Have you ever heard of the term sustainable tourism? Or maybe you haven’t understood its concept? Well, simply put, sustainable tourism is a detailed concept of a very special tourism experience.
It covers everything from social, economic, and environmental changes in order to create a travel experience that wouldn’t harm the environment.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the travel and tourism industry was booming!
The situation is currently dire but looks set to improve once safety measures and restrictions are lifted worldwide.
Even so, how many people are actually looking to travel sustainably? Let’s take a look at the numbers behind this trend.
Sustainable Tourism Facts & Trends
1. 87% of tourists would like to have the option for sustainable travel.
Booking.com, one of the world’s largest online travel agencies, has recently issued a report detailing traveler’s preferences when booking a vacation.
According to this report, almost 9 in 10 travelers would like to travel in a sustainable fashion. Furthermore, 4 in 10 (39%) are actually making their travel as sustainable as it can be.
2. 48% of travelers would only sometimes or not at all consider sustainable traveling.
Even though there are large indicators pointing out that many would like to have the option for sustainable travel, nearly half wouldn’t even consider or only sometimes consider traveling sustainably.
The reason behind the skepticism is that even though there is great progress toward greener pastures, there is actually a lot more work to be done in order to turn these intentions into real actions.
3. During 2017, sustainable tourism grew by 7%.
International tourists who opted to travel sustainably managed to reach 1.326 billion, marking a 7% increase.
This report surpassed all expectations, as the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s estimates put sustainable tourism’s increase percentage at 3.8%.
4. A 6% growth rate was recorded at the start of 2018.
The UNWTO’s projections were shattered, yet again, in a positive way of course. Namely, at the start of 2018, sustainable travel increased by 6%, exceeding 4-5% increase estimates by the UNWTO.
Range of causes for this increase largely include growth of the middle class, improved travel options and connectivity, and the emergence of new travel markets.
5. 52% of surveyed individuals in 2020 believed there’s little effort in sustainable tourism.
According to the latest sustainable tourism statistics, half of all surveyed people firmly believe that accommodation providers didn’t make an effort to offer sustainable travel options.
Additionally, 8% believed there was no effort at all, while 35% stated there’s good progress with the potential for more.
The rest, about 5%, stated they think the hotel/accommodation sector is doing everything they can to be sustainable.
6. 83% of travelers firmly believe in the importance of sustainable travel.
More than 8 in 10 people who are frequently traveling around the world believe that sustainable travel is of utmost importance in today’s tourism activities.
This is largely due to increasing concerns over global warming and the negative impacts of climate change, prompting people to become genuinely aware of the consequences that may arise if natural environments aren’t nurtured.
On the other hand, every 2 in 10 people (or about 17%) don’t believe it is important for hotels and accommodation providers to offer sustainability.
7. 4 in 10 people would choose eco-friendly resorts to help reduce negative impact.
(Travel Agent Central)
According to this intriguing number, 40% of travelers would actually go to an eco-friendly place to rest and take their leave.
Furthermore, 34% would choose a green accommodation to explore and a have local experience of the place, while the choice for the other 33% would be to feel good about making a better life decision.
8. 60% state they are impressed by nature, prompting them to continue traveling sustainably.
(Travel Agent Central)
The beauty of rain forests, coral reefs, and various natural sights are the main factors why 6 in 10 people choose to continue with sustainable travels.
Additionally, 47% would continue not only because of nature’s beauty but also because it might positively affect local people of the visited destination.
9. Cost is the biggest concern with sustainability tourism as 42% state inability to afford as the main reason.
(Travel Agent Central)
The downside to this type of tourism is the high costs that arise with sustainable bookings and reservations.
Judging by this report, 4 in 10 people cannot afford the extra expenditure, while 20% do not receive the perceived luxury accommodation they’re used to.
Sustainable Tourism Statistics Worldwide
10. Finland records the highest sustainability performance.
According to this 2021 Sustainable Development Report by Cambridge University, Finland leads the world with the highest overall performance for sustainable tourism.
The proactive government of Finland constantly develops protective regulations and policies to fight climate change. In fact, Finnish people generally have a deep affection for nature, and they fight to protect and preserve their natural environment and resources.
11. People are willing to pay up to 75% more for sustainable travel.
Even though many people consider sustainable tourism to be costlier, they’re still willing to pay more when it comes to this choice.
Namely, travelers are willing to spend up to 75% more per night to stay at an eco-friendly place while on vacation.
This is particularly useful information for hotel and accommodation providers that are looking to make their properties greener and more eco-friendly.
12. 53% of travelers buy local products when visiting.
Half of all those who travel to various parts of the world are more willing to buy locally produced goods and products rather than traditional tourist souvenirs.
This is a rather peculiar fact that adds more incentive to the whole sustainability to tourism. Additionally, 52% would opt for public transportation to explore the destination rather than using a taxi.
13. 4 in 10 would do whatever it takes to locate a restaurant that uses only local ingredients.
Depending on each person’s preferences, we can see that many people try to take full advantage of sustainable vacation activities, maximizing their enjoyment in the process.
With that in mind, 41% would do anything they can to locate that one restaurant that serves its customers’ food using only local ingredients.
14. 35% believe energy-saving sensors should control heaters and air conditioners.
Among the latest sustainable travel reports comes interesting data. Travelers believe that accommodation units for cooling or heating should be controlled by keycards or by energy-saving sensors.
Furthermore, 27% would like to reuse cutlery and plates for meals or for room service. And what’s most fascinating, but also surprising, is that 27% are also inclined to opt out of daily room cleaning in order to reduce water usage.
15. Travelers’ everyday priorities include recycling 49% of the time.
Recycling is among the top priorities for travelers, taking up 49% of their time. Reducing food waste is the second-largest priority with 42%, while avoiding public transportation or general use of vehicles ranks third with 34%.
Single-use plastic products are the last on the list of priorities for travelers, with people focusing on this 33% of the time.
16. Accommodation businesses with photos receive up to 42% more directions requests.
According to a Google report, tourism listings that include photos of the places to visit, receive far more requests than those that do not.
Furthermore, the same businesses also receive up to 35% more clicks to their websites than those businesses without a listing or photos attached. This is of utmost importance, especially for businesses that claim to be sustainable, as travelers would be reassured once they’ve seen some evidence.
17. 26% of travelers believe governments are most accountable for positive changes to environments.
When travelers were asked who is most responsible for making positive changes, a little less than a third responded with “governments”.
Additionally, 23% believe tourism authorities are making the most impact, while 20% mentioned the travelers themselves are mostly accountable.
The lowest percentages go to hotel and accommodation providers and online travel agents with 8% and 6%, respectively.
18. 32% state they are unaware of how to make their travel a sustainable one.
Approximately a third of all travelers don’t even know how to turn their vacation into a sustainable one. What’s more, nearly half (48%) say it’s very difficult to make sustainable choices while vacationing.
Even though global awareness of sustainable tourism is increasing, it’s still difficult for travelers to adjust. This is where property managers can help alleviate the pressure by making energy-saving decisions that would take the burden off of tourists.
Sustainable Travel Future Trends & Tendencies
19. 65% state they’re getting excited at the prospect of traveling again.
According to a survey conducted by Booking.com, the global pandemic and lockdowns urged two-thirds of people to crave going out into the world again.
Namely, 65% have stated that they can’t wait to start traveling again once the pandemic dies down and restrictions get lifted.
20. 42% say they’ll travel more to make up for the lost time in 2020.
4 in 10 individuals state that they’ll be looking to travel as much as they can once the pandemic ends. According to them, many had lost valuable time in 2020 when lockdowns were more strict.
In terms of generations, 51% of Gen Z and 49% of Millennials say they plan to make trips to celebrate lost moments in 2020.
21. In 2021 though, 62% state they’re not going to overspend on traveling.
Contrastingly to the previous stat, 6 in 10 people are not planning to go overboard and spend all they can.
In fact, when it comes to searching for a place to visit, people are more likely to be conscious of the pricing rather than just book the first accommodation.
Additionally, 55% state they’d wait for a promotional offer or a discount before booking or making a reservation.
22. 46% of travelers are looking at refundable hotels or accommodation providers.
A little less than half of all who are looking to travel sustainably say they are looking for full-refund options on their bookings.
Apparently, this is a deal-breaker for travelers, and with good reason too. Even though the coronavirus is slowing down and with scientists’ predictions that the pandemic will be over soon, people are still hesitant to take risks when it comes to making a reservation for a trip.
23. More than 8 in 10 people are looking to reduce waste in future trips.
It appears that people are taking on a pledge to truly help nature and our environment. 84% of future travelers are saying they would focus on reducing waste on future trips in addition to avoiding the use of single-use plastics.
This is, indeed, a genuine life change, not just for people but for nature as a whole. And we all know the benefits of having a safer and cleaner environment.
24. The market size evaluation for ecotourism amounted to $181.1 billion in 2019.
(Allied Market Research)
Sustainable tourism peaked in 2019, prior to the worldwide pandemic. The great emphasis on the protection and preservation of nature led to a fantastic market share in 2019.
With $181.1 billion market size, ecotourism is expected to continue increasing within the next five years.
By how much?
Find out in the next stat!
25. By 2027, the ecotourism market is expected to reach $333.8 billion.
(Allied Market Research)
Now this is an astonishing figure, to say the least. Ecotourism’s expectations are likely to increase within the next five years.
Experts believe a CAGR of 14.3% will be evident from 2021 to 2027, eventually leading up to a market size value of $333.8 billion.
26. 37% of US travelers are planning domestic and international trips.
Contrastingly to the many travelers that are looking for cost-effective, sustainable travel offers, Americans are planning to go big for their next trip.
Two-thirds of respondents stated they’re planning for both types of travel. However, the majority, or about 59%, are looking at domestic travel only.
The interest, though, is increasing. Reports suggest that overseas reservations have increased by 35% among US citizens.
27. Overseas flight travel to major European cities has increased up to 110%.
American tourists of both coasts are looking to make the most out of 2022, with reports suggesting a heavy increase of flight reservations going to major European cities.
Namely, flight travel reservations have increased by 65% from Los Angeles to London, and a whopping 110% from New York to Paris.
Even though warm-weather destinations remain popular, Americans are looking to visit top European cities in an effort to have bucket-list memories.
28. COVID-19 brings about 7 trends in sustainable tourism.
Those who are interested in tourism management or accommodation services might want to watch out for a handful of trends that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought forth:
- Hygiene – this goes without saying, as people are more aware of their hygiene which is also a vital part today in order to keep visitors safe.
- Leisurely activities – with the majority of people working remotely, many become desperate to start hanging out again and maximize their off time.
- Local travels – travel restrictions and covid protocols have swayed tourists to start visiting local places rather than risking not experiencing their overseas travels.
- Contactless payments – modern technologies are in full swing, and using contactless payments is a trend that many would like to make use of.
- Voice search – tourist information is vital, and being able to find everything you need with a voice command is a valuable asset every tourist place needs to have.
- Eco traveling – travelers are starting to behave far more ethically and sustainably, looking for various sustainable-friendly tourism attractions and destinations.
- Local experiences – today’s tourism has turned toward experiencing local cultures more than the classical cultural bubble.
Sustainable tourism is all about adapting our travel experience while taking care of our planet. We need to create a balance between our nature’s limited resources and human’s usage of these assets.
The future looks bright as more and more people are getting acquainted with the possibility of sustainable travel.
With governments, hotels, and other accommodation providers, aiding in sustainable tourism, it is very much likely to hit new peaks in the foreseeable future by addressing visitors’ needs while also taking into full account the environment’s social, economic, and industry essentials and issues.
Sustainable travel may not be for everyone, but these sustainable tourism statistics show us that we need to safeguard our green planet.
Phew! This was a lot to read. We hope you’ve learned something along the way (we know we did!).
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out—we’re always happy to help.