People are more mindful than ever about traveling consciously following the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new global survey by IHG Hotels & Resorts. The research is commissioned as part of IHG’s launch of “Journey to Tomorrow,” a 10-year action plan comprising a series of new commitments to make a positive difference and help shape the future of responsible travel.
Of the 9,000 adults surveyed across the U.S., U.K., Germany, Greater China, the UAE and Australia, 60% agreed that they want to be more environmentally and socially conscious on their travels. This is led by 69% of younger travelers (aged 18-24) compared to just 48% of those 55 and older.
It appears travelers not only intend to do more for the planet and communities around them, but they are willing to pay for it, too. The research found that consumers will spend an average of 31% more on accommodations they know operate responsibly—with 51% happy to fork out more than 20% extra a night.
Community First: Guests Connecting With Purpose
With the world traveling more locally—or not at all—right now, it seems the pandemic has made consumers more mindful about preserving and connecting with the communities around them. More than half of respondents across the globe (57%) said they care more now about doing their bit for local communities and the planet while traveling than they did 10 years ago. In fact, 46% said they are more likely to be mindful about avoiding tourist activities that have a negative impact on the local environment and communities since the global pandemic.
A total of 86% said it is important to get to know the local community when visiting somewhere new, with two thirds doing this by supporting local eateries (67%), followed by shopping locally (64%), speaking with the locals (61%) and getting involved with local tours (48%). A further three in 10 choose to stay with travel companies that offer local community programs. As for activities such as volunteering and restoration projects, young travelers aged 18-24 are nearly three times as likely to get involved when visiting another country, compared to those 55 and older.
Traveling Better for a Sustainable Future
The appetite for better, greener travel is ripe, as 82% of adults polled around the world said they are committed to taking their everyday sustainable habits with them when they travel, with using the correct waste and recycling disposal for different items taking the top spot as the number one habit.
And it seems sustainability doesn’t need to take a backseat on holidays. Hotels are a welcome spot to do better: the two most popular habits when traveling include reusing towels and walking short distances to explore the local neighborhood. And, when asked what they would avoid so they could be a more responsible traveler, 47% of respondents said they would avoid leaving the air conditioning on when they leave the room.
Journey to Tomorrow
“As we look to the future, the global response to COVID-19 reminded us what can be achieved when we come together and work towards the greater good,” said Keith Barr, CEO, IHG Hotels & Resorts. “This has made us all more conscious than ever about caring for people, communities and the planet. Journey to Tomorrow embodies IHG’s strengthened commitment to make sure we do what’s right, not just what’s needed, and we are determined to contribute towards positive social and economic change, to stand up for key issues such as diversity, equity and inclusion, and human rights, and to make more responsible environmental choices.
“A great guest experience at our hotels is inextricably linked to operating thoughtfully and growing sustainably,” he added. “So, while travel may have been temporarily paused for many, we want the next stage of our journey to be successful in every sense of the word.”
The ambitions and commitments are firmly rooted in an understanding of what is most important to colleagues, guests and partners across the world when it comes to doing business in the right way, as well as how IHG can play its part in advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals in this 10 years of action. For decades, IHG has been championing its purpose of True Hospitality, from providing skills and education to supporting young people and taking action for environmental change, to partnering with experts globally on urgent causes such as humanitarian and disaster relief efforts, according to the company.
Commenting on the Journey to Tomorrow initiative, Laurie Lee, CEO, CARE International U.K. said, “For the past decade, IHG Hotels & Resorts has demonstrated its commitment to responsible travel by working with CARE International U.K. to respond to emergencies around the world with a special focus on providing safe shelter. IHG’s support of CARE has remained firm despite the unprecedented challenges facing the travel industry—and the communities we serve—as a result of the pandemic. In the past year alone, CARE and IHG provided essential COVID-19 prevention resources to almost 5,000 people in the Bogor district of Indonesia, a region severely affected by floods and subsequent COVID-19 outbreaks.”
She added, “Furthermore, with IHG’s support, CARE helped nearly 20,000 people following Vanuatu’s devastating cyclone by providing emergency materials as well as the training and tools to rebuild homes. These life-saving humanitarian efforts are critical to helping communities respond to, and recover from, crises wherever they happen, and we look forward to continuing the next decade of action with IHG.”