A new meta-analysis by the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) finds “increasing recognition among both travel professionals and consumers of the importance of responsible travel” and concludes that “green travel is here to stay.” CREST’s new 2014 report, The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends and Statistics, updates the first edition, published in January 2013.
The report examines a wide range of surveys and studies done in the past five years to assess consumer and industry commitment to responsible travel, that is, “travel that minimizes negative impacts, brings economic benefits to host communities, and preserves the cultural and natural resources of the destinations.” For instance, TripAdvisor surveys find that 79 percent of travelers globally “think that it’s important accommodation providers have eco-friendly practices” and 85 percent of U.S. hoteliers say they have green practices in place.
“CREST is once again encouraged to find demand for and commitment to socially and environmentally responsible travel remains strong,” says CREST Co-Director, Dr. Martha Honey. CREST’s findings coincide with continued growth of international tourism. Over the last year, both international tourist arrivals and tourism receipts grew, with the United States ranking #1 in tourism receipts and #2 in international arrivals, after France. According to the CREST analysis, tourism industry growth is being matched by growing interest in responsible travel among both leisure and business travelers, as well as travel businesses and tourism destinations.
“With more than one billion people traveling the world each year, the case and demand for responsible tourism is bigger than ever…”
Dr. Dirk Glaesser, Acting Director of the UN’s World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Sustainable Development of Tourism Programme, agrees. “With more than one billion people traveling the world each year, the case and demand for responsible tourism is bigger than ever, as both tourism stakeholders and tourists are becoming increasingly aware that the sector’s future depends on the preservation of what is essentially tourism’s own capital: pristine environments, cultural diversity, and a thriving wildlife.”
“The buildup of consumers’ socio-environmental awareness of tourism development is leading to increased scrutiny on the part of the public in destination decision-making, and a growing requirement for new tourism developments to be sustainable,” states the UN’s World Tourism Organization.
Dr. Glaesser adds that UNWTO welcomes the new CREST study and emphasizes the importance of a responsible tourism sector for sustainable development worldwide: “As UN research has clearly shown, sustainably managed tourism has great potential to boost socio-economic development and job creation while simultaneously being a force for conservation of the world’s natural and cultural heritage.” In addition, Hugh Riley, Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) noted, “More and more we’re seeing evidence that ‘being green’ has a growing public appeal. Discerning travelers around the world are seeking out vacation destinations that pay serious attention to the preservation of the environment. Consequently,” he continued, “ I believe there will come a time when the term ‘travel for green’ will become so ingrained in the psyche of vacationers, that we in the Caribbean will be proud that we got onboard and paid attention to issues that affect the more responsible use of our resources.”
Did you know? Sixty-seven percent of U.S. consumers are now looking for “greener” products, according to the 2012 study by MIT Sloan Management Review.