Many Want to Travel Sustainably, only a Few Do.


Most of us travel. Whether it’s for business or leisure, we can’t escape it. The beautiful thing about travel is that it connects us to people from around the world, introducing us to new ideas and cultures. Yet with the increased pressure from Western media and activists fighting for our planet, we are slowly starting to think about traveling less – or differently.

With the imminent threat of global warming, we’ve become much more cautious about the way we live, yet travel still remains one of the biggest pollutants. How do we protect our Earth and travel at the same time? The answer: sustainable travel.

Sustainable travel is our answer to protecting the environment, while continuing our discovery of new places and cultures. Although this is great news, it’s important to note that, while we want to travel sustainably, only a few of us do. According to Travel Agent Central, 87% of people say they want to travel sustainably, but only 39% actually do travel sustainably.

Before we get into discrepancy between these two figures, let’s quickly look at what it means to travel sustainably.

Elements of Sustainable Travel

 Sustainable travel encompasses four important aspects. According to GreenMatters, these are:

1. Protecting the environment

2. Connecting with the locals

3. Respecting the heritage and culture

4. Supporting the local community

A sustainable traveler will try to hit all of these points. And while protecting the environment is extremely important, the local community is also a significant part of being sustainable. Although it might seem a lot to think about, being a sustainable traveler is easier than you think if you have the right motivation.

What’s Stopping Travelers

With 87% of people surveyed saying they would like to travel sustainably, and only 39% doing so, it is clear that there are a few issues holding people back. According to a survey by Travel Agent Central, there are five main factors for this substantial difference.

1.     Cost (42%): Although there are many sustainable options out there, the cost is still high and some cannot afford to pay the extra cost.

2.     Information (32%): Sustainable travel is a relatively new trend, and many are either unaware of the option, or simply do not know how to travel sustainably. 

3.     Time (22%): Some find that traveling sustainably is too time consuming as it would require traveling by land rather than air, for example.

 4.     Destination (22%): Another worry is that sustainable travel limits the places you can visit.

5. Comfort (20%): The myth that being sustainable means giving up luxury. Our clients Cempedak and Nikoi Island are definitely putting an end to this myth.  

These five concerns are what hinder the 48% of people who wish to travel sustainably, but have not yet opted to do so.

What Now?

If we want to help others travel more sustainably, we need to start looking at solutions. The most important solution is discussion, according to biologist and tourist expert, Wolfgang Günther. With discussion comes information and knowledge that can educate people who are unaware of sustainable options.

The more information available, the more people will understand how to travel sustainably. As communication professionals, we have a platform to communicate with others, offering assistance and leadership to those who have indicated their desire to travel sustainably.

So, let us get back to work!

Author: Quinn Donovan