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An increasing share of travelers want hotels and travel companies to focus on sustainable operations and what's more, those same travelers are willing to pay more in exchange for eco-friendly options.
Nearly 6 in 10 travelers said they are more likely to choose sustainable lodging, according to a newly commissioned survey from FloWater, a Colorado-based company whose mission includes developing alternatives to single-use plastic water bottles.
The FloWater survey polled travelers with annual incomes of more than $100,000. The age of survey respondents ranged from 18 to 60 years old. The majority of respondents however (68%) were between 30 and 44 years old and over 60 years old.
More than half of travel consumers consider sustainable tourism options important when making travel purchase decisions, the survey found. Additionally, 60% would prefer to spend their money at businesses that follow best practices for sustainability.
These results represent a significant shift in the attitudes of travelers over the past decade. More than a few studies in past years have found that travelers are often reluctant to spend more on sustainable options, even when they say the issue is important to them. According to the new Flo Water survey, travelers are now prioritizing sustainable operations in their choices of travel providers and suppliers.
In fact, sustainability is as important as securing an ocean view when making vacation plans, according to the new survey.
"A decade ago, hotels would compete for guests by advertising their high-thread-count sheets, personalized service or access to private white sand beaches. Today, however, these same hotels and travel companies are just as likely to highlight their commitment to eliminating single-use plastics, the use of renewable energy sources and sustainable seafoods in their restaurants as they are their champagne brunch," says the new study.
One of the most significant challenges facing the planet and the travel industry is the massive amount of single-use plastic used around the world on a daily basis. Plastics pollute the environment, end up in the ocean and often cannot be economically recycled. This includes single-use water bottles, which are really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the plastic pollution humans create.
The Flo Water survey points out that while bottled water was once a sign of luxury, increasingly travelers are looking to reduce plastic waste and are bringing their own reusable water bottles along on travels with an expectation that they'll have easy access to filtered water sources to refill them.
To respond to this demand, some hotels have begun offering water refill stations. In addition, many tour operators have begun distributing reusable water canisters to guests at the start of a trip.
Still, single-use plastics have been and continue to be a particular challenge for the travel and tourism industry and there's much work to be done. The COVID-19 pandemic was also a major setback on this front.
A joint report released by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and the United Nations Environment Programme, for instance, says that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and related health safety concerns the demand for single-use plastic items skyrocketed.
The 2021 report, for instance, notes that according to the Thailand Environment Institute, plastic waste in that country increased from 1,500 tons to a staggering 6,300 tons per day. The same report points out that about 90 percent of ocean plastic is derived from land-based sources and the annual damage that plastics cause the marine ecosystem amounts to $13 billion per year.
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Mia Taylor is an award-winning journalist who has two decades of experience. Most recently she worked as a staff writer for...
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