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Agoda’s Sustainable Travel Trends Survey 2021
Agoda Sustainable Travel Trends Survey Reveals Traveler’s Top Concerns About Tourism’s Impact, and Measures to Make Travel More Sustainable
• 26% of global travelers consider Governments most accountable for making positive environmental changes around travel, followed by tourism authorities (23%) and individuals themselves (20%)
• Top pledges to travel more responsibly were #1 manage waste, including using less single-use plastic, #2 switch off lights and air conditioner and #3 always look for eco-friendly accommodation
• The practices most associated with sustainable travel are #1 renewable energy and resources, such as solar, wind, hydroelectric and water, #2 no single-use plastic, followed by both animal conservation and creating a smaller carbon footprint as #3
According to Agoda’s Sustainable Travel Trends Survey 2021, easy identification of eco-friendly travel options, limited use of single-use plastics, and financial incentives for accommodation providers who maximize energy efficiencies are the top three additional measures needed to make travel more sustainable. Establishing more protected areas to limit tourist numbers and removal of single-use bathroom amenities round out the top five global measures.
The findings suggest that overtourism and pollution of beaches and waterways are the top two concerns of the impact of tourism, with deforestation and energy inefficiencies (including overconsumption of electricity and water) ranking third.
Governments Considered Most Responsible to Make Travel More Sustainable
Globally, the public considers Governments most accountable for making positive environmental changes around travel, followed by tourism authorities (23%) and individuals themselves (20%). When it came to holding governments most accountable, those in Indonesia and UK were most likely to do so (36%). China followed not too far behind at 33%, with Australia and Malaysia in fourth and fifth place at 28% and 27% respectively. The markets most likely to cite themselves or individuals as most responsible for making changes to traveling sustainably were Thailand (30%), Japan (29%) and the US (28%).
Pledges to Travel More Sustainably
When asked what travelers would pledge to do better in a post-COVID scenario, the top responses were:
Manage my waste during my travel period (e.g., use less single-use plastic)
Switch off the air conditioner and lights when I leave my room
Always look for eco-friendly accommodation
Manage my carbon footprint (e.g., taking most journeys by bus, train or boat, or paying for carbon offset)
Do my part to reuse hotel amenities, such as towels and bedding
Shop local/choose independent businesses
Going to lesser-known destinations
Pick up litter when I visit the beach
Request for no toiletries in the room as I can bring my own
Use reef-friendly products on beach trips
No ‘One Size Fits All’ for Sustainability
The practices most associated with sustainable travel are #1 renewable energy and resources, such as solar, wind, hydroelectric and water, #2 no single-use plastic, and joint number #3 animal conservation and creating a smaller carbon footprint.
Energy-saving solutions, such as key cards, motion sensors, and using natural cleaning products, are the other key practices. Interestingly, buying locally sourced products, reusing bedding or towels during holiday stays, and visiting off-the-beaten-track destinations are the bottom three practices out of the top 10 associated with sustainable travel.
“While there are different interpretations of what practices are eco-friendly or sustainable, most of the public are keen to be able to do their part, by actively pledging to choose eco-friendly properties or make smarter environmental choices when traveling. One of the easiest ways to counter concerns about overtourism is to consider traveling to off-the-beaten-track destinations. This past year at Agoda, we have seen a shift in travel patterns as people, limited to domestic travel, explore lesser-known areas. If managed well, not only does this help support independent hoteliers and accommodation providers that rely economically on the tourist dollar, it can help lessen the environmental burden on overcrowded areas.”
“As an industry, we need to continue to find ways to help individuals achieve these goals be it making it easier to search and find sustainable properties on Agoda or supporting and encouraging more partners to use key cards for power, use renewable energy sources or offering carbon-offsetting options for travel products.” – John Brown, CEO Agoda
All topics raised in Agoda’s Sustainable Travel Trends Survey 2021 are covered in the GSTC Industry Criteria and suggested indicators for hotels.
The GSTC Industry Criteria is widely used by hotels and other types of accommodations. The GSTC Criteria have been built on decades of prior work and experience around the world, and they take into account the numerous guidelines and standards for sustainable tourism from every continent. During the process of development, they were widely consulted throughout the globe, in both developed and developing countries, in several languages. They reflect our goal in attaining a global consensus on sustainable tourism.