Pollsters Opinionway conducted a wide-ranging survey on the issue of sustainable holidays, on behalf of city bus tour operator Tootbus – to capture a barometer gauge on how current attitudes to green issues were likely to shape travel trends in the future across the UK, French and Belgian market.
The survey found that domestic tourists in the UK are more aware of the issue of sustainability than their European counterparts. However, cost implications and generational differences pose barriers to the real, immediate action that is needed.
69% of UK respondents said they had heard about the concept of ‘sustainable travel’, with 41% claiming to have a strong understanding of the subject. 68% of French respondents and 65% of Belgium respondents said they were aware of the issue, however a smaller proportion claimed to have a strong understanding of the subject, at 32% and 29% respectively.
There were also clear generational differences – 82% of Generation Z (age 18-24) reported being aware of the issue compared with 60% of Baby Boomers (age 65 and over).
Responses suggested that holidaymakers already understand that eco-tourism comes with an additional cost. While 77% of UK travelers acknowledge that eco-friendly tourism is expensive, it is a cost most are willing pay.
All three markets said environmental preservation was important when choosing a holiday destination, with 85% of French respondents, 84% of British and 83% of Belgian respondents rating this as important.
Responses also suggested that holidaymakers understand that eco-tourism comes with an additional cost. When asked about choosing activities on their city break, more than two thirds of French respondents, and around three quarters of Belgian and British respondents consider sustainable tourism as expensive. This poses a barrier to choosing eco-friendly activities, with only 19% of British respondents, 17% of French tourists, and 13% of Belgian respondents saying they would still choose an eco-friendly option if it costs more than a non-eco-friendly option.
Gavin Brooking, Managing Director at Tootbus explained, “Right across the travel and hospitality industry companies are battling with the fear that raising environmental standards and improving pay and conditions for staff is going to hurt them, but what our survey has discovered is that Britons are much more aware of sustainability and want to make them part of their holiday choices. And while the generational differences are clear, it is heartening to see that the younger age groups are the ones driving change.
“But I’d like to see how far they are willing to push that awareness and desire with tourism operators. While 72% say that ‘sustainable tourism must become the only way to travel’, are they ready to boycott non-green operators, especially when taking cost into account? This is something I’m particularly keen to monitor with our future barometers. We need to start seeing real, tangible actions, even if it incurs a slightly higher cost, in order to ignite real, positive change.”
The trend for doing the right thing on holiday is reflected in the British willingness to adopt eco-friendly behaviours during a city trip. Popular measures include buying local produce (89%); eating local and responsibly, with less meat and seasonal goods (82%); travelling off-peak (82%) and choosing sustainable travel to get around the city, such as walking or cycling (79%).
For city mayors and town planners there are some interesting take-aways too. Natural attractions such as green spaces and parks, and the proximity of rivers, feature in the city-break decisions of 52% of Brits. More than half (55%) of British respondents said they would choose to visit a city in the UK, potentially a by-product of the pandemic restrictions. Tootbus has seen huge success with locals taking to its London Bar Bus, and with tours focused on content for children and around the recent Jubilee celebrations.
Tootbus, which offers planet friendly tours of iconic cities across the UK, provides travel experiences while remaining eco-friendly with clean air busses which are powered by biodiesel/euro 6. The sightseeing operator also launched the world’s first all-electric sightseeing bus in Brussels in 2021.
The research also found that British holidaymakers were more inclined to believe that the future of holidays is much more sustainable. As many as 84% of those questioned believe sustainable travel is a good way to help the environment.
For more information, click here.