One of our key areas of focus in tracking critical travel trends—and one of the last posts we published—before the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the travel industry, was the impact of climate change and the way it is and will affect travel decision-making.
Looking at our latest traveling consumer data on perceptions of climate change and the desire for sustainable tourism, in one year, the percent of American travelers who say that tourism has an overall negative impact on the environment has grown 10 percentage points, from 17% to 27%. Over half of American travelers now say they “sometimes,” “usually,” or “always” think about the environmental impact of their travel. In addition, 37.0% believe that climate change will have a significant impact on their leisure travel in the next 5 years.
These sentiments are particularly pronounced among younger travelers—a fact which becomes even more important when you consider how soon this group will take over as travel’s largest economic generators. Millennial and Gen Z are more conscious of the environment and thus more conscious of their behaviors—including travel’s—impact on it. Nearly 43% say that climate change has already impacted their travel decision-making in the last five years and half say that climate change will have a significant impact on their leisure travel in the next five. These travelers are also twice as likely to frequently think about the environmental impact of their travel right now.
With these clear indicators about the growing seriousness of climate change, we will continue designing our consumer research to help answer this paramount question: when will sustainability take over as the top influencer of travel decisions?