Our 2023 edition of the APAC Travel Confidence Index* surveyed markets in APAC to understand travelers' motivations and concerns. With a strong emphasis on sustainability due to the climate crisis, we explored attitudes toward more sustainable travel.
The survey covered 11 countries and territories, including Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam, with over 8,000 respondents in total. Here’s what we learned about traveler mindsets in the region and how businesses can meet their needs while becoming more sustainable.
Key findings on sustainability interest in APAC markets
Our report analyzed four primary survey metrics related to sustainability across APAC markets. While expenditure responses didn't always align with the importance markets placed on more sustainable travel, we can still draw some noteworthy conclusions.
Travelers from China, Hong Kong, India, and Vietnam demonstrated considerable interest in making more sustainable travel decisions. India ranked highest in rating the “importance of sustainable travel decisions” at 86%, closely followed by Vietnam at 80%. Additionally, both countries had the highest percentages of travelers willing to pay more for more sustainable accommodations, with Vietnam at 73% and India at 69%.
On the other hand, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and Singapore exhibited a lower interest in traveling more sustainably, with each of these respondents ranking the metric below 50% – Japan being the lowest at 29%. None of these countries reported “prioritizing sustainability over variety” at more than 31%, with Japan again having the lowest percentage at 19%.
As we dove deeper, our report honed in on individual markets, with tailored polls for each region. Key insights from these chapters include:
- India showed the highest interest in more sustainable efforts, with four out of five travelers likely to book properties taking measures to be more sustainable.
- “Sustainable measures” ranked as the second-lowest priority for Hong Kong travelers when choosing accommodations, out of nine metrics.
- Just 13% of New Zealanders expressed that concerns about climate change and travel's environmental footprint were a top issue impacting their future travel plans.
- Three in five travelers from Thailand indicated their interest in visiting a local destination that adopts more sustainable practices.
A closer look at key metrics and discrepancies
The four metrics polled were:
- Spending on sustainable travel
- Importance of sustainable travel decisions
- Paying more for sustainable accommodations
- Prioritizing sustainability over variety
There was an interesting discrepancy in the results – several of the markets that indicated they’d spend the same or more on traveling sustainably this year were the least willing to pay more for sustainable accommodations. These include Australia, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, and Singapore.
This discrepancy aligns with our wider sustainability research that shows travelers are struggling with balancing the desire to travel more sustainably and economic challenges like rising costs of living. Businesses in the industry—especially those welcoming a large number of visitors from these places—may find these results worth further investigation.
Travel personas and attitudes toward sustainability
Our survey revealed four distinct travel personas, based on differing priorities. This information can help you customize initiatives around sustainability according to your target customers. This compass graph explores the four personas as detailed below.
Mindful voyagers: Thoughtful and deliberate, these travelers want to protect the environment and help local communities. However, they can feel uncertain and overwhelmed in unfamiliar environments.
Conscious explorers: Sustainability is a top priority for these travelers, and they’re confident engaging in eco-tourism and with local communities.
Homebound pragmatists: Convenience is key for these travelers. They prefer travel experiences that are close to home, well organized, and efficient to make the most of their time.
Comfort seekers: Convenience also motivates this group of travelers, but through the lens of luxury. They seek indulgent experiences and personal attention and choose comfort over sustainability.
The graph aligns with our general findings, showing that interest in sustainability in various markets closely corresponds with their travel confidence, except for Singapore. Despite having highly confident travelers, more sustainable options aren’t a main priority for them.
Using travel personas to measure regions can be a valuable resource for tourism-sector enterprises. For example, an accommodation owner in Sri Lanka, a country that receives a significant number of tourists from sustainability- and community-minded India, could appeal to visitors by blending an environmentally conscious ethos with opportunities to engage with locals.
Overall sentiment toward more sustainable travel
From our research, it's evident that more sustainable options aren't yet a non-negotiable or high priority for some travelers, especially in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Japan. But the data from markets like India, Vietnam, and China is promising and clearly shows businesses the benefits of developing more sustainable practices. Accommodation providers have an opportunity to take the lead in showcasing how sustainability-driven measures positively impact local communities and enhance the overall travel experience. Travelers need to feel confident that they don’t have to compromise on comfort or convenience in service to the planet, and adopting more sustainable measures can help with this.
*Research was commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted by Milieu Insight among a sample of adults. The sample comprised 8,800 respondents across 11 markets and territories across APAC. Respondents completed an online survey between March 29 and April 7, 2023.
- Interest in more sustainable travel varies significantly across Asia-Pacific
- Developing countries and territories appear to prioritize sustainability more than industrialized ones
- Respondents from India showed the greatest consciousness toward more sustainable travel, while Japan showed the least
- Accommodation providers have an opportunity to lead on more sustainable measures