IEMS - Thought Leadership Brief #73

SPRING 2023 NO.73 / THOUGHT LEADERSHIP BRIEF 2 In the reality of tourism activities not much changed, yet studies that were carried out during the pandemic indicated this time produced long-lasting effects on travellers’ priorities, to their choices, perceptions, and lifestyle habits. For instance, 40% of respondents, mostly coming from developed economies such as the UK, Australia, and Japan, claimed they wish to travel more sustainably in the new year,4 4 out 5 recognized the importance of sustainability in travel choices,5 and 40% of travellers trying to travel more sustainably cited the pandemic as the catalyst of their behavioural change.6 Moreover, in the study conducted by,7 75% of respondents wished to increase their travel by environmentally friendly modes of transportation in the future, with 20% already picking train over car for longer distances. Roughly 40% actively looked for information related to sustainability while or before or during their trips, particularly on their accommodation with 48% having already chosen a more sustainable accommodation at least once in the past year. Most respondents said they did this to reduce their environmental impact. However, the same studies mentioned above show that many travellers do not ‘walk the talk’ and when booking, they do not prioritize sustainability in their choices. Most respondents in fact are not willing to pay more for activities that give back to local communities and price remains the primary criteria for booking flights.8 Hence, travellers wish to travel sustainably but they are mostly unwilling to pay a premium for such products and services. The following analysis based on a recently published White Paper titled ‘How to Create the Sustainable Travel Products Customers Want’ presents the determinants of this ‘say-do’ gap between what consumers say and what they do when they choose their travel options. It then outlines key strategies to overcome this gap as well as possible solutions to restructure the tourism industry towards more sustainable paradigms. This brief provides additional points of analysis to better comprehend travellers’ behaviour as well as new recommendations directed at policymakers and industry associations. ASSESSMENT According to the recent white paper, there are six main determinants constituting the ‘roadblocks’ to align travellers’ thoughts when they plan an upcoming trip with their actions of choosing to book sustainable transport or accommodation choices.9 The first is the limited availability of sustainable choices having comparable aesthetics, quality, or comfort to the less-sustainable options. In other words, sustainable options at times do not appeal because they seem less comfortable, which begs the question: can luxury be sustainable? The second roadblock is the lack of consumer awareness on sustainability, on the availability of sustainable products and services, and on the challenges faced by the tourism industry to become more sustainable. The third is the lack of a reliable and trustworthy system for travellers to make their choices. Source: World Economic Forum and Accenture, 2022. 4 Skyscanner, Sustainability in Air Travel, 2021: insights/sustainability-in-air-travel. 5, 2022. Sustainable Travel Report, 2022: com/climate-community-and-choice- bookingcom-reveals-the-trends-shapingsustainable-travel-in-2022/. 6 Skyscanner, 2021. 7, 2022. 8 Skyscanner, 2021;, 2022. 9 World Economic Forum and Accenture, 2022. ‘How to Create the Sustainable Travel Products Customers Want, Traveller's thoughts while planning for upcoming travel Traveller's thoughts while making the booking Traveller claiming to seek sustainable booking options Limited availability Lack of awareness Low credibility Price premium Cumbersome purchasing experience Lack of rewards Traveller not booking a sustainability-driven trip The say-do gap is the discrepancy between what consumers say and what they do in practice Roadblocks High Low Willingness to opt for sustainable travel I care about the environment Can't find any carbon footprint information Green flight / hotel options are expensive Let's make the booking fast Green badges and offset programmes are not well defined I am not sure what sustainable options exist I will choose a sustainable alternative regardless of hurdles Say Gap Do