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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 travelers want in 2022 based on recent Booking.com research

For many global travelers, the impact of their trips remains a priority. 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 another 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 travelers say they’ve stayed in sustainable accommodations 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’s also consensus among travelers on wanting to avoid busy and over-visited destinations, with a third (33%) saying 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 they’d 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 does the opportunity for the industry to further efforts in building and communicating more sustainable travel experiences. While awareness and visibility of sustainable stays increase, with 40% of global travelers confirming they’ve seen a sustainable accommodation on an online travel site over the past year, there’s still more to be done to make sustainable stay options easier to find. 

Of those travelers 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%) said they don’t actively look for the sustainability efforts of a property before they book, but if easily accessible, they would review them. This underscores the importance of making this sustainability info transparent and understandable for a broad audience of travelers. 

road trip

 

With 78% of global travelers 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. Over a third (35%) of global travelers said the sustainability efforts of accommodations and transportation providers play a strong role in their property and transportation decisions respectively – with a compelling 70% of respondents saying they’d be more likely to choose a sustainable accommodation whether looking specifically for one or not. 

“Seeing global travelers 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 recognize the integral role our partners play in this change, and investing in the right products and programs that help them communicate their efforts to an increasingly captive and mindful traveler 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 travelers make more sustainable choices while empowering properties already making great strides in their sustainability journeys, 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 recognized to date. Focusing on practices that have been selected for their accessibility, simplicity, and high impact potential, verified by independent industry bodies such as global sustainable tourism initiative Travalyst, the badge was 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 Australia’s Gold Coast. 

In addition to the 32 sustainable practices recorded and analyzed 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 program of educational components designed to identify and pursue measurable actions that will help lower environmental impact and increase social impact on the world. From tips for setting an environmental baseline 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 at any stage.

 

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Takeaway
  • Almost three-quarters (71%) of global travelers expressed a desire to travel more sustainably over the coming 12 months – up 10% from our 2021 report 
  • 70% of global travelers say they’d be more likely to choose a sustainable accommodation – whether looking specifically for one or not 
  • 78% of global travelers 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 on the Extranet