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Agoda Sustainable Travel Trends Survey reveals people’s top concerns about tourism’s impact, and mea

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Easy identification of sustainable eco-friendly travel options, limited use of single-use plastics and financial incentives for accommodation providers who maximize energy efficiencies are the top three additional measures needed to make travel more sustainable according to Agoda’s Sustainable Travel Trends Survey. Establishing more protected areas to limit tourist numbers and removal of single-use bathroom amenities round out the top five global measures.  

  

The findings from the Survey launched today to mark World Environment Day 2021 (5 June) also revealed globally that overtourism, and pollution of beaches and waterways are the top two concerns of the impact of tourism, with deforestation and energy inefficiencies (including overconsumption of electricity/water) ranking joint third.  

 

Governments considered most responsible for making changes to make travel more sustainable   

 

Globally, the public considers Governments most accountable for making positive environmental changes around travel, followed by tourism authorities and individuals themselves. When it came to holding governments most accountable, those in Indonesia and UK were most likely to do so (36%), China followed not too far behind at 33%, with Australia and Malaysia in fourth and fifth spot (28% and 27% respectively.The markets most likely to cite themselves or individuals as most responsible for making changes to traveling sustainably were Thailand (30%), Japan (29%) and the US (28%). Meanwhile, China (11%), the UK (13%), and Vietnam (14%) were least likely to attribute responsibility to the individual.  

 

When asked what they would pledge to do better in a post COVID travel scenario, the top responses globally were #1 manage their waste including using less single-use plastics, #2 switch off the air con and lights when leaving their accommodation, and #3 always look for eco-friendly accommodation. Interestingly, despite overtourism being the biggest concern, going to lesser-known destinations only ranked seventh of out of 10 as a pledge to do better.  

 

No ‘one size fits all for’ sustainability   

 

The top practices most associated with environmentally friendly or sustainable travel are #1 renewable energy and resources like solar, wind, hydroelectric and water, #2 no single-use plastics, joint number #3 animal conservation and creating a smaller carbon footprint.  

  

Other energy saving solutions such as key cards or motion sensors, using natural cleaning products are the other key practices.  Interestingly, buying locally sourced products, reusing bedding or towels during holiday stays and visiting off-the-beaten track destinations are the bottom three practices out of 10 associated with sustainable travel.  

  

“We can see from the Agoda Sustainable Travel Trends Survey that the messages of taking simple steps such as switching off lights and air conditioning when leaving the room or reducing waste by minimizing use of single-use plastics are being embraced by the public across the globe.  What is also clear is that while globally the message is Governments need to take the lead on managing sustainable travel, there is recognition that some responsibility lies with people’s own behavior,” explains John Brown, CEO Agoda.  

 

“While there are different interpretations of what practices are eco-friendly or sustainable, most of the public are keen to be able to do their part, by actively pledging to choose eco-friendly properties or make smarter environmental choices when traveling. One of the easiest ways to counter concerns about overtourism is to consider traveling to off the beaten track destinations. This past year at Agoda, we have seen a shift in travel patterns as people, limited to domestic travel, explore lesser-known areas. If managed well, not only does this help support independent hoteliers and accommodation providers that rely economically on the tourist dollar, it can help lessen the environmental burden on overcrowded areas.”    

 

“As an industry, we need to continue to find ways to help individuals achieve these goals be it making it easier to search and find sustainable properties on Agoda or supporting and encouraging more partners to use key cards for power, use renewable energy sources or offering carbon-offsetting options for travel products.” continued Brown.  

  

COVID negatively impacts attitudes to sustainable travel   

 

The increase in desire to travel more sustainably was most prevalent among respondents from South Korea, India and Taiwan, 35%, 31% and 31% respectively. However, looking at the figures globally, while 25% have an increased desire to travel more sustainably this compares with 35% whose desire to do so decreased.  The markets reporting the biggest proportional decrease were Indonesia (56%), Thailand (51%) and the Philippines (50%).  

  

“It’s concerning that many people see sustainable travel as less important today than they did before COVID-19, but I hope that is just a short-term effect, driven by people’s thirst to get back out there and travel any way they can,” Brown concluded.  

