Sustainable travel is on the up, according to a recent study conducted by the travel network Virtuoso, with Millennial consumers driving the trend.
Leading luxury and experiential travel network Virtuoso marked Earth Day on April 22 by revealing that its travel advisors – based in offices in North and South America, Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East – have noted increasing interest among their customers for sustainable holidays, a trend that according to the website Traveldailynews.com is set to grow.
Sustainable travel – eco-friendly practices, protection of cultural and natural heritage, and the generation of economic and social benefits for local populations – is proving especially popular among Millennials, who are three times more likely than Generation X travellers to seek out the services of companies offering sustainable tourism. Baby Boomers placed third in the survey, followed by Generation Z.
Representing a key demographic in the market, Baby Boomers remain important customers in the market, though Millennial and Generation X and Z tourists are very much its future and account for 80% of the demand for sustainable tourism, according to Virtuoso agents. Virtuoso estimates that once Gen Z comes of age, they will exceed Millennials in their support of this section of the travel market.
The Virtuoso study also revealed which aspects of sustainable tourism particularly appealed to customers, namely the reduction of plastic waste, protection of wildlife, eating of local and fairtrade produce, support for local communities, animal welfare, respect for indigenous cultures, staying at green hotels, and the conservation of coral reefs and historic sites.
“The question is no longer whether travellers care about helping to make the world a better place as part of a vacation. They do, as Virtuoso’s Luxe Report also reveals,” said Costas Christ, Virtuoso Global Sustainable Tourism Strategist. “The real question is how we in the travel industry work together to prepare for a new generation of travellers who want to have a positive impact on the places they visit.”
Virtuoso’s travel advisers also expressed concern at the dangers weighing on popular travel destinations, with climate change causing the destruction of part of the Great Barrier Reef, rising sea levels threatening coastal cities, and fragile archaeological sites such as Machu Picchu experiencing problems due to excessive visitor numbers.
Virtuoso also organises an annual event called the Sustainability Summit. Attended by industry leaders, it promotes examples of best practice in sustainable tourism.