The idea of a holiday was pioneered by those across Ancient Rome — and we haven’t looked back since. Whether we’re holidaying across the UK or taking a trip abroad, we always look forward to our short break away from work. However, did you know that a lot of wealthy Romans took holidays that lasted two years?
Although our holidays don’t tend to be as extravagant as the Romans, more people seem to be embarking on travel adventures more than ever before with activities such as mountaineering, canoeing, zip-lining mountain biking and cycling to name a few. So much so, the Office for National Statistics reported that in 2017 there were 72.8 million visits overseas by UK residents, showing a 3% increase on the previous year. This figure is only set to increase even further after a survey of 25,000 British travelers found that 11% of respondents would like to travel more in the future.
However, trends across the travel and hospitality sector seem to be shifting which has led to a rise in alternative holidays. But what does that actually mean for holidaymakers, local communities and businesses across the globe?
The search terms ‘eco-friendly holidays’, ‘eco-friendly hotels’ and ‘green holidays’ have shown a positive pattern in the UK over recent months, which has highlighted the interest of sustainable trips abroad among British holidaymakers. Along with veganism, flexitarianism and other lifestyle choices, these types of holidays have captured the public’s attention and will likely become the norm for future generations who will be more environmentally conscious.
According to the Sustainable Travel Report by Booking.com, 87% of global travellers say that they want to travel sustainably. With such high figures, it’s clear that this is a market more businesses in the hospitality and travel market should be tapping into. You could argue that sustainable travel is subject to a person’s environmental standpoint, and while this is true, the same report also revealed that 46% of people believe sustainable travel is staying in an eco-friendly or green accommodation.
There are many reasons why more people are opting for this type of accommodation though. For example, 40% said that they wanted to reduce their environmental impact. On the other hand, 34% said this was to have a locally relevant experience and a further 33% said they wanted to feel good about where they rested.
Factors that inspired sustainable travel varied among holidaymakers. 60% said that this idea sparked from taking in the natural sights from their previous trips – such as coral and rain forests. Also, 54% said that they had noticed the visible impact tourism had on places that they themselves had visited, while 47% went on to say that their decision was after seeing the positive impact sustainable tourism had on local communities. Furthermore, 32% said they felt guilty about how their holidays impact the environment.
With some package holidays being cheaper than ever before, opting for a sustainable holiday for some could come down to cost: is it affordable? As these trips tend to require fine planning and research, they could potentially be more costly than your average trip to Spain. However, 67% of travellers in the report said that they were prepared to spend up to 5% more on their travel to ensure it had a low impact on the environment.
Customers are now demanding a change in the way that they book holidays. Figures from the same survey found that four in 10 people say that booking sites should offer an eco-friendly filter. Although this doesn’t seem like a step a lot of travel sites are taking, some have began adding pages to represent these trips and advertise them publicly. As well as this, 32% of people call for an international standard that can identify eco-friendly accommodation.
If travel companies and hotels acknowledge this growing requirement from travelers now, it could keep them ahead of the competition. Hopefully, 2019 will be the year where we see more sustainable trips!
Sustainable Trip Initiatives
Although they’re not on everyone’s radar at the moment, fair trade holidays offer learning experiences like no other. Holidaymakers can integrate themselves into the communities who are behind the products we frequently buy — such as fair trade vegan chocolate!
The Meet the People Tours allow small groups of people to travel to places like India, Bangladesh, Nepal and more which makes for the perfect opportunity to discover more about sacred cultural traditions and how this differs from the west. Just like the fair trade products we buy, these trips are organised so that the people living and working in these communities are better off as a result.
This kind of experience will outperform your expectations. From visiting development projects and having your ideas of developing countries challenged, you’ll truly feel that you’re making a difference from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave. These stories will live with you for the rest of your life too, and this kind of experience will probably become the norm for your future holiday trips.