  

Diving deep into the data  

On additional measures:  

  • While making it compulsory for travelers to pay a sum for carbon off-setting is selected by the least as a measure that could be implemented to make travel more sustainable, respondents in India were most likely to support this concept, versus China which is the market least likely to do so, followed by US and Taiwan markets. 
  • Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, China and Australia are the markets most likely to suggest financial incentives for accommodation providers who maximize energy efficiency 
  • Japan is the market least likely to recommend more protected areas to limit tourist numbers followed by South Korea and the US.  Meanwhile, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia markets are most likely to 
  • UK tops the list as the market most likely to support limiting use of single-use plastics in airlines or accommodation, closely followed by Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. China, Taiwan, the US and Japan are least likely to suggest this measure 
  • Malaysian, Filipinos and Indonesians are most favorable for easy identification of sustainable or eco-friendly travel options, such as flagging with an environmental tag on a digital travel platform. While still their number one measure overall, US and Japan are the bottom two markets for such identification 
  • Removal of single-use bathroom amenities is most favored by TaiwanJapan and UK 

On responsibility for change to make travel more sustainable:  

  • All generations selected governments as the top response for who is most responsible except for the Silent Gen (those born before 1946), who has the largest proportion which consider individuals as most responsible 
  • Men are marginally more likely to cite governments as most responsible (28%), followed by tourism authorities (21%) and Themselves (20%).  An equal portion of women hold government and tourism authorities as most responsible (25%), followed by themselves, (19%). 

On Pledges for more sustainable travel 

Global Top Ten pledges to travel more sustainably   

  1. Manage my waste during my travel period (e.g., use less single-use plastics)  
  2. Switch the air conditioner and lights off when I leave my room  
  3. Always look for eco-friendly accommodation  
  4. Try to manage my carbon footprint (e.g., taking most journeys by bus, train or boat, or paying for a carbon offset) 
  5. Do my part to reuse hotel amenities such as towels or bedding 
  6. Shop local/choose independent businesses  
  7. Going to lesser-known destinations  
  8. Pick up litter when I visit the beach  
  9. Requesting for no toiletries in the room as I can bring my own  
  10. Use reef-friendly products on beach trips  

 

  • Philippines, Malaysia and India are most likely of all markets to pledge to look for eco-friendly accommodation 
  • SingaporeUK and Australia are the markets most likely to pledge to reuse hotel amenities such as towels and bedding, compared to Indonesia, PhilippinesChina, and Thailand which are the least likely to 
  • IndonesiaPhilippines, and Malaysia most likely to pledge to go to lesser-known destinations to travel more sustainably, with JapanUK and Taiwan least likely to 
  • While managing waste including using less single-use plastics is a top three pledge for all markets, South KoreaThailand, and Philippines are the markets most likely to pledge this 
  • Despite pollution of waterways being cited as the number two concern for the impact of travel, picking up litter off beaches ranks only #8 out of 10 in pledges to travel more sustainably, with only 18% pledging to do so 
  • Vietnam, Thailand, IndonesiaPhilippines, and China are top markets to pledge to pick up litter when visiting the beach.  Respondents in Singapore, Taiwan and Japan are least likely to 
  • Shopping local is at #6 in the pledges with Australia (35%), UK (31%) and US (28%) most likely to pledge this, and Japan (5%), China (9%) and Taiwan (11%) least likely to 
  • Higher percentage of women pledge to manage waste (44% versus 40%) and switched off aircon/lights (44% versus 36%) than men 
  • Bottom five pledges globally from last – using reef friendly products on beach trips (14%), requesting no toiletries as can bring my own (17%), picking up litter when visiting the beach (18%) going to lesser-known destinations (19%), and shopping local (21%) 
  • While both women and men’s top three pledges are the same, women’s top four is rounded out by a pledge to reuse hotel amenities, versus men who pledge bigger actions such as trying to manage carbon footprint in their fourth spot 
  • Singaporeans are more likely to pledge to switch off aircon and lights when they leave the room and reuse amenities, compared to other markets 
  • Philippines (49%), Malaysia (43%) and India (42%) are most likely to always look for eco-friendly accommodation when they travel post COVID-19 
  • Conversely, public in the UK (14%), China (17%), US (17%), Japan (18%) and South Korea (18%) are least likely to look for eco-friendly accommodation   

Australia  

  • Australians are most concerned about overtourism followed by polluted beaches and waterway, and energy waste/inefficiencies 
  • 28% of Australians believe Governments are most responsible for making changes within the sustainable travel space, followed by tourism authorities at 19%, and 18% they themselves  
  • Australians pledge to switch off air conditioners and lights when they leave their room, manage waste by reducing use of single-use plastics, shop at local independent businesses and re-use hotel amenities such as towels and bedding 
  • Practices that are considered most helpful to travel sustainably by Australians are accommodations using renewable energy, key cards to power electricity in hotels/accommodation and destinations that are not high-density tourist spots 
  • When asked what practices Australians associate with sustainable travel they selected #1 use of renewable resources, #2 no single use plastics, and tied for third spot, a smaller carbon footprint and buying local when traveling 
  • The additional measures to help make travel more sustainable according to Australians are limiting single use plastics in airlines/accommodations, easy identification of eco-friendly travel options and #3 on the list is financial incentives to accommodation providers who maximize energy efficiency

