Train Travel Sustainable

Sustainable travel – challenges and opportunities

 | Save
Get insights on the challenges and opportunities facing sustainability in travel—and what they mean for you—from the “Building a credibly sustainable travel industry” session at our Click. 2023 event

Our most recent sustainable travel research shows that 76% of travelers want to travel more sustainably in the next 12 months. That figure is up 15% from 2021. However, over half of travelers don’t believe that there are enough sustainable travel options. How can we come together to provide our customers with what they need to easily make those choices? This is one of the topics our panel discussed during the “Building a credibly sustainable travel industry” session at our Click. 2023 event.

Challenges facing sustainable travel – for travelers and partners


Travelers increasingly want to travel more sustainably, but the barriers they face remain strong and aren't really changing. Their three main challenges are:

1. They can’t find the right sustainable travel options

This may be because they don't know exactly what they're looking for or they think what they want isn't available. For example, some assume only luxurious hotels prioritize sustainability, while others can’t find a more sustainable option in their chosen destination. By highlighting the sustainable steps you’re taking in a transparent way, you’re making this search much easier for them. 

2. Their perception is that sustainability costs more

The second thing we hear—particularly in this economic climate—is that choosing more sustainable accommodations and transportation translates to higher costs. Addressing this is critical. 

3. Trust and consistency 

Travelers looking for more sustainable options also want to make sure accommodations labeled as “sustainable” follow some sustainability best practices. They want to feel confident in their choice. To help reassure them, you should ensure any claims you make are updated and consistent across platforms.


At the same time, accommodation providers like you have significant barriers to overcome:

1. The perception that making properties more sustainable is too expensive

Given the current economic climate, you might be reluctant to invest significantly in making your property more sustainable if you aren’t sure what the return on investment will be for your business. Thankfully, some sustainability measures are considered more cost efficient in the long run, such as shifting to LED lighting or to energy-saving switches or sensors.  

2. The ability to showcase your efforts to become more sustainable to travelers

More importantly, even if you’ve taken steps to become more  sustainable, how do you showcase that to customers in a way that’s clear, supports their decision-making process, and proves you’re credible? From our recent research, we found that the vast majority of our partners are taking action but don't have a simple way of telling their customers.

Sustainable Travel Click 2023

Opportunities to create long-lasting systemic change 

Marco Lemmers, CEO of Conscious Hotels Group, shared his insights from a life-cycle assessment study he conducted. He explained how introducing small day-to-day changes can help you make a bigger impact. “Actually, we've learned that the investment in the furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E) inventory and the day-to-day operation had a bigger footprint than insulating the building.”

He also suggested introducing some small and simple promises so everyone knows exactly what they’re getting. For example, opting to go meat-free because it’s good for our planet is “a really clear goal to share as a group, or chain of hotels. And it also makes it really clear to guests arriving.”

Speaking about the travel industry at large, Luis Arujo, president of Tourism Portugal, said, “sustainability is not a competitive advantage – it’s the only way to do business.” He suggested that regulations represent an opportunity to create systemic change, and explained that in Portugal it’s no longer possible to be a five-star hotel without meeting set standards for sustainability. “We’re pretty much committed to changing the entire value chain. If we’re talking about sustainability, it’s not just about the hotels or the consumer,” said Arujo. “You have to change everything. And from the supply side, focusing on staff, training, and qualifications is crucial for sustainability.”

How our Travel Sustainable program is helping

The Travel Sustainable program is our way of recognizing the sustainable initiatives you’re taking. Since its launch in November 2021, we've had over 1.3 million properties share with us what they're doing on sustainability, and over 590,000 properties have been recognized with a Travel Sustainable badge. 

Whether you’re early in your sustainability journey or fully certified, the program allows you to display the actions you’re taking to become more sustainable on your property page. 

What’s more, the Travel Sustainable program recently received official recognition from the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), a designation made by GSTC’s Independent Assurance Panel, that the program has been deemed equivalent to the GSTC Criteria for sustainable tourism. The great news is, if you’re part of the Travel Sustainable program, your property automatically benefits from the enhanced credibility this recognition brings, making it easier for travelers to make more sustainable choices.


Building a credibly sustainable travel industry
Learn more about sustainability in travel

Watch the “Building a credibly sustainable travel industry” session from Click. 2023.

Watch now

What do you think of this page?

  • Travelers increasingly want to travel more sustainably, but they’re struggling to find options
  • Credible and transparent sustainability claims can help you win over these conscious travelers
  • From both partners’ and travelers’ perspectives, there’s a common misconception that “sustainable” means “expensive” – but this isn’t the case. Some more sustainable actions could cost you or your guests less than you think