RTP Logo
Responsible Tourism Partnership
Responsible Tourism by Harold Goodwin
RT Main Menu
RT Resources

If you'd like to know when new newsletters are published
please register here to receive notifications

The Market for RT

June 1, 2023
Harold Goodwin
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Booking.com's 2023 Report 

The 2023 report gathered insights from over 33,000 travellers across 35 countries and territories, revealing a dilemma where people feel potentially forced to choose between cutting costs and making more sustainable travel choices. Glenn Fogel CEO of Booking.com ": "While travel may be back, rising living costs and climate anxiety has led to greater demand for more budget and planet-friendly options." 49% think the environment will get worse in the next six months, 64% believe the cost of living crisis will also get worse. More than three-quarters (76%) of travellers say they want to travel more sustainably, but the rising cost of living is impacting their spending plans. People are squeezed between their aspiration to travel more sustainably and the cost.

Nearly half (49%) want discounts and economic incentives in order to opt for eco-friendly options (up 12% from 2022), while 42% would be encouraged to travel more sustainably with reward points for making more sustainable choices that they could use for free extra perks or discounts through online travel booking sites.

Booking.com's 2022 report reveals  a 10% increase in demand for sustainable product over 2o21 

● 81% of travelers confirm that sustainable travel is important to them, with 50% saying that recent news about climate change has influenced them to make more sustainable travel choices

● 59% of travelers say they want to leave the places they visit better than when they arrived, with 33% revealing that they chose to travel outside of peak season to avoid overcrowding

● Nearly a quarter (23%) say they opted to travel to a destination closer to home over the last 12 months to reduce their carbon footprint

● More than 100,000 properties globally are now being recognized for their sustainability efforts with a Travel Sustainable badge on Booking.com

"With insights gathered from more than 30,000 travelers across 32 countries and territories, highlighting that the impact of their trips remains top of mind, with 71% of global travelers saying that they want to travel more sustainably over the coming 12 months, which is a 10% increase over what was surfaced through the company’s 2021 data. With 81% of travelers confirming that sustainable travel is important to them, half of all respondents (50%) cited that recent news about climate change has influenced them to make more sustainable travel choices. To that end, over a third (35%) of global travelers say that the sustainability efforts of accommodations and transport providers play a strong role in their property and transport decisions respectively. In fact, 70% of global travelers say they would be more likely to choose a sustainable accommodation - whether they were looking specifically for one or not."

"Awareness and visibility of more sustainable stays continues, with 40% of global travelers confirming they have seen a sustainable accommodation on an online travel site over the past year and 38% indicating that they actively look for information on the sustainability efforts of a property before they book. Even more encouraging are the 46% of global travelers who say they have actually stayed in a sustainable accommodation over the past year. Of those who have experienced a more sustainable stay in the past 12 months, the reasons for selecting one vary:

● 41% said they chose it to help reduce their impact on the environment

● A third (33%) wanted to have a more locally relevant experience

● 31% believe sustainable properties treat the community better

While 78% of global travelers intend to stay in a sustainable property at least once in the coming year, there is still more to do to make more sustainable stay options easier to find for everyone. Of those who didn’t stay in a sustainable accommodation over the past year, 31% said they didn’t know they existed. While this is down 5% from 2021, indicating that awareness is growing, nearly one in three (29%) said they still didn’t know how to find them. More than half (56%) admit that they don’t actively look for the sustainability efforts of a property before they book, but if easily accessible, they say they will review it, which further underlines the importance of making this sustainability information transparent and understandable for a broad audience of travelers."

There is much more detail in the press release  The full report is available here 

Booking.com is also taking responsibility. "For more details on Booking Holdings’ Climate Action Plan and to view and download the Company’s third annual Sustainability Report, detailing initiatives throughout 2021 to engage responsibly with the world, drive long-term societal value and promote a more sustainable travel industry, please visit: bookingholdings.com/sustainability.


Booking.com's 2021 reveals how the ‘pandemic effect’ could finally tip sustainable travel intent into impactful action

  • 83% of global travellers think sustainable travel is vital, with 61% saying the pandemic has made them want to travel more sustainably in the future
  • Almost half (49%) still believe that in 2021, there aren’t enough sustainable travel options available, with 53% admitting they get annoyed if somewhere they are staying stops them from being sustainable, for example by not providing recycling facilities
  • While 3 out of 4 accommodation providers say they have implemented at least some kind of sustainability practices at their property, only one-third actively communicate about their efforts proactively to potential guests

To help boost the visibility of more sustainable stay options, Booking.com is now showing third-party sustainability certifications and details on a range of 30+ impactful practices in place at hundreds of thousands of properties around the world, Press release  Full Report 

Booking.com's 2020 report  was entitled: Impact awakening: the rise of responsible travel
Booking.com 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 [2]

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.[3]

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

Caroline Bremner of Euromonitor on Sustainable Destinations 

Back at the beginning of the century we were more actively engaged in researching the demand side. Most in the industry now accept that the sustainability of the product, and the degree of responsibility exercised by those providing the package or the different elements of the holiday or trip, influence consumer choice.

