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The trends shaping sustainable travel in 2022

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In celebration of Earth Day, we’re revealing what sustainable travellers want in 2022 based on recent Booking.com research

For many global travellers, the impact of their trips remains top of mind. According to Booking.com's 2022 Sustainable Travel report, almost three-quarters (71%) expressed a desire to travel more sustainably over the coming 12 months – up 10% on our 2021 report. Two-thirds (66%) want to have experiences that are representative of the local culture, and a further 59% aim to leave the places they visit better than when they arrived. Half of all respondents (50%) cited that recent news about climate change has influenced them to make more sustainable travel choices. 

An encouraging 46% of global travellers say they have stayed in a sustainable accommodation over the past year. Of those, 41% said they chose a sustainable stay to help reduce their impact on the environment, a third (33%) wanted to have a more locally-relevant experience and 31% believe sustainable properties treat the community better. 

There is also consensus among travellers on wanting to avoid busy and over-visited destinations, with a third (33%) saying that they chose to travel outside of peak season and over a quarter (27%) choosing to go to a less popular travel destination over the last 12 months to avoid overcrowding. When thinking about future trips, 40% said they’d be willing to exclusively travel outside of peak season to avoid overcrowding, and 64% revealed that they would avoid popular tourist destinations and attractions to ensure a more even dispersal of the impact and benefits of their visit. Almost a third (31%) would even be willing to choose an alternative to their preferred destination to help avoid overcrowding.

Meeting those needs to capture demand 

As momentum gains on positive intent, so too does the opportunity for the industry to further efforts in building and communicating more sustainable travel experiences. While awareness and visibility of more sustainable stays are increasing, with 40% of global travellers confirming they have seen a sustainable accommodation on an online travel site over the past year, there is still more to be done to make sustainable stay options easier to find for everyone. 

Of those travellers who didn’t stay in a sustainable accommodation over the past year, 31% said they didn’t know they existed and 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. This further underlines the importance of making this sustainability information transparent and understandable for a broad audience of travellers. 

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With 78% of global travellers intending to stay in a sustainable property at least once in the coming year, the potential to bridge the gap between those already in the know and those still struggling to find the right options is huge. What’s more, over a third (35%) of global travellers say that the sustainability efforts of accommodations and transport providers play a strong role in their property and transport decisions respectively, with a compelling 70% of respondents saying they would be more likely to choose a sustainable accommodation – whether they were looking specifically for one or not. 

“Seeing global travellers further engage with sustainable travel and showing increasing intent to make a positive impact while they experience the world is hugely encouraging – but it’s just the start,” says Danielle D’Silva, Head of Sustainability at Booking.com. “We recognise the integral role our partners play in this change, and investing in the right products and programmes that help them communicate their efforts to an increasingly captive and mindful traveller audience is of critical importance. Together we can move forward on this journey, turning positive intent into more sustainable travel experiences that will drive meaningful change.” 

Travel Sustainable 

To help travellers make more sustainable choices while empowering properties already making great strides in their sustainability journey, we launched the Travel Sustainable badge in November 2021. A first-of-its-kind solution, the badge breaks new ground by acknowledging and communicating the sustainability efforts of properties around the world – with 99,000 accommodations globally already recognised to date. Focusing on practices that have been selected for their accessibility, simplicity and high impact potential, and verified by independent industry bodies such as global sustainable tourism initiative Travalyst, the badge has been designed as a universal tool to suit the needs of all properties – from an apartment in Amsterdam to a homestay in India to a resort along the Gold Coast in Australia. 

In addition to the 32 sustainable practices recorded and analysed to inform badge attainment, we’ve further expanded the number of third-party certifications and labels that automatically qualify accommodations to receive the badge. In addition to those officially approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), Green Tourism, and the EU Ecolabel, this now also includes Green Seal, Nordic Swan Ecolabel, Green Hospitality Ecolabel, Ibex Fairstay, Fair Trade Tourism, LEED and Edge. 


The Travel Sustainable badge is also supported by a programme of educational components, designed to help you identify and pursue measurable actions that will help lower your environmental impact and increase your social impact on the world. From tips on setting an environmental baseline through to tactical advice on topics such as reducing water and energy consumption, our Travel Sustainable handbook is designed to support you on your sustainability journey, whatever stage you may be at.

 

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Takeaway
  • Almost three-quarters (71%) of global travellers expressed a desire to travel more sustainably over the coming 12 months – up 10% on our 2021 report 
  • 70% of global travellers say they would be more likely to choose a sustainable accommodation – whether they were looking specifically for one or not 
  • 78% of global travellers intend to stay in a sustainable property at least once in the coming year
  • Partners can tap into this demand by communicating their sustainability practices to customers via the extranet