Many airlines now offer their passengers the opportunity to offset the carbon footprint of their flight by participating in reforestation projects, as with Air France, or by supporting the production of sustainable aviation fuel made from cooking oils or fats, as with Lufthansa. These initiatives may seem like greenwashing to some environmental experts, but they resonate with 37% of travelers worldwide.
While vacationers are keen to finalize their travel plans for the coming summer, an international study revealed by tour operator Expedia shows the extent to which travelers are aware of the impact tourism has on the environment. Responsible travel is no longer the prerogative of an environmentally minded niche. No less than seven out of ten travelers have already decided at least once not to book a trip because it did not align with sustainable principles.
Of course, how one defines a sustainable trip remains somewhat nebulous. First of all, the environmental impact is the most frequently mentioned criterion, with 69% of respondents citing that. In 66% of cases, a trip is considered sustainable if it supports the local economy, while 65% also consider that local cultures and communities should be supported. Not participating in mass tourism is cited to a lesser extent, with only 52% of respondents agreeing to visit less famous destinations.
Although these answers are only based on declarations, this study shows just how much travelers are aware of the need to rethink travel in order to make it less impactful from both an environmental and ethical point of view. Sixty-five percent will think about booking transportation and accommodations in line with these new issues for their next trip. And as many as 70% are even ready to give up their comfort, to endure longer travel times, or to sleep in inconvenient accommodation as long as the trip is in line with their beliefs.
Among the solutions for a more responsible travel experience are carbon offset programs, which appeal to 37% of respondents. However, 30% admit that they would like to benefit from more options of this type for air travel, 28% for train travel and 26% for rental cars.
The Expedia study, conducted by Wakefield Research, involved a sample of 11,000 travelers surveyed in 11 countries, including France, Germany, the United States, Brazil, India, China and Japan.