Responsible TourismYouGov survey finds people are peeking behind the window dressing to expose dubious sustainability claims.

Greenwashing companies can't fool travellers any longer

Travel and tourism brands play a key role in shaping the evolution of sustainable travel.
Travel and tourism brands play a key role in shaping the evolution of sustainable travel. Photo Credit: Adobe/Fotoschlick

A new report from YouGov confirms what many people suspect: the use of warm and fuzzy words like ‘eco-friendly ‘, ‘conscious’ and ‘sustainable’ won’t wash with travellers if they suspect that are being hoodwinked into supporting a particular travel brand.

The European Commission has already been on the case, accusing those who make vague and general statements about their ‘green’ claims of lacking credibility – ‘greenwashing’ as the practice is now known.

YouGov's Travel & Tourism Practice found that as consumers now look beyond the window dressing to uncover what a particular travel brand is doing to protect the environment “the financial risk to businesses of not following a path to sustainability is now much greater than the immediate rewards of doing it”.

YouGov says the sustainability trend will only continue to accelerate, and the
winners will be those who were first “to take their organisations, people, investments, innovation and customers on the journey to be more environmentally friendly and eco-conscious”.

“The more brands focus on sustainability through both amplification and action, the more consumers will know, take notice, expect and demand,” YouGov suggests.

The report stressed the importance of travel and tourism brands in shaping the evolution of sustainable travel.

YouGov data shows that almost half of all consumers across 43 countries (46%) like it when brands get involved in social issues, while more than two in five consumers worldwide (44%) say they try to buy only from socially and
environmentally responsible companies.

Actions speak louder than words

An effective sustainability programme signals that an organisation or destination aspires to more than providing a service or attracting visitors, but that it wishes to actively make a difference and inspire travellers to enjoy travel more responsibly, YouGov noted.

Sustainability campaigns and efforts need to be consistent in their strategies across countries, inclusive of staff and wider groups), authentic and trustworthy, the report found.

The ‘halo’ effect. Was also important. Partnering with other sustainable brands can showcase a collaborative affiliation and have a positive impact on the core brand.

The report is based on the latest data from YouGov’s Global Travel Profiles – a daily global travel survey. YouGov estimates the market size of responsible travellers to exceed 300 million people in the 25 countries tracked.

Responsible travellers lean toward the following trips: visiting friends and family (32%), beach (30%), culture and history (28%), combined relaxing and sightseeing / activity holidays (26%), and city breaks (24%).

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