Just in time for Earth Day (April 22), Virtuoso has released the results of a survey highlighting how its clients view sustainable tourism. The results indicate that travelers are cognizant of their place and impact in the world, and this has led to what Virtuoso’s vice-chair and sustainability strategist Jessica Hall Upchurch calls “the conscious comeback” as travel reopens in new and innovative ways. In fact, 82 percent of respondents said the COVID-19 pandemic has made them want to travel more responsibly in the future.
Given the biggest concern regarding travel and sustainability before the pandemic was overtourism, Virtuoso said it is encouraging to see that the overwhelming majority of respondents said they would be willing to visit a popular destination during its offseason or opt for an alternative, less-touristed destination. One thing that nearly 70 percent of consumers agreed on is that traveling sustainably enhances the vacation experience. And the desire to explore the planet in a way that protects the places they love for future generations to come is strong, particularly among affluent consumers. Thirteen percent added they would pay more to visit a popular destination.
In addition, more than three-quarters of travelers said that, when making vacation plans, it’s very important (50 percent) or somewhat important (28 percent) to choose a hotel, cruise line or travel company that has a strong sustainability policy. Thirteen percent said this hasn’t factored into their decision-making and nine percent they need more education on the topic first.
Another three-quarters of respondents (72 percent) said that they believe travel should support local communities and economies; travel should preserve a destination’s cultural heritage; and travel should protect the planet—the three of which form Virtuoso’s “three pillars of sustainable travel.” Only three percent of travelers felt they didn’t connect with any of these three maxims.
Virtuoso notes that its commitment to sustainability extends more than a decade and includes recognition of sustainability leaders through awards and editorial coverage, the establishment of a Sustainability Council, sustainability training for its affiliated travel advisors, and a new whitepaper soon to be released.