As world political leaders meet at the COP26 Summit, in a quest to find common ground on climate change, a report finds access and cost are preventing consumers from making sustainable travel choices.
Research carried out by Blackbox for Lufthansa Innovation Hub (LIH) on Asean consumers reveals 41% did not know these sustainable travel options are available, while 40% said they didn’t know how to find them.
The research comes at a time of heightened awareness in sustainability during the pandemic which awoke a realization in many consumers of the damage done to the planet.
After access to sustainable travel choices, cost was highlighted as the next barrier to opting for sustainable travel, according to the report, with 27% saying they found the options too expensive.
Even before the pandemic when interest in, and awareness of, more sustainable travel was alive, consumers were not voting with their wallets.
Research published by LIH and Hopper in early 2020 revealed consumer sentiment on sustainable travel did not translate into action.
While 78% of consumers said they wanted to see sustainable travel alternatives and 73% say they were willing to pay for them, only 1% eventually offset their emissions.
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In the latest report, consumers also highlighted transparency as a barrier to more sustainable choice with 24% saying they doubted the additional money paid for sustainable travel would go towards the stated purpose.
In addition, 23% say they find the options too constraining, 21% want more transparency on the benefits and 21% said the options were not sufficiently sustainable.
Further insight in the research reveals that 21% feel operators should carry the cost of sustainable travel while 19% say it is governments that should pay for sustainable travel.
The report concludes that it’s not fair to just blame travelers and that the onus is on travel companies to offer more sustainable choices.
It points to research from BCG that reveals 87% of consumers expect travel companies to integrate more sustainable choices.
In addition to the heightened focus on sustainable travel, the report points to research from other sources around how consumers want the world to be fairer, as well as more sustainable.
The finding speaks to a greater scrutiny from consumers of the actions of big brands and governments.
A report earlier this year from Euromonitor coined the sentiment “restless and rebellious” with consumers expecting brands and governments to take a stand on issues such as Black Lives Matter and sustainability as well as act more responsible generally.
Despite the heightened awareness of the need to change behavior, travelers are not opting to make travel less of a priority.
When ranking the most relevant sustainable travel priorities, less travel came in at 10 while taking care of local natural environments took the number one slot.
In second and third place came learning about a country’s green credentials before visiting and supporting businesses that employ and treat locals fairly.
The research also sought to find out the drivers of sustainable travel choices and reveals social credibility plays a role with 12% saying they want to share their eco-consciousness and awareness with their social circle.
However, the top driver at 21% was a responsibility to choose a more sustainable travel choice if available.
And, a further 12% say they find it morally rewarding to do something responsible.
The study was conducted on more than 4,600 Asean travelers across Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
It says the region was chosen to provide a snapshot of sustainability consciousness because sustainability is still regarded as a novelty by consumers but local travel is back to pre-pandemic levels.
A number of travel companies have announced sustainability initiatives recently from investment sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to electric vehicles and a wider corporate focus on the environment.
United Airlines unveiled its venture fund for sustainable travel in June with a plan to invest in emerging companies to help it towards its net zero goal of 2050.
Meanwhile, JetBlue has slated 2040 as its goal for net zero and expanded its use of SAF.
LIH recently unveiled Squake, a travel sustainability marketplace offering a CO2 compensation platform enabling travel and transport companies to choose sustainability initiatives from a bank of partners and projects.
And Google announced eco-certified badges for hotels that have met sustainability standards set by independent organizations.
The search giant has also joined sustainable travel coalition Travalyst, launched by Prince Harry in 2019, with other members including Booking Group, Trip.com Group and Tripadvisor.