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Travelers faced with the dilemma of affordability or sustainability

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Travelers faced with the dilemma of affordability or sustainability

Travelers are increasingly facing a dilemma where they feel potentially forced to choose between cutting costs and being more mindful about making more sustainable travel choices, according to new research Released by Booking.

1. Environment vs cost of living

The survey, conducted with over 33,000 participants across 35 countries and territories, reveals that, at a time of general global uncertainty, traveling more sustainably continues to be front of mind for travellers, with three-quarters (74%) believing people need to act now and make more sustainable choices to save the planet for future generations.

While travel may be back, rising living costs and climate anxiety have led to greater demand for more budget and planet-friendly options.

Glenn Fogel, CEO of Booking.com

© Booking.com

The news continues to be a key influence driver for 53%, who say the recent climate change news agenda has encouraged them to be more sustainable, and yet it also speaks to a quandary facing people when it comes to being more mindful about when, where and how they travel. While nearly half (49%) think the environment will get worse in the next six months, 64% believe the cost of living crisis will also get worse, leaving people unsure of what to prioritize as they work to reconcile what is important to them with the demands of everyday life.

The economic climate has changed dramatically since last year, and the big topics at the forefront of people’s minds today are the cost of living crisis and the climate crisis. Over three quarters (76%) of travelers say they want to travel more sustainably over the coming 12 months, while the same amount think the global energy crisis and rising cost of living is impacting their spending plans. For some travelers the two are mutually exclusive.

With rising inflation, nearly half of travelers are stuck in the notion that they must make a choice between sustainability and spending, with 49% believing more sustainable travel options are too expensive (up 11% 2022 data). For these respondents, sustainability and travel combined can seem non-urgent when they are worried about affording bills and the energy crisis.

© Booking.com

On the flip side, with travel well and truly back for others and a more urgent focus on conscious choices, 43% of today’s travelers would be willing to pay more for travel options with a sustainable certification, dialing up their spend to feel reassured they are driving impact. However, they are seeking more sustainable travel options rich in rewards, highlighting the perceived trade-off between making conscious choices and saving money and the need for incentivization. Nearly half (49%) want discounts and economic incentives in order to opt for eco-friendly options (up 12% from 2022), while 42% would be encouraged to travel more sustainably with reward points for making more sustainable choices that they could use for free extra perks or discounts through online travel booking sites.

2. Lack of options

Limited data and a perceived lack of options are additional barriers to traveling more sustainably that appear higher than ever. Over half (51%) of travelers believe there are not enough sustainable travel options, while 74% want travel companies to offer more sustainable travel choices (up from 66% in 2022).

“More sustainable travel is an investment for the world, and we are committed to making it easier for everyone to experience travel in a more mindful and responsible way, no matter where they are on their sustainability journey”, said Glenn Fogel, CEO of Booking .com.

Despite good intentions, 44% of travelers don’t know where to find more sustainable options. For example, 75% seek authentic experiences that are representative of the local culture, yet in stark contrast 40% don’t know how or where to find these tours and activities that will ensure they give back to the local community.

3. Adopting sustainable micro-habits on vacation

Despite existing barriers and the tightening of purse strings, it’s clear there’s a huge appetite for solutions with four in five (80%) travelers confirming that traveling more sustainably is important to them. Travelers say they are converting intent into action by taking active small steps at home, and when traveling, to drive a more sustainable future.

Travel can be a force for good and travelers themselves are proving to be today’s changemakers, adopting more sustainable travel habits and seeking responsible experiences.

Glenn Fogel, CEO of Booking.com

© Booking.com

Encouragingly, today 68% use reusable shopping bags, 64% recycle waste and 58% carry their own reusable water bottle – and there’s been a significant uptake in travelers adopting everyday habits on vacation in the past year. 67% turn the air conditioning off at accommodations when they aren’t there, up 29% from 2022, 60% re-use the same towel multiple times, up 25% from 2022, 55% use their own reusable water bottle, up 19 % by 2022, more than three-quarters (77%) say they turn off the lights and appliances at accommodations when they aren’t there, while almost half (45%) now recycle their garbage when traveling.

Even more promisingly, travelers are taking action to make conscious choices on vacation that go beyond these everyday micro-habits. When it comes to transportation, 43% now plan their sightseeing so that they can walk, bike or take public transport, while 43% travel outside of peak season in a bid to avoid overcrowding – both up 10% by 2022. There is also consensus amongst travelers on taking the ‘buy local’ mantra on vacation, with 43% favoring small, independent stores.

© Booking.com

4. Sustainability filters

Unquestionably, amid rising climate anxiety, travelers are becoming more responsible consumers, from their accommodation to their transport choices. With two thirds (66%) wanting to leave the places they visit better than when they arrived, today’s travelers are increasingly adopting a regenerative approach to travel and searching for vacations with maximum positive impact, while seeking credible assurance when booking across the entire travel experience .

For example, travelers can now easily filter their rental car search results to quickly find fully electric and hybrid cars across 110 countries for their next trip. Or choose one of over 500,000 more sustainable options for your next stay, no matter the accommodation type. Nearly two thirds (65%) would feel better about staying in a particular accommodation if they knew it had a sustainable certification or label, while 59% want to filter their options for those with a sustainable certification next time they book.

Still, with one in four (39%) travelers today not trusting that the sustainable travel options labeled are truly more sustainable, there are huge strides for the travel industry to make in gaining the trust of consumers.

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