China 

  • Overtourism was the biggest concern for Chinese, followed by polluted beaches and deforestation 
  • 33% of Chinese selected Governments most responsible when it came to changes around tourism, followed by tourism authorities at 22% and 11% believe they themselves are responsible for making changes within the sustainable travel space 
  • More Chinese would pledge to bring their own toiletries, manage waste and switch off the air conditioning and lights when they leave their room when traveling 
  • Practices that are most helpful to travel sustainably by Chinese are by accommodations using renewable energy/water, followed by no single-use plastics within the accommodation, and destinations that are not high-density tourist spots  
  • When asked what Chinese public associate most with sustainability 47% chose use of renewable resources followed by 35% creating a smaller carbon footprint and 33% no single use plastics 
  • Additional measures suggested were easy identification of eco-friendly travel options rank #1 at 57%, followed by financial incentives at 51%, with establishing more protected areas to limit tourist numbers at 40% 

  India 

  • Indians are most concerned about polluted beaches and waterways, and overtourism equally, followed by the use of single-use plastics and energy inefficiencies 
  • 24% of Indians believe Governments are most responsible when it comes to making changes to help travel more sustainability, followed by 22% who cite tourism authorities and, 20% who said themselves  
  • More Indians pledge to choose eco-friendly accommodations, manage waste by using less single-use plastics, and switch off air conditioner and lights when they leave their room when traveling in the future 
  • Practices that are considered most helpful to travel sustainably by Indians are accommodations using renewable energy, no single-use plastic in the accommodation and traveling to destinations that are not high-density tourist spots 
  • When asked what practices Indians associate with sustainability 36% cite renewable resources, 32% natural cleaning products, and 31% eco-friendly building design/furniture 
  • The additional measures to help make travel more sustainable according to Indians are easy identification of eco-friendly travel options followed by limiting the use of single use plastics in airlines and accommodations, and financial incentives to accommodations providers who maximize energy efficiencies   

 

  Indonesia 

  • Indonesians are most concerned about overtourism, followed by polluted beaches and waterways, then the use of single use plastics in destination accommodations 
  • Indonesia has the highest proportion among all markets (on par with UK) to believe that the government is most responsible for changes around tourism, with 36% indicating so. This is followed by 31% choosing tourism authorities, and 17% saying they themselves are responsible.  
  • Manage waste including use of single use plastics, always looking for eco-friendly accommodation and switching off air conditioners and lights when leaving their room are top three pledges for Indonesians when they travel post Covid-19 
  • No single-use plastics in an accommodation, accommodation using renewable energy or water sources, and destinations that are not high-density tourist spots are the top three most helpful things for Indonesians to travel more sustainably 
  • What practices do they associate with “sustainable travel”?  41% say animal conservation, which is tied with renewable resources for top spot. In third spot, 39% associate sustainable travel with no single use plastics 
  • Other measures suggested were easy identification of eco-friendly travel options, followed by limiting the use of single use plastics in accommodations and airlines, and establishing more protected areas to limit tourist numbers 

Japan  

  • Japanese are most concerned about overtourism first, followed by polluted beaches and waterways and deforestation  
  • Japanese hold themselves accountable (29%) followed by 22% who believe Governments and 15% tour operators as most responsible to making changes towards a more sustainable travel 
  • Practices that are considered most helpful by Japanese are the use of renewable resources, no single-use plastics in accommodations and making a smaller carbon footprint 
  • When asked what practices Japanese associate with sustainability, 35% suggest use of renewable energy and resources, 33% said no single use plastics and 32% smaller carbon footprint  
  • The additional measures Japanese public cite will help make travel more sustainable are easy identification of eco-friendly travel options followed by limiting single-use plastic in airlines and accommodations, and removal of single-use bathroom amenities and toiletries 

Malaysia 

  • More Malaysians are most concerned about overtourism, followed by polluted beaches and waterways, then deforestation  
  • Malaysians believe Governments are most responsible when it came to making changes to make travel more sustainable (27%), followed by tourism authorities at 25%, and themselves at 16%  
  • Malaysians pledge to always look for eco-friendly accommodations, manage their waste during their travel period and switch off air conditioners and lights when leaving their room when they travel post COVID-19 
  • Practices that are considered most helpful to travel sustainably by Malaysians are accommodations using #1 renewable energy, #2 key cards to power electricity in hotels, and destinations that are not high-density tourist spots  
  • When asked what practices Malaysians associate with sustainability, 40% considered use of renewable energy/resources, followed energy saving practices such as motion senor lights, key cards for electricity (36%), and in joint third spot eco-friendly building design/furnishings and animal conservation, both at 29% 
  • The additional measures to help make travel more sustainable according to Malaysians are easy identification of eco-friendly travel options, limiting single use plastics, and providing financial incentives to accommodation providers who maximize energy efficiency 

