourselves as to our allies in the travel sector. In the future, we will join hands with partners, travellers and other stakeholders to venture towards a more sustainable world.”

Based on a survey of 7,705 respondents across 11 markets in Asia and Europe, the report reveals that the impact of travel has topped the list of reasons why travellers are increasingly drawn to sustainable travel.

Some 50 per cent of those surveyed said they care about the impact of travel on future generations (it’s somewhat disturbing that the other 50 per cent don’t care).

A third (27 per cent) cited its role in improving the travel experience, while 13 per cent perceived sustainable travel as “trendy”, and 8 per cent admitted to experiencing societal pressure to make more ethical travel choices.

What does sustainable travel look like? About a third (30 per cent) of respondents recognise it as supporting local businesses and livelihoods, and nearly half (43 per cent) believe respecting the culture and heritage of local destinations is also integral.

There are also cultural differences in how sustainble travel is perceived. Just over a fifth (21 per cent) of Europe-based respondents opted for sustainable travel because “it is trendy”, while less than a tenth (7 per cent) of Asian travellers took this view.

Those surveyed also differed in their attitudes towards paying a higher price for sustainable options, with 39 per cent of European travellers reluctant to pay extra for them, compared to just under a third (29.5 per cent) among their Asian counterparts.

However, despite the regional disparities, it’s clear from the report that more and more people have practised sustainable travel in multiple forms.

More than half (59 per cent) of respondents would pay for carbon offsetting to reduce the impact of their travel.

The main obstacle to travelling in a more sustainable way is a perceived lack of options. Travellers blame this on the difficulty of accessing information about sustainable travel products, with a third stating there is a lack of sustainable options and a quarter saying these are not clearly marked.

Half of them believe online travel agencies (OTAs) should clearly label sustainable options, followed by 42 per cent who called upon OTAs to make it easier to find these options, and 39 per cent who suggested OTAs should offer incentives.

While over two thirds of travellers are open to paying more to include sustainable options in their trips, they display varying levels of price sensitivity to the higher costs it usually entails

Only 10 per cent of them would be willing to pay over 10 per cent of the total price for a sustainable option.

Against this backdrop, OTA’s and booking platforms have a significant opportunity to tap into this by showcasing their sustainable travel credentials and endearing themselves to like-minded users.
The report shows that an overwhelming 93 per cent of respondents would consider booking via OTAs that provide sustainable options.