5 trends pointing to the rise of Sustainable Tourism: transforming the travel industry

Last week we were featured in the 2018 Thought Leadership study from Impact Travel Alliance and Mandala Research.

We are super excited to read that many of our own predictions and wishes are now starting to come true  – sustainable tourism is on the rise and will transform the travel industry. We would like to share some key takeaways, relevant to our perspective, from the report although we strongly recommend that you read the report in its entirety.

You want to be sustainable

Several studies make it clear that a majority of all travelers want to make more sustainable choices, meaning there is a demand for sustainable practices and offerings. This is key to move from a niche segment to a more mainstream phenomenon. The sustainable traveler also spends more tourism dollars than the average traveler so they are going to be an important group to cater to.

Sustainability is a broad concept

While environmental factors have traditionally been equated with sustainability there is now a clear movement towards a more holistic approach incorporating socio-economic and cultural factors, especially since there is huge demand for immersive and local experiences. The hospitality industry thus needs to consider a wealth of issues to satisfy an increasingly sophisticated traveler. Transparency and authenticity are key considerations.

Businesses need to be ahead of the curve

It is also clear that travelers expect the industry players to step up as well, for example hotels and restaurants. As we have seen in other industries, if a business is out of touch with the values of its target market the change to a competitor can come swiftly. The rewards for impact leaders in the travel space can be plentiful, both in terms of new business but also because sustainability means more efficiency and long term economic gain. Other industries have proven this to be a fact and the hospitality industry will surely follow.

More standardization and easy to find information 

The study shows that the major travel and booking platforms don’t filter based on sustainability (not strange given the broad nature of the concept). This has lead to to the emergence of platforms like One Planet Rating that is built ground up with sustainability as part of its DNA so that it’s easy to find just the issue you care about. Certification bodies are also trying to create a global standard that the industry can use to benchmark their sustainability efforts against. Once achieved this will be a major turning point for the whole industry.

Digital content and data is your friend

Travelers want information and tips on where to go, where to stay, where to eat and and what to do. While traditional travel literature has focused on the mass market segment, enterprising bloggers have stepped into the fray and enlightened an audience that wants a different and more enriching travel experience. You can catch up with quite a few of these bloggers here on OPR. Data about locations and businesses in the industry will be hard currency in the battle to match interest with bookings.

Full 2018 Thought Leadership study available here.

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