Overtourism, beach pollution top travellers’ concerns about tourism’s environmental impact

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Global travellers most concerned about overtourism, pollution of beaches and waterways: Agoda survey

Easy identification of sustainable eco-friendly travel options, limited use of single-use plastics and financial incentives for accommodation providers who maximise energy efficiencies are the top three measures needed to make travel more sustainable, according to Agoda’s Sustainable Travel Trends Survey.

Establishing more protected areas to limit tourist numbers and removal of single-use bathroom amenities round out the top five global measures.

The findings from the survey which polled 18,327 respondents across 14 markets was launched to mark World Environment Day 2021 on June 5. The survey also revealed that globally, overtourism, as well as pollution of beaches and waterways are the top two concerns of the environmental impact of tourism, with deforestation and energy inefficiencies (including overconsumption of electricity/water) ranking joint third.

Globally, the public considers governments most accountable for making positive environmental changes around travel, followed by tourism authorities and individuals themselves.

When it came to holding governments most accountable, those in Indonesia and the UK were most likely to do so (36 per cent). China followed not too far behind at 33 per cent, with Australia and Malaysia in fourth and fifth spot (28 per cent and 27 per cent, respectively).

The markets most likely to cite themselves or individuals as most responsible for making changes to travelling sustainably were Thailand (30 per cent), Japan (29 per cent) and the US (28 per cent). Meanwhile, China (11 per cent), the UK (13 per cent), and Vietnam (14 per cent) were least likely to attribute responsibility to the individual.

When asked what they would pledge to do better in a post-Covid travel scenario, the top responses globally were #1 manage their waste including using less single-use plastics, #2 switch off the air-con and lights when leaving their accommodation, and #3 always look for eco-friendly accommodation. Interestingly, despite overtourism being the biggest concern, going to lesser-known destinations only ranked seventh out of 10 as a pledge to do better.

The top practices most associated with environmentally-friendly or sustainable travel are #1 renewable energy and resources like solar, wind, hydroelectric and water, #2 no single-use plastics, and joint #3 animal conservation and creating a smaller carbon footprint.

Other energy-saving solutions such as key cards or motion sensors, and using natural cleaning products are the other key practices. Interestingly, buying locally sourced products, reusing bedding or towels during holiday stays and visiting off-the-beaten track destinations are the bottom three practices out of 10 associated with sustainable travel.

John Brown, CEO of Agoda, said: “We can see from the Agoda Sustainable Travel Trends Survey that the messages of taking simple steps such as switching off lights and air-conditioning when leaving the room or reducing waste by minimising use of single-use plastics are being embraced by the public across the globe. What is also clear is that while globally, the message is governments need to take the lead on managing sustainable travel, there is recognition that some responsibility lies with people’s own behaviour.

“While there are different interpretations of what practices are eco-friendly or sustainable, most of the public are keen to be able to do their part, by actively pledging to choose eco-friendly properties or make smarter environmental choices when travelling.

“One of the easiest ways to counter concerns about overtourism is to consider traveling to off-the-beaten track destinations. This past year at Agoda, we have seen a shift in travel patterns as people, limited to domestic travel, explore lesser-known areas. If managed well, not only does this help support independent hoteliers and accommodation providers that rely economically on the tourist dollar, it can help lessen the environmental burden on overcrowded areas.”

“As an industry, we need to continue to find ways to help individuals achieve these goals, be it making it easier to search and find sustainable properties on Agoda or supporting and encouraging more partners to use key cards for power, use renewable energy sources or offering carbon-offsetting options for travel products.”

Read the full article at TTG Asia: https://www.ttgasia.com/2021/06/04/overtourism-beach-pollution-top-travellers-concerns-about-tourisms-environmental-impact-survey/

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