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What travelers think about Sustainable Tourism in 2017?

As the United Nation's has designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, has released findings from its global Sustainable Travel Report ahead of Earth Day which will be celebrated on 22 April. The new research points to some promising signs when it comes to the eco-considerations weighed by both travelers and accommodations.

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The report finds out that the number of travelers staying in an eco-friendly or ‘green’ accommodation at least once could double this year with 65% of global travelers expressing this intention versus 34% who stayed in one or more last year. In addition, 68% confirm they are more likely to consider choosing an accommodation knowing that it was eco-friendly, with Chinese (93%), Brazilian (83%) and Spanish (80%) travelers the most likely. For a large 79%, sustainable considerations also impact their mode of transport when traveling, with 43% taking public transport whenever possible, 42% trying to walk, bike or hike as much as possible and nearly one fifth (18%) flying less to reduce their carbon footprint.

When it comes to making luxury adjustments in order to stay somewhere eco-friendly, the vast majority of global travelers would be more than happy to accept:

Luxury adjustments travelers would be willing to make to stay somewhere eco-friendly:
Energy saving light bulbs 94%
AC/Heating units that only run while you are in the room 89%
Low flow showerheads 80%
Recycled toilet paper 79%
Less frequent toiletry replacement 79%
Linen and towel chances less frequently 75%
Higher cost for food because its’ all locally produced 64%

Sustainable travel goals

The term ‘sustainable travel’ continues to mean many things to many people, but the role of accommodations in helping travelers to achieve their sustainable travel goals is clear. The research shows that over half (56%) consider staying in eco-friendly accommodation as sustainable travel, topping the list of what travelers think when they hear the term. For well over a third, it means conserving water by reusing towels and bed sheets (38%) and conserving the environment by reducing use of amenity goods such as shampoo, soap, toothbrush, shaving razor (35%).

For many, sustainable travel is also synonymous with a more authentic, local experience. 38% perceive the buying of locally-made products and supporting local artisans as sustainable travel, while 36% would choose an eco-friendly accommodation because it provides a more locally-relevant experience. Below is an overview of the top reasons why global travelers choose eco-friendly accommodations:

Top-5 reasons global travelers choose eco-friendly accommodations:
To help reduce environmental impact 52%
They provide a more locally-relevant experience 36%
They treat the local community better 31%
They tend to provide more locally-sourced/organic food 30%
An interest in experiencing new trends in travel accommodations 24%

Sustainable travel considerations

Even though only 5% of global travelers actually believe it is easy to travel sustainably, 46% of globally travelers consider themselves a sustainable traveler, with Italy, Germany and China seeing a rise in those identifying this way since last year but in markets like Australia, Brazil, Japan and the US there has been a fall (down 5%, 8%, 4% and 4% respectively). Below is an overview of the top green/eco-friendly practices that global travelers are taking into account when considering a property to stay in:

Top-5 most important green/eco-friendly practices when considering a property to stay in:
Solar Energy 67%
Sustainable water system 43%
Low-flow showers/toilets 36%
Organic restaurants/food options 31%
Recycling baskets in room 29%

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