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Young travelers increasingly interested in sustainable travel, report says

By Lacey Pfalz, TravelPulse
Published: February 3, 2024, 6:04am

As younger travelers begin making their own voices heard in the travel industry, a new report by the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance finds that their generation in particular is increasingly concerned with sustainability in travel.

The research, shared by TravelPulse’s sister company, PhocusWire, was conducted in partnership with global insight agency BVA BDRC and Pace Dimensions, asking travelers in nine markets across the globe, including 1,000 travelers in the U.S., what their greatest concerns were when it came to making travel decisions relating to accommodations.

While the highest factor for travelers across the globe remains the price tag, a small yet growing number of young travelers are concerning themselves with sustainability.

Twelve percent of travelers were concerned with sustainability certification; 11 percent with resource management; 11 percent with sustainable resources and another 11 percent with social factors. The largest group of sustainability-minded travelers is millennials, those who were born in the early 1980s through the late-1990s.

“Sustainability is something that now percolates across the management boards and needs to become, and is growingly becoming, a core feature in the mindset and thinking and consciousness of everybody in hotel companies,” said Tim Davis, founder and managing director of Pace Dimensions.

As even younger travelers in the next generation, Gen Z, begin to become adult travelers, too, it’s likely that more travel companies will become increasingly aware of the importance of sustainability for travelers.

For example, Contiki, the tour operator for adults 18-35, became carbon neutral in 2022 and offers merchandise that is zero-waste and made of organic materials as part of its adherence to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and its own sustainability plans.

Younger generations, then, will be the driving force for sustainable development within the travel industry, and that’s a trend that’s likely to stay for good.