Sustainable Tourism 

Practical advice to help tourism & hospitality businesses become more sustainable




Consumer research shows the importance of sustainability is a mainstream, mass market booking channel - they have already noticed the increased interest in more sustainable destinations and stays. Download their Sustainable Travel Report 2021 for full details. Here's a quick summary of some of the key points, which were quite encouraging!

Top priorities in visitors’ everyday lives include:

  • Recycling – 49%
  • Reducing food waste – 38%
  • Walking or cycling short distances to avoid public transport/cars – 20%
  • Avoiding single-use plastics – 28%

 Biggest impact concerns for visitors include:

  • Excess waste – 43%
  • Threats to wildlife and natural habitats – 38%
  • Overcrowding popular sights or destinations – 34%
  • CO2 emissions – 22%

More findings: 

  • 63% of visitors believe we must act now if we want to save the planet for future generations, ensuring sustainability.
  •  78% of visitors want to actively reduce their energy consumption (for example, switching off lights and air conditioning when not in a room).
  • 72% of respondents want to use more environmentally friendly modes of transport such as walking, cycling, and public transport.
  • 78% are eager to reduce their water usage by reusing towels or not requiring daily room servicing.   
  • 74% of tourists re committed to reducing their environmental impact, by paying for carbon offsetting to minimise their carbon footprint 

The Sustainable Travel Report 2021 shows an increase in the percentage of international tourists who are more aware of the sustainability actions taken (or not taken) by accommodation providers in order to help protect the environment and local communities, and conserve resources.

BVA-BDRC's 2022 report Sustainability and Consumer Decision Making in the Travel Sector offers interesting insights into different market segments and their attitudes towards sustainability. 

Eco evangelists (16% of UK population – Have the outlook of needing to save the world. They are very concerned with environmental sustainability and will do all that they can to help and believe every individual and organisation should be doing the same. This group would do whatever is necessary to combat climate change issues and are willing to spend more on sustainable alternatives. Actively reducing meat consumption, avoiding unsustainable brands, and spending on alternatives.

Accidentally Green (19% of UK population) – Believe they have no personal control over the wider climate change issues. They do their bit through habitual recycling, reusing and are willing to use green alternatives, should it save them money.

Good Intentions (27% of UK population) – Worried about the environment, and actively trying to ‘go green’, however find it difficult and overwhelming to achieve. Believe that main responsibility lies with corporations and organisations instead of with them as individuals, so prefer making simple changes which won’t overly impact their life.

Affluent Hedonists (27% of UK population) – Believe that climate change exists, however don’t want it to impact on their experiences or enjoyment in life. They don’t have any intentions of changing their habits, especially after the restrictions during the pandemic. 

Climate Sceptics (11% of UK population) - May believe climate change doesn’t exist and is simply another way in which the government and higher powers can control what they do. They are not at all worried about anything to do with the environment. 

The report looked at the 'necessary nudges' needed to convince each group to do more

Eco Evangelists

Organisational changes can include offering more vegetation/vegan options, sourcing locally to reduce carbon footprint, stocking only green items to show your organisations commitment to going green.

Promote through specialist sustainable booking sites, offer options for carbon offsetting, try to cater for local tourists to discourage long distance travel.

Demonstrate how your organisation trades fairly.

Accidentally green

Organisational changes include reducing single use plastics, offering green rewards to guests with greener behaviours, using electric vehicles for any guest transport.

Behaviour changes include noting local attractions and walking routes, reusing linen and towels, and taking advantage of cheaper, off-peak visits.

Good Intentions

Organisations could make recycling and sustainable alternatives easy and visible to guests. Ensure guests are encouraged to reuse towels, refill water bottles, etc.

Ensure that you are maintaining sustainable defaults which are the most convenient for guests.

Affluent hedonists

Appeal to their ego and make sure sustainability choices will promote a positive self-image.

Organisations shoultry to make sure that any sustainability changes will make their life better/easier, such as automatic lights, thermostats, electric vehicle charging, electric scooters, etc.

Ensure guests are guided towards direct flights which are more convenient for themselves, but also better for the environment, highlight local fine dining and boutiques demonstrating how local, high-end options can be green.

Climate Sceptics

Minimise efforts and expense spent on this segment since it is probable that they will not be swayed and will stick to their typical choices and behaviours.