Research Shows More Travelers Looking for Sustainable Options

Research Shows More Travelers Looking for Sustainable Options

Interest in sustainable travel is on the rise. (photo via horstgerlach / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Travelers care more about sustainability, but are they willing to pay for it?

Choosing to travel with companies that promote their sustainable actions is an easy sell. But charging a fee at places like hotels and restaurants to support sustainability is less popular.

According to new research from MMGY, an increasing number of travelers consider a company’s environmental efforts when making travel decisions. This has increased over the last year when, in 2021, 15 percent said it was a consideration and, in 2022, 20 percent of leisure travelers indicated it was impacting their choices.

There are differences between generations. Millennials are the most concerned about environmental impact followed by Gen-Z travelers.

Six in 10 travelers are willing to pay more to companies that demonstrate more environmental stewardship. That number has held steady between 2021 and 2022. While travelers are willing to pay more, they aren’t willing to pay too much more. Twenty-seven percent said that they they would pay between one and five percent more, and 22 percent said they would be willing to pay six to 10 percent more. Over 10 percent more was less popular with just 13 percent willing to pay between 11 and 25 percent more to companies demonstrating environmental responsibility.

Younger generations, those with children and those with higher incomes are the groups most willing to pay more to companies that are environmentally friendlier.

Paying more is not terribly popular, but when it comes to changing how we travel in order to reduce environmental impacts, there is overwhelming support.

Eighty-one percent of those surveyed said that they would be willing to change travel behavior to reduce impact on the environment. That is down slightly from 2021, which registered at 83 percent.

While paying more to companies that demonstrate environmental responsibility and changing travel habits to support the environment are popular, paying a nominal fee to reduce environmental impact at restaurants or hotels and resorts is nowhere near as popular.

Forty-two percent of travelers are willing to visit destinations in the off-season to avoid overcrowding, and 36 percent would use fewer single-use plastics while traveling. But just 21 percent are willing to pay $5 per night as a hotel fee to fund environmental and sustainability efforts in a destination.

Thirty percent of travelers would be willing to drive rather than fly, and 25 percent would book trips with environmentally friendly hotels and companies, but just 20 percent would pay a one percent fee at a restaurant to fund sustainability programs.

This varies by generation. Boomers were more willing to drive rather than fly and visit destinations during the off season. Millennials and Gen-Z were the most likely to book with environmentally friendly companies. They are also more likely to be okay with paying extra fees at hotels and restaurants to support sustainability programs.

Nearly a majority of travelers believe that climate change will impact where they travel with 48 percent saying that will happen. Broken down by generation, 64 percent of Millennials say climate change will have an impact. Forty-seven percent of Gen-Z and 43 percent of Gen-X agreed. Thirty-five percent of boomers believe climate change will impact their choice of destinations.

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