 

 

Philippines 

  • More Filipinos are most concerned about polluted beaches and waterways (26%), followed by overtourism (24%), and with 14% each, the use of single-use of plastics in destination accommodations and deforestation.  
  • 35% of Filipinos believe tourism authorities are responsible for making sustainability changes, coming in second was the Government at 19%, while 18% of Filipinos hold themselves accountable for traveling more sustainably  
  • Always look for eco-friendly accommodations and managing their waste, such as by using less single-use plastics, are joint top pledges for the public in the Philippines (49%), followed by 26% who will shop local and 25% pledging to switch off air conditioners and lights when they leave the room when they travel in the future 
  • Practices that are considered helpful to travel sustainably by Filipinos are accommodations that use renewable resources 27%), destinations that are not high-density tourist spots (18%) and no single-use plastics in accommodation  
  • When asked what practices Filipinos associated with sustainability, Filipinos most associated renewable energy such as solar, wind or water waste management (43%), followed by eco-friendly building design or furnishings (39%) and buying local products from local sellers (36%) 
  • The additional measures to help make travel more sustainable according to Filipinos are easy identification of eco-friendly travel options, limiting use of single-use plastics in airlines/accommodations and establishing more protected areas to limit tourist numbers 

 

 

Singapore 

  • More Singaporeans are most concerned about overtourism , followed by energy waste and polluted beaches and waterways  
  • 29% of Singaporeans think tourism authorities are most responsible to making change within sustainability, followed by 24% Government and they themselves  
  • More Singaporeans pledge to switch off air conditioner and lights when leaving their room, manage their waste and re-use hotel amenities like towels and bedding 
  • Practices that are considered most helpful to travel sustainably by Singaporeans are using key cards to power electricity in an accommodation, accommodations using renewable energy and reusable amenities. 
  •  When asked what practices Singaporeans associate with sustainability, they said renewable energy, energy saving practices and eco-friendly building design and furnishings 
  • The additional measures to help make travel more sustainable according to Singaporeans are easy identification of eco-friendly travel options, limiting single-use plastic in airlines/accommodations and financial incentives to accommodation providers who maximize energy efficiency   

 

 

South Korea: 

  • Deforestation is the topmost concern regarding the impact of travel for South Koreans (23%), with both polluted beaches and waterways, and use of single-use plastics in accommodation as joint second most important 
  • South Koreans believe tourism authorities are most responsible for making changes to make travel more sustainable (27%), followed by governments and themselves at 21%  
  • Manage waste such as using less single-use plastic, as well as switching off air conditioners and lights when leaving the room are the top pledges for South Koreans when they travel again post-Covid (53%). This is followed by trying to manage their carbon footprint by taking most journeys by bus, train or boat, or paying for a carbon offset 
  • No single-use plastics in accommodation, reusable amenities such as shower gels or glass water bottles, and accommodation using renewable energy sources are the top three things South Koreans find most helpful to travel more sustainably 
  • What do they associate with “sustainable travel”? Koreans cite No single use plastics 54%, use of renewable resources 39% and energy saving practices at 38% 
  • The additional measures to help make travel more sustainable according to South Koreans are #1 Easy identification of eco-friendly travel options, #2 Limiting use of single-use plastic in airlines or accommodations and #3 Financial incentives to accommodation providers who maximize energy efficiency  

 

 

Taiwan 

  • More Taiwanese are most concerned about overtourism (29%), followed by energy waste (19%), and polluted beaches and waterways (16%) 
  • Taiwanese feel Governments and tour operators are most responsible at 24% followed by tourism authorities and themselves at 17% each 
  • Taiwanese pledge to switch off air conditioners and lights when leaving their room, opt to supply own toiletries and try to manage waste when they travel post COVID 
  • Practices that are considered find most helpful to travel sustainably by Taiwanese are accommodations using of renewable resources (#1), no single-use plastics (#2), and key cards to power electricity in an accommodation (#3) 
  • When asked what practices Taiwanese associate with sustainability, 47% considered use of renewable resources, 43% no single-use plastics, and 40% creating a smaller carbon footprint 
  • The additional measures to help make travel more sustainable according to Taiwanese are easy identification of eco-friendly travel options (62%), financial incentives to accommodation providers who maximize energy efficiency (55%), and removal of single-use bathroom amenities/toiletries (46%) 

