Sustainability: It’s the Only Way to Fly

Sustainable travel has taken off, quite literally. TripAdvisor, an online travel operator, has surveyed 700 U.S. travellers and found that 71 percent of them will choose eco-friendly options within the next 12 months. One year ago that same figure was 65 per cent.

Another 57 percent said green travel is a constant feature of their plans while another 44 per cent said they tended to be greener at home than while they were away. Another 47 percent said they were equally green both at home and away.

The research also surveyed travelers’ perception of green claims by hotels. 44 per cent said they “mostly” believe it when hotels claim to be eco-friendly, while 32 per cent said they rarely do. 41 per cent said they need to see it firsthand to believe it while 24 percent would be convinced if the hotel produced an environmentally friendly certification.

Money is not a problem for half of interviewees, who said they would be happy to spend more money to stay at an environmentally-friendly place. 23 per cent said they wouldn’t mind spending an extra $25 per night to stay in greener accommodation, while 9 per cent said they could spend between $25-$50 extra for that. Also, the financial crisis does not seem to affect green travellers. 75 per cent of them said the economy does not affect their preference for eco-friendly travel choices.

It seems that clearer information wouldn’t go amiss, though. Sixty percent of travelers said they rarely know for sure whether hotels are truly eco-friendly while13 percent said they never do.

Voluntourism is getting bigger and 24 per cent of respondents said they would consider it while 3 per cent had already done it. 16 per cent of respondents were unfamiliar with the term.

30 percent of respondents said they would choose a destination for a trip on the basis of its green credentials. Costa Rica, famous for its rainforest coverage and wildlife, is the top destination of choice for the green-hearted. In the United States, Portland (OR) San Francisco (CA), California and Seattle (WC) are the list toppers.

Now, what are the green deeds that travellers do when away from home? Turning off the lights when not in the hotel room tops the list with 88 per cent. Participating in a hotel’s linen/towel re-use program comes second at 80 per cent. Using a hotel’s recycling facility is also popular with 57 per cent. Towel/linen reuse is favored by 58 per cent.

"Green initiatives are an increasing priority for hospitality businesses that are trying to reduce their environmental footprint," said Jenny Rushmore, director of responsible travel for TripAdvisor. "Our survey shows that TripAdvisor travelers are interested in eco-friendly practices, but hungry for more information about which green plans and policies are actually in place."

Image credit: Flickr/Guysj01