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Booking.com Reveals How The ‘pandemic Effect’ Could Finally Tip Sustainable Travel Intent Into Impactful Action

77% of Kiwi travellers think sustainable travel is vital, with 61% saying the pandemic has made them want to travel more sustainably in the future

  • 81% of travellers want to seek out accommodation that has reputable third-party sustainability accreditation, but 49% say there simply still aren’t enough sustainable travel options available in 2021
  • 3 out of 4 global accommodation providers say they have implemented at least some kind of sustainability practices at their property, only one-third communicate about their efforts proactively to potential guests
  • To make sustainable travel choices easier, Booking.com is now showing third-party sustainability certifications and details on a range of 30+ impactful practices in place at hundreds of thousands of properties around the world

New research released today from Booking.com suggests that the pandemic has been the tipping point for travellers to finally commit to their own sustainable journey, with 68% of Kiwi travellers believing we have to act now to save the planet for future generations.

Booking.com’s 2021 Sustainable Travel Report reveals that more than three quarters (77%) of Kiwi travellers think sustainable travel is a vital part of achieving this, with two thirds (61%) stating that the pandemic has influenced them to want to travel more sustainably. The timing of the report makes the findings even more poignant, as the travel industry looks to rebuild amidst the ongoing pandemic, says Todd Lacey, Area Manager of Booking.com New Zealand.

“Our research uncovers how the travel hiatus has opened New Zealanders’ eyes to the impact, both positive and negative, that their trips can have on local ecosystems and communities around the world,” says Lacey. “At Booking.com we believe travel is a force for good, but it has to be done in the right way to ensure we are protecting the planet for future generations.”

According to the report, the desire to live in a more environmentally conscious way isn’t limited to travel; almost half (49%) admitted that the pandemic has also shifted their attitude to make positive changes in their everyday lives, with recycling (49%) and reducing food waste (37%) being the top priorities at home.

These day-to-day sustainable commitments complement Kiwi travellers’ intentions for future trips with 80% wanting to reduce general waste, 79% wanting to reduce their energy consumption and 75% wanting to use more environmentally friendly modes of transport such as walking, cycling or public transport over taxis or rental cars.

Breaking down sustainable travel barriers

Fortunately, it’s not just good intentions. Many of these sustainable pledges are coming to fruition, with travellers revealing that while on holiday in the past 12 months, 40% made a conscious decision to turn off their air conditioning/heater in their accommodation when they weren’t there, 53% took their own reusable water bottle, rather than buying bottled water, and 38% did activities to support the local community.

Yet Kiwi travellers feel their own efforts may be hindered when on holiday with over half (58%) admitting they get annoyed if their accommodation stops them from being sustainable, for example by not offering recycling facilities. Further, despite 81% of travellers pledging to seek out accommodation that has reputable third-party sustainability accreditation, barriers still remain with 49% of travellers believing there simply still aren’t enough sustainable travel options available in 2021. However this may be due to lack of communication rather than lack of action on the part of accommodation providers.

Research revealed that 82%** of Booking.com's accommodation partners surveyed share the sustainability sentiment of travellers. However, although 3 out of 4** accommodation partners say they have implemented sustainable steps at their property, only one-third (31%**) actively communicate about their efforts to potential guests, with this mostly happening at the time of check-in (59%**). With half of Kiwi travellers still believing ample sustainable travel options are not available, this suggests that significant change is needed to make sustainability information accessible at earlier stages of the booking process.

Closing the gap, step by step

As part of Booking.com’s mission to make it easier for everyone to experience the world and as a leader in travel, the company believes they have an important responsibility to make sustainable choices easier, both for accommodation providers and travelers. That’s why the company is currently rolling out a program for properties that will support them in taking the next steps to become more sustainable, no matter where they might be on that journey. This includes sharing guidance, insights and best practices with properties via various educational opportunities, including handbooks and dedicated content, all available via the Booking.com Partner Hub.

In connection, Booking.com is currently displaying over 30 certifications officially approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), Green Tourism and the EU Ecolabel, as well as multiple hotel chain sustainability programs. The company is sourcing this information directly from the certification bodies and displaying it on the property pages of partners who hold one of these established third-party certifications.

To complement this, Booking.com is also encouraging its accommodation partners to update their sustainability information, which includes 32 impactful practices across five key categories: waste, energy and greenhouse gases, water, supporting local communities and protecting nature. From this global roll-out, hundreds of thousands of properties have already started to share at least some of their sustainability information with Booking.com, which can be viewed on the ‘Sustainability initiatives’ banner on each of their property pages. While it’s still early days, this is an important first step in providing more sustainability information in a transparent way to consumers, ultimately making it easier for them to start making more sustainable travel choices.

“As as a leader in travel, at Booking.com we believe we have an important responsibility to make sustainable choices easier, both for accommodation providers and travellers. While there is much, much more to be done, we are optimistic about the passion and commitment we are seeing from all sides,” says Lacey.

“The more sustainable practices we can help our partners to identify and implement, the more we can experiment with how best to highlight this information to customers and ultimately make sustainability a transparent and easily identifiable part of their travel decision-making process. A small change like eliminating single-use plastics or switching to energy-efficient LED light bulbs might seem insignificant in isolation, but multiplied by millions of travelers and properties around the world, these small steps all start to add up to a much bigger potential positive impact so that together we can create a truly regenerative and responsible future for all travel.”

To download Booking.com’s full 2021 Sustainable Travel Report, click here.

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