Demand for nature-based, sustainable travel experiences is growing, especially since COVID: This was a key message to come out of conversations with buyers at this year’s Australian Tourism Exchange, held as a hybrid event in Sydney and online between 6-17 June.
This echoes the findings of Booking.com’s most recent Sustainability Report, released on World Environment Day, 5 June, which states that 61% of travellers surveyed said that the COVID pandemic has made them want to travel more sustainably in the future. The same report states that 83% of global travellers think sustainable travel is vital, 72% of travellers believe people must act now to save the planet for future generations and 81% of travellers say they want to stay in a sustainable accommodation in the upcoming year – up from 62% in 2016.
Interestingly, travel giant Agoda, which released the results of its own Sustainable Travel Trends Survey on 5 June, found that intention to travel responsibly was high among some markets (including respondents from South Korea, India and Taiwan), but that overall, globally, the desire to travel more sustainably seemed to have dropped since COVID.
In any case, translating desire into practice is not without its challenges, and for travellers, a key barrier to changed behaviour remains the inability to easily source and select sustainable travel options when they’re planning their next escape.
And whilst both Booking.com and Agoda have committed to making it easier for people to differentiate certified products and experiences on their websites, the reality is that currently, 36% of travellers don’t know that sustainable accommodation options exist, 32% of travellers say they can’t find any sustainable accommodation options and 31% say they don’t know where to look for this type of accommodation. Not to mention that staying in sustainable accommodation makes up only one part of the visitor experience.
That’s why Ecotourism Australia has recently launched its brand-new Green Travel Guide – making it easier than ever for travellers to find certified ecotourism experiences around Australia. It’s also why conversations with buyers and other organisations at ATE this year addressed the need for more in-depth consumer research into the demand for sustainable travel options beyond accommodation.
Perhaps most importantly, though, findings like these highlight the need for certified ecotourism operators – those which have achieved certification through Ecotourism Australia’s ECO, Respecting our Culture or Climate Action certification programs – to talk about their certification and what it means to their visitors. As Aristotle once said, “Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.”
Operators: you are already doing. Now it’s your turn to teach.
[Cover photo: Under Down Under]
 Booking.com’s 2021 Sustainable Travel Report: https://globalnews.booking.com/bookingcoms-2021-sustainable-travel-report-affirms-potential-watershed-moment-for-industry-and-consumers/
 Agoda Sustainable Travel Trends Survey: https://www.agoda.com/press/agoda-sustainable-travel-trends-survey?cid=1844104