How Affluent Travelers View Sustainable Tourism

Image: The sustainable travel trend grows. (photo via iStock/Getty Images Plus/RomoloTavani)
Image: The sustainable travel trend grows. (photo via iStock/Getty Images Plus/RomoloTavani)
Janeen Christoff
by Janeen Christoff
Last updated: 8:00 PM ET, Thu June 16, 2022

A new Virtuoso survey highlights what affluent travelers think when it comes to sustainable tourism.

Results illustrate that travelers remain conscious about how their travels are impacting the world and the lives of the people in the places that they visit.

Virtuoso found that more than 80 percent of respondents said that the pandemic has made them want to travel more responsibly in the future, which echoes identical findings from a survey conducted last year, showing that traveling sustainably continues to be a top priority for luxury travelers.

"The pandemic has led to an interesting phenomenon, taking sustainable travel from afterthought to forethought for travelers who are now searching for more meaning in their lives, their actions and ultimately with their spend," said vice-chair and sustainability strategist Jessica Hall Upchurch. "Travelers want to know that they, and their money, are making a difference. The pandemic disrupted the industry unlike anything before, but it also shifted priorities, resulting in a renewed commitment from travelers to safeguard the planet and each other. This conscious comeback will continue to transform the way we travel, and it reaffirms our belief that travel can be a force for good."

The survey showed that affluent travelers are willing to spend when it comes to sustainable travel. However, while cost isn't necessarily a concern, transparency is. Virtuoso found that 75 percent of travelers are willing to pay more to travel responsibly if they know how the funds are being used. Forty percent of respondents also indicated that they would be encouraged to travel more responsibly if they had guidance from a trusted source, such as a professional travel advisor, who could help them determine where to begin.

The survey also showed the top ways travelers support sustainable tourism and the top trips and destinations.

Top 5 Ways Travelers Support Sustainable Tourism

- Reduce food and plastic waste by bringing their own water bottle, carrying reusable bags, etc.

- Support wildlife conservation

- Travel during the off-season or to lesser-known destinations

- Contribute to causes that benefit the destination and community they're visiting

- Support travel companies with a strong sustainability policy


Top 5 Trips/Destinations Travelers Associate with or Prioritize for Sustainable Tourism

- Cultural tours (land-based)

- River cruising

- Heritage sites

- African safaris and ocean cruising (tie)

- Island destinations


For the latest insight on travel around the world, check out this interactive guide.

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