Travel Industry Sustainability: How To Cater To Eco-Conscious Travellers
Sustainability is a growing concern for consumers. Individuals are increasingly voting with their wallets, prioritising products and services that are eco-friendly. For example, nearly 60 per cent of travellers have chosen sustainable options within the last few years, and that number is expected to rise in 2023. The pandemic also got travellers thinking about their environmental impact. One study found that as many as 61 per cent of travellers want to choose more sustainable travel options because of the pandemic. Sustainable tourism is no longer a niche market in 2023—it’s becoming a mainstream requirement.
Why Travellers Choose Sustainable Options
So, why are travellers choosing sustainable travel options?
First and foremost, there is a growing awareness of the impact of tourism on the planet. The United Nations Environmental Program found that, in a ‘business as usual’ scenario, tourism would generate an increase of 154% in energy consumption, 131% in greenhouse gas emissions, 152% in water consumption and 251% in solid waste disposal by 2050. Travellers are aware of the negative impact travel and tourism have on the planet, and, as a result, they’ve become more conscious of their carbon footprint.
But that’s not the only reason travellers are increasingly favouring sustainable options. Sustainable travel also allows travellers to support local communities and economies. For example, some of the most sustainable travel options include staying in locally-owned accommodations, eating in restaurants run by locals, and participating in activities with the local community.
What Does This Mean For Travel Providers?
The travel industry has long been aware of its impact on the environment. Consequently, most airlines, hotels, transport providers, tour operators, and other travel companies are taking steps to reduce their negative impact on the environment by engaging in sustainable practices. So, how exactly can travel providers embrace sustainable practices?
Provide sustainable travel options
One of the best ways for travel companies to become more sustainable is to offer their customers sustainable travel options. What this option entails will, of course, vary by company. For example, tour operators may decide to offer sustainable travel experiences that prioritise environmental conservation, cultural preservation and social responsibility. They may also change transportation options and promote tours that involve walking and biking. The industry will likely see a rise in regenerative travel experiences, something I discussed in a previous article.
Reduce carbon emissions
Travel companies can also take steps to decarbonise operations. This involves identifying and actioning decarbonisation initiatives such as using renewable energy, offering sustainable food options, eco-friendly transport and carbon offsetting schemes. It’s reassuring to see that dozens of prominent travel companies have taken steps to reduce their carbon emissions, such as British Airways, MGM Resorts International and Oceania Cruises.
Support local communities
Travel providers planning to prioritise sustainability should also do all they can to support local communities. They can do this by promoting or partnering with locally-owned accommodations, restaurants and businesses to put their services in front of travellers.
Communicate sustainability initiatives to travellers
Travel providers should also clearly communicate their sustainability initiatives to travellers. More than ever, travellers want travel companies to be authentic and transparent when it comes to sustainability—they won’t accept greenwashing. Travel companies must prove to customers that they truly care about sustainable travel rather than simply using it as a buzzword to capture attention.
Sustainable travel is no longer a niche market. Travellers are becoming more aware of their impact on the environment and are choosing sustainable travel options to reduce their negative impact. To meet consumer demand, travel companies need to adapt to this preference shift by providing sustainable travel options, supporting local communities and engaging in sustainable practices in their day-to-day operations.