Sustainable travel not only benefits the environment and local communities, but it can also enhance the travel experience by providing opportunities to connect with local people and cultures and to experience the natural beauty of a destination in a responsible and meaningful way. But unfortunately, eco-conscious travellers worldwide are facing a very modern dilemma—feeling pressured to choose between cutting costs and being more mindful about making more sustainable travel choices, according to the new Sustainable Travel Research Report from Booking.com.
Insights gathered from more than 33,000 travellers across 35 countries and territories reveal that sustainable travel is top of mind for nearly two-thirds (68%) of Kiwi travellers who believe we need to act now to make more sustainable choices for future generations. Kiwis are more likely (60%) than global travellers (49%) to believe the environment will get worse in the next six months, demonstrating the high priority travellers from Aotearoa are putting on how their decisions impact the world around them as they explore it. However, the current economic climate is hampering action being taken and a majority of New Zealanders (79%) believe the cost of living crisis is also set to worsen. Over half of New Zealanders (58%) think sustainable travel options are too expensive and a quarter (29%) are willing to pay more for travel options with a sustainable certification.
Sustainability vs Spending
This leaves Kiwis with a challenge to choose between sustainability and spending, with over half (58%) believing more sustainable travel options are too expensive (up 12% from Booking.com’s 2022 data). For these respondents, sustainability and travel combined can seem non-urgent when they are worried about post-holiday bill shock.
An increasing number of travellers feeling the pinch are seeking more sustainable travel options rich in rewards, highlighting the perceived trade-off between making conscious choices, saving money and the need for incentivisation. Over half (56%) seek out discounts and economic incentives when choosing eco-friendly options, while 39% would be encouraged to travel more sustainably with reward points for making more sustainable choices, such as free extra perks or discounts through online travel booking sites.
Breaking Through Barriers to Drive Change
It’s not just cost that is a hurdle to travelling more sustainably. Half of Kiwi travellers (49%) believe there are not enough sustainable travel options, while two-thirds (66%) are expecting travel companies to offer more sustainable travel choices. Despite good intentions, 41% don’t know where to find more sustainable options, highlighting that the barriers to more sustainable travel choices are based on a perceived lack of options. For example, 70% seek authentic experiences that are representative of the local culture, yet in stark contrast, 33% don’t know how or where to find these tours and activities that will ensure they give back to the local community.
A Regenerative Mindset for the Entire Trip
Travellers are becoming more responsible consumers amid the rising climate anxiety by increasingly adopting a regenerative mindset to travel while seeking credible assurance when booking across the entire travel experience. For example, nearly half (43%) want to filter their options for those with a sustainable certification or label next time they book. In response, the travel industry is adapting to meet the changing expectations of more conscious consumers, such as those who support brands that promote sustainability (24%), as well as the 63% who are interested to learn more about why specific options are recognised as more sustainable. Kiwi travellers can now easily filter their rental car search results to quickly find fully electric and hybrid cars across 110 countries for their next trip. Or choose one of over 500,000 more sustainable options for their next stay, no matter the accommodation type.
“Booking.com’s 2023 Sustainable Travel research confirms an intersection between the current cost of living concerns and the extreme climate events witnessed in our region, which has led to a greater demand for both more budget and planet-friendly travel options,” Todd Lacey, Regional Manager Oceania at Booking.com said in a press release. “We are listening and together with our partners across the industry, we are examining every part of the trip to not only support our travellers, but to also benefit our local Kiwi communities and environments.”
Lacey says the company is “committed to making it easier for everyone to experience travel in a more mindful and responsible way, no matter where they are on their sustainability journey.”
More than 500,000 properties globally are now being recognized for their sustainability efforts on Booking.com with a Travel Sustainable badge—including over 3,000 in New Zealand.
Download Booking.com’s 2023 Sustainable Travel Research Report here.
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