Responsible and sustainable travel: Reaching the higher ground in 2020

Daniel Batchelor

Vice President of Communications, Amadeus

This content is only available in this language.

As travel thrives, the pressure on destinations mount! Tourism currently accounts for about 5% of global carbon emissions and 4.6% of global warming. At the same time, its positive impact also grows, supporting 1 in 10 jobs worldwide and representing 10.4% of global GDP (WTTC). 

For sure, there is a shared belief that the environmental impact of travel and tourism cannot be ignored; but are we also aware of the socio-economic challenges that our industry can bring? The interest in the topic of sustainable travel, in its wider sense, is growing. 

What is sustainable tourism?

According to UNWTO, sustainable tourism is defined as: “Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities". Maximizing the positive contribution of travel and tourism by engaging and creating opportunities for local communities while minimizing its potential negative effects on overcrowded destinations is key to make a difference in the way we travel today. 

The Sustainable Travel Report by Booking.com states that 87% of consumers want to travel sustainably and are even willing to absorb the extra costs. They believe that people need to think global and act local now, making responsible and sustainable travel choices. According to ABTA, 35% of travelers would select one organization over another based on its sustainability record and 71% of travelers think companies should offer consumers more sustainable travel choices - Booking.com. This rising demand is helping to fuel the growth of a new type of responsible and sustainable travel.

Companies are becoming more sustainable 

Since sustainability has become a deciding factor for individuals purchasing travel and accommodation, companies are adapting their offers to reflect this. From reducing plastic in hotels to the creation of sustainability-focused package holidays, consumers are being offered a wide choice when it comes to an eco-stay and is starting to hold companies accountable if they don’t meet the requirements. 

Corporations, governments, locals and travelers are all part of the travel equation too. Destination players must be responsible; travelers need to be responsible too. UNWTO predicts international tourism arrivals will surge to 1.8 billion by the end of 2030. As numbers of over-tourism rise, governments, DMOs and cities are acting by limiting the number of home rentals, like in Amsterdam and increasing day-tripper taxes, as in Venice.  

According to our recently launched “Making a positive impact on travel” whitepaper, all these challenges require long-lasting partnerships and collaboration of the different actors in the travel industry.  At Amadeus, for instance, we work with local governments and other travel companies to help optimize travel inflows and drive responsible travel growth. With our digital advertising capabilities, we can help destinations to specifically promote places off the beaten track. 

And it always comes back to the travelers themselves. Business and leisure travelers are keen to ensure that their trips have a positive impact on the globe; there is an increased interest in understanding how tourism impacts negatively or benefits a local economy. Going forward, the industry will have to improve consistency in the way our impact is measured. Responsible and sustainable initiatives can be a source of socio-economic benefits both at a local and global level. For example, offering opportunities to travelers to engage with local businesses and the community so they can make a positive contribution during their visit.  Or, developing aerodynamic airplanes. Private and public institutions will have to work together, to ensure that sustainable practices are followed and put conscious travel at the heart of the industry’s long-term growth.

Click here to know more about how technology is changing travel and Amadeus’ travel trends for 2020.


Traveler Experience, Social Responsibility, Environmental Sustainability

Do you want us to email you the latest insights?

Subscribe to updates