 

 

Thailand 

  • More Thais are most concerned the impact tourism plays on overtourism, deforestation for tourism, and energy waste or inefficiency 
  • 30% of Thais believe they themselves are most responsible, followed by tourism authorities (25%), and governments (24%), for making changes within the sustainable travel space 
  • Thais pledge to manage their own waste by using less single-use plastics (53%), during travel period, always look for eco-friendly accommodation (37%), and switch the air conditioners and lights off when leaving room (31%) when they travel in the post COVID period 
  • Practices that are considered most helpful to travel sustainably by Thais are accommodations using renewable energy or water sources (31%), reusable amenities (20%), and key cards to power electricity in an accommodation (15%) 
  • When asked what practices associate with sustainability, 47% considered use of renewable resources, 41% animal conservation, and 35% use of natural cleaning products 
  • The additional measures to help make travel more sustainable are easy identification of sustainable/eco-friendly travel options, financial incentives to accommodation providers who maximize energy efficiency, and limiting use of single-use plastic in airlines or accommodations. 

 

 

UK: 

  • In line with the global trend, overtourism is the top concern about impacts of tourism   for Brits,(25%) followed by polluted beaches and waterways, (23%) and then deforestation (18%) 
  • More British hold Governments most accountable for making changes to tourism to make traveling more sustainable at 36%, followed by transport providers at 16% and tourism authorities (15%) 
  • UK top pledges to travel more sustainably after COVID-19 are switch off air conditioner and lights when they leave their room, followed by reuse hotel amenities such as towels and bedding, and manage waste by using less single-use plastics during their travel 
  • What practices do British associate with “sustainable travel”? Top three are creating smaller carbon footprint 51%, use of renewable resources 50% and no single-use plastics with 33% 
  • When asked what would help people travel more sustainably? The top three things are accommodations using renewable energy (29%), followed by no single-use plastics in accommodation (15%), and in joint third (12%) reusable amenities, use of key cards to power off electricity in accommodation and destinations that are not high-destiny tourist spots 
  • Top three additional measures to help make travel more sustainable according to the Brits are limiting use of single-use plastic in airlines or accommodations, easy identification of eco-friendly travel options, and financial incentives to accommodation providers who maximize energy efficiency 

 

 

US 

  • More Americans are most concerned about polluted beaches, followed by overtoursim, and energy inefficiencies. 
  • Americans take complete accountability, with 28% claiming they themselves are responsible for making changes around tourism to make traveling more sustainable, followed by both tourism authorities and Governments tied at 16%  
  • US top pledges to travel more sustainably post-Covid are #1 switch off air conditioner and lights when leaving their hotel room, #2 reuse hotel amenities such as towels or bedding and joint #3 shopping local or independent businesses and managing their waste 
  • Practices that are considered most helpful to travel sustainably by Americans are accommodations using renewable energy or water source, key cards to power electricity in an accommodation, and destinations that are not high-density tourist spots  
  • What do they associate with “sustainable travel”? Use of renewable energy 36%, energy saving 26%, no single use plastics and buying local both tie at 25% 
  •  The additional measures to help make travel more sustainable according to Americans are easy identification of eco-friendly travel options, limiting use of single-use plastic in airlines or accommodations, and financial incentives to accommodation providers who maximize energy efficiency 

 

Vietnam 

  • More Vietnamese are most concerned about overtourism (28%), followed by deforestation (24%) and use of single-use plastics in destination accommodations (16%)  
  • 26% of Vietnamese hold tourism authorities (26%) most responsible for making change within the sustainability space, followed by Governments (19%) and then with tour operators (16%) 
  • Vietnamese top three pledges for post COVID travel are #1 to always look for eco-accommodation (36%), joint #2 to manage their waste and switch off air conditioners and lights (34%) 
  • Practices that are considered most helpful to travel sustainably by Vietnamese are accommodations that use renewable energy/water (24%), followed by destinations that are not high-density spots, renewable amenities and no single use plastics in an accommodation, all at 16% 
  • What asked what practices Vietnamese associate with sustainable travel they said using natural cleaning products (40%), animal conservation (38%), use of renewable resources (36%) 
  • The additional measures to help make travel more sustainable according to Vietnamese, easy identification of eco-travel options by 59%, limiting single use plastics in airlines/accommodations by 57%, financial incentives for accommodations that maximize energy efficiency by 40% 
This press release was sourced from Agoda on 08-Jun-2021.