Consumers crave education on sustainable travel practices and products
HOUSTON – According to new research, most travelers are committed to sustainable living at home, but believe the travel industry could make it easier for them to travel sustainably by providing education about, and access to, sustainable travel products and services. AIG Travel, a world-wide leader in travel insurance and assistance services, today released findings from its 2017 Pulse Poll on sustainable travel, which garnered over 1,300 responses from travelers and followers of the brand.
“We found that most respondents were committed to sustainability overall and that they believe people should travel sustainably to preserve destinations for future generations,” said Jeff Rutledge, CEO of AIG Travel and a Vice Chairman of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). “Moreover, our findings indicate that travel agents and companies that provide information on sustainable travel and incorporate sustainable travel practices into their offerings, may enjoy higher consumer loyalty than those that don’t.”
In support of the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s designation of 2017 as the Year of Sustainable Travel, AIG Travel reissued its popular 2016 Pulse Poll on sustainable travel, both to raise awareness for the movement, as well as to record changing perceptions among consumers about its significance.
Key among the research findings:
More than 72 percent of respondents ranked their commitment to sustainable practices at home as “very strong” or “somewhat strong.”
Furthermore, nearly 66 percent of respondents agreed that anyone can “engage in sustainability during their travels.”
78 percent reported that sustainable travel is “very important” or “somewhat important,” compared to 52 percent of respondents with that opinion in 2016.
However, as in last year’s poll, only about a third of respondents reported that they “frequently” practice sustainability when they travel.
When asked who plays the most important role in helping people travel sustainably, 62 percent of respondents assigned that responsibility to “travelers themselves.” This is a significant increase from 2016, when only 37 percent shared that opinion, coming in second to respondents who felt that it was the responsibility of the travel industry.
However, the percentage of respondents in 2017 who pointed to the travel industry (as playing the most important role in helping people travel sustainably) was, at 19 percent, 17 times higher than the percentage who named the “U.S. government” and nearly triple the percentage who named “local government at the destination.”
When considering five specific ways the travel industry could make it easier for people to travel sustainably, respondents’ most frequent answer was “educate consumers about sustainable travel basics” (36 percent) followed by “incorporate sustainable travel practices into existing products and services” (26 percent).
Additionally, more than 88 percent of respondents reported that when working with businesses that promote sustainable travel – compared with businesses that don’t – they would be more likely to either “buy their products or services again” or “recommend their products or services to family and friends.”
AIG Travel also sponsors WTTC’s Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, which celebrate sustainability best practices by recognizing exceptional tourism businesses, organizations and destinations, and will be awarded this week in Bangkok, Thailand. The sponsorship and the Pulse Poll on sustainability are among AIG Travel’s ongoing initiatives to understand the barriers to sustainable travel, in order to help travelers overcome them.
In March 2017, AIG Travel distributed the 15-question Pulse Poll on sustainability to its U.S. direct marketing email list and Twitter followers. The survey received 1,352 responses from March 22 - 29, 2017.