Thursday, June 20, 2024

Sustainable travel report suggests Kiwis ‘weary’ about making eco-friendly choices – NZ Herald

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Half of New Zealanders surveyed said sustainability was not a priority when booking travel. Photo / Unsplash

An annual study has been released and the results are in: most Kiwi travellers value sustainability but for many, it’s not a priority on holiday.

There are many things Kiwis want to think about when planning a trip. We want to think about the incredible restaurants we’ll dine at and museums we’ll explore, the iconic attractions we’ll pose before and the beaches we’ll sunbathe on.

One thing we increasingly don’t want to think about is how the holiday we’re saving up for and counting down to will impact the planet, according to a recent study from Booking.com.

Results from Booking.com’s ninth annual Sustainable Travel report found Kiwis are less likely than the rest of the world to prioritise sustainability when planning travel.

The report surveyed 31,000 travellers across 34 countries and territories (including 500 Kiwis) about their plans and priorities regarding eco-friendly travel.

Of the Kiwis surveyed, 50 per cent said sustainability wasn’t a primary consideration when planning holidays, despite saying it was important. This score was higher than the global average, 45 per cent.

Over a quarter (22 per cent) of Kiwis said it was “very important” and one of the primary considerations when booking a trip. Yet, this was also below the global average of 38 per cent.

There are many reasons why Kiwis may not prioritise sustainability from the anticipated costs to the effort required to seek good options. However, a “sense of wariness” was a key factor, Booking.com’s regional manager in Oceania, Todd Lacey, said.

“While many Kiwi travellers (72 per cent) have retained a sense of optimism that travelling sustainably is important to them, our latest Booking.com Sustainable Travel report highlights some weariness could be emerging,” he said, adding that the effort required to make sustainable choices was fuelling this fatigue.

Todd Lacey, regional manager of Booking.com in Oceania.

Do sustainable choices make a difference?

With interest in sustainability inevitably comes greenwashing, as brands and companies seek to capitalise on consumer preferences without doing the hard, expensive work of meaningfully changing practices.

For this reason, seeking out a hotel, tour company, transport option or activity that is actually good (or at least, less bad) for the environment or community takes work. Work, that can feel a little tiring and pointless if you believe your small trip to Bali won’t really make a difference.

Of those surveyed, 25 per cent said they felt their travel choices would not make a difference to environmental damage that is “already done”. A quarter of Kiwi travellers said they didn’t believe climate change was as severe as people suggested; an “alarming” finding according to Booking.com.

Constantly hearing about or considering the environment in daily life could also lead people to desire holidays free from climate concerns, as 29 per cent of Kiwis said they were “tired of hearing about climate change all the time”. Meanwhile, 25 per cent said they felt holidays were too precious to compromise by making socially or economically responsible choices.

Opportunity for industry to make things easier

Sustainability fatigue meant the tourism industry should do more to make sustainable options easier to spot and more appealing, according to Lacey.

“While many travellers from New Zealand have retained a sense of optimism and a desire to have a more positive impact, there is a critical opportunity for the industry to accelerate efforts to make those choices easier for everyone.”

The majority (63 per cent) of Kiwis said all travel booking sites should use the same sustainable certifications or labels to make it easier to compare companies.

Travellers claim it would be easier to choose sustainable hotels, such as Desa Potato Head in Bali, if sustainable labels or awards were standardised.
Travellers claim it would be easier to choose sustainable hotels, such as Desa Potato Head in Bali, if sustainable labels or awards were standardised.

Doing good pays off, say sustainably-minded travellers

In the meantime, the effort required to make socially and environmentally considerate choices on holiday did pay off, according to the surveyed travellers.

More than half (52 per cent) said they were the best version of themselves when they travelled more sustainably and 62 per cent said witnessing sustainable practices on holiday inspired them to be more sustainable in daily life.

Most travellers who shopped at locally-owned stores and prioritised public transport said this “added value” to their holiday.

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