2017 - major report by Booking.com on consumer demand for more sustainable tourism
"Even though only 5% of global travellers actually believe it is easy to travel sustainably, 46% of globally travellers consider themselves a sustainable traveller, with Italy, Germany and China seeing a rise in those identifying this way since last year but in markets like Australia, Brazil, Japan and the US there has been a fall (down 5%, 8%, 4% and 4% respectively). For  an overview of the top green/eco-friendly practices that global travellers are taking into account when considering a property to stay in read more


TUI has concluded, in its 2016 Better Holidays, Better World Report, published in March 2017, that more sustainable holidays are moving into the mainstream. 

  • TUI Customers in the past year have gone on 6.3 million ‘greener and fairer’ holidays, i.e. staying in 1170 hotels that have been certified to a recognised Global Sustainable Tourism Council standard.
  • In 2016, TUI funding raised for research initiatives, charity, and destination projects reached €6.6 million, and TUI Care Foundation has launched as a group-wide means for supporting destination initiatives.In 2016 our Customers participated in 846 000 TUI Collection excursions, up 30% on 2015.  These are local and unique excursions selected against sustainability criteria.
  • In addition, the hard data Customer research that we conducted globally, with over 3000 participants, confirmed that sustainability can be a deciding factor in their holiday choices but that customers want more information when it comes to booking.

There is a discussion of the emergence of Responsible Tourism in the UK in Taking Responsibility for Tourism (Goodwin H 2011)

It is not surprising that a good hotel, an affordable price and good weather (this was a survey of British holidaymakers) were of the highest importance. However, the surprise was that the provision of good local information, a significant opportunity for interaction with local people and a trip was designed to cause limited environmental damage, were all rated as more important than whether the respondent had travelled with the company before. This group of holidaymakers is particularly important to a tour operator since the recruitment cost is low. Moreover, less than 5% of respondents reported in each case that these issues were of no importance to them.

A majority of consumers felt that it was the industry’s responsibility to provide them with more information about the people and places they were going to visit. Clearly, they saw the local people and their place as part of the experience they were purchasing. Perhaps most remarkably, 61% responded that it was important to them that the company had ‘ethical policies’; 27% of the sample said that it was of high importance to them. This was commercially sensitive market research: the point was not lost on the operators.

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, experience of and confidence in the provider and what might broadly be considered as ethical considerations. These are evident in the Tearfund research. 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." (Goodwin H 2011 pp58-59)

"The Tearfund/Ipsos-RSL research, in 1999 included the question ‘Would you be more likely to book a holiday with a company if they had a written code to guarantee good working conditions, protect the environment and support local charities in destinations?’ – 45% said yes, 13% said no and 42% said that it would make no difference. In 2001, the research was repeated, with the identical question asked by the same company, to a similar sample – 52% replied positively, an increase of 7% in two years.60 The research has not been repeated because it has become unnecessary."  (Goodwin H 2011 pp61-62)

There is little recent published research because it is now broadly accepted in the UK industry that sustainability is, for a significant majority of travellers, assumed; and that the industry must respond.

There is also a paucity of comparative research on the importance of sustainability in different source markets. The Canadian Tourism Commission undertook a major study of their source markets published in 1999.

"Research conducted by the Canadian Tourism Commission included for the first time in 2009 a standard question in large surveys of its 10 major source markets. They asked whether or not the interviewee agreed with the statement “I always take environmentally friendly tourism considerations into account when making a decision about where to travel to”. Accepting that this only records self-ascribed aspiration there are significant differences between representative samples in Canadian source markets – 88% of Mexicans, 68% of Chinese, 60% of Koreans and 56% of the French ascribe to this view of their decision making about holidays, compared with 33% of the Germans and Japanese, 31% of Americans, 30% of Canadians and 28% of Australians. The British came bottom: only 23% responded that they always take environmentally friendly characteristics into account when making destination choices. Responsible Tourism has been successful in the originating market which, amongst these eight markets, is the least predisposed to choose environmentally friendly options. Many will be tempted to dismiss the British experience as unrepresentative, but on the Canadian evidence, there are originating markets which look significantly more propitious for this approach. (Canadian Tourism Commission (2009))" Goodwin H (2016) Responsible Tourism Goodfellow pp.60-61

A survey by Booking.com of a minimum of 1,000 respondents who had travelled in 2016, and planned to travel in 2017, in each of 11 source markets reported that

  • 68% confirm they are more likely to consider choosing an accommodation knowing that it was eco-friendly, with Chinese (93%), Brazilian (83%) and Spanish (80%) travellers the most likely. For a large 79%, sustainable considerations also impact their mode of transport when travelling, with 43% taking public transport whenever possible, 42% trying to walk, bike or hike as much as possible and nearly one-fifth (18%) flying less to reduce their carbon footprint. 64% said they would pay more for local food in their hotels, and 68% said that they were more likely to consider accommodation if it’s eco-friendly
  • 94% were willing to stay in a luxury property with energy saving light bulbs, 89% in one with AC/Heating units that only run while you’re in the room and 80% in one with low flow showerheads. Luxury adjustments that they said they were willing to make to sat somewhere eco-friendly:
    • energy saving light bulbs 95%
    • AC/Heating units that only run while you are in the room 89%
    • low flow shower heads 80%
    • recycled toilet paper 79%
    • less frequent toiletry replacement  79%
    • linen and towel changes less frequently 75%
    • higher costs fo locally produced food 64%
  • The reasons given for choosing eco-friendly accommodations included helping to reduce environmental impact (52%); providing  a more locally relevant experience (36%) and "they treat the local community better" (31%)





© 2024 The Responsible Tourism Partnership 
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram