Booking.com report: Pandemic as a milestone that finally led travelers to commit to traveling more sustainably

A new study published by Booking.com, which contains insights collected from more than 29.000 passengers from 30 countries, shows that the pandemic was a turning point that made passengers ...

A new study published by Booking.com, which contains insights collected from more than 29.000 passengers from 30 countries, shows that the pandemic was a turning point that finally led passengers to commit to traveling more sustainably. 

As the world of travel begins to reopen, Booking.com’s 2021 Sustainable Travel report reveals that travelers are more determined to travel sustainably. In order to preserve the planet for future generations, 82% of travelers from Croatia believe that people should start acting immediately. Almost half of Croatian passengers (48%) state that they want to travel more sustainably in the future due to the pandemic, and the same number of them (49%) admit that the pandemic has changed their point of view and introduced more positive changes in their daily lives. recycling (49%) and reducing food waste (42%) are the most important priorities when it comes to the changes they want to introduce at home. 

According to the research, the habits of passengers from their daily lives are in line with their wishes related to future travel: 91% want to reduce municipal waste, 90% want to reduce energy consumption (for example by turning off air conditioning and lights when leaving the room ), and 86% of them state that they want to move more environmentally friendly, for example walking, cycling or using public transport services, rather than taxis or car rental services. Respect for the local community is also high on the list of travelers because 82% of them state that they want to experience authentic experiences that are representative of the local culture, and 82% of them think that greater understanding of cultures and preservation of cultural heritage are key, while 64% want to ensure that the economic performance of this branch is evenly distributed at all levels of society.

In addition, 61% of Croatian travelers state that they will even avoid popular destinations and attractions to ensure that they do not contribute to creating overcrowding and to help extend the positive impact of travel to some less visited destinations and communities.

Breaking down barriers that make sustainable travel difficult

Many of these sustainability commitments are being met. Of all travelers who have been on holiday in the last 12 months, 54% find that they consciously made the decision to turn off the air conditioning / heating in the accommodation when they left it, 59% brought their own reusable water bottle to they do not have to buy bottled water during their holidays, and 43% of them enjoyed activities to support the local community. 

In fact, more than half (60%) of passengers admitted that they are bothered if they cannot behave sustainably in the accommodation they are staying in, for example if they are not offered the opportunity to separate waste. Positive signs do exist, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. More than half of travelers do not think about local communities during the trip nor do they take small steps to reduce their impact.

While 86% of travelers from Croatia say they want to stay in sustainable accommodation in the coming year - a significant increase from 62% as reported by global travelers in 2016, when Booking.com first conducted a survey on sustainable travel, and an increase of 12% from 72% as reported by global travelers in 2020, just before the pandemic - there are still some obstacles to overcome. Moreover, if we take into account only 46% of passengers from Croatia who stated that they did not stay in a sustainable facility last year, 38% of them stated that they did not even know that such facilities exist, 36% of them stated that in the destination travelers failed to find any option, and 28% of them stated that they did not know how to look for such an accommodation facility. As many as 49% of passengers from Croatia and now in 2021 believe that there are simply not enough options available for sustainable travel. 

In terms of awareness and intentions, there are many similarities between travelers and accommodation facilities.

A new survey on a representative sample of 3390 accommodation providers reveals that 82% of Booking.com partners who provide accommodation services and who took part in the survey believe that sustainability in the hospitality industry is important. This is in line with the thinking of 84% of Croatian travelers who believe that sustainable travel is an important topic. However, although 3 out of 4 accommodation service partners state that they have implemented sustainability measures within their accommodation facility, only one third of them (31%) proactively communicate to potential guests about the measures they are implementing. And when they do, it is usually at check-in time (59%), indicating that there are still significant challenges to be overcome in order to make sustainability information easily accessible to travelers in the early stages of the booking process.

Step by step we are approaching the goal

Booking.com currently displays more than 30 certifications officially approved by the Global Council for Sustainable Tourism (GSTC), Green Tourism and the EU Ecolabel, as well as a number of sustainability programs implemented by hotel chains. The company collects this information directly from the certification body and displays it on the pages of partner facilities that hold some of these recognized third-party certificates. In addition, Booking.com also encourages accommodation providers to update sustainability information, which includes 32 significant practices in five key categories: Waste, Energy and Greenhouse Gases, Water, Local Community Support, and Nature Conservation. 

Since the global launch of this initiative, hundreds of thousands of accommodation facilities have already started sharing at least some of the sustainability information with Booking.com, and this information can be viewed on the ‘Sustainability Initiative’ banner on the accommodation pages. Although this initiative is still in its infancy, it represents an important first step in providing users with more sustainability information in a transparent manner, which will ultimately make it easier for them to make more sustainable travel choices.

"We have been conducting this research for more than six years and it is inspiring to see that the awareness of the importance of sustainable travel is constantly growing, both among our customers and our partners.", She stated Marianne Gybels, the director of the sustainability department at Booking com and adds that good intentions exist on all sides, but much more needs to be done to make sustainable travel an easy choice for everyone.

"The more we help our partners identify and implement sustainable practices, the more we will be able to experiment with how best to highlight that information to customers and ultimately make sustainability a transparent and recognizable part of the travel decision-making process. Small changes, such as removing disposable plastic or switching to energy-efficient LED bulbs, may not seem significant on their own, but if they multiply with millions of travelers and accommodation around the world, these small steps together make something that will eventually potentially have much greater positive impact”, Concludes Gybels.

Photo: Booking.com

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