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Half of Canadian travellers view sustainability as important, but it’s not a main consideration: study



Half of Canadian travellers view sustainability as important, but it’s not a main consideration: study

Today (Apr. 23), releases new research, with insights gathered from more than 31,000 travellers across 34 countries and territories, exploring the latest consumer attitudes, priorities and influences related to sustainable travel.

While the annual research reveals a continued sense of desire and awareness, with 78 per cent of Canadian travellers confirming that sustainable travel is important to them, new insights show a sense of weariness could be emerging globally, fueled by the ongoing challenges experienced to make more sustainable travel choices. 

The recent study shows that half (50 per cent) of Canadian travellers feel travelling more sustainably is important, but not a primary consideration when planning or booking a trip, and 26 per cent even report they are tired of hearing about climate change all the time. 

With this in mind, says the opportunity for collective action is more pertinent than ever, in order to ensure that progress toward a more sustainable travel industry remains a priority.

Positive intentions meeting new challenges

Looking ahead, a reassuring 70 per cent of Canadian travellers say that they want to travel more sustainably over the next 12 months, and (40 per cent) would feel guilty making less sustainable travel choices. 

When it comes to motivators among those who want to travel more sustainably, (41 per cent) want to do so because they believe it’s the right thing to do.

However, a sense of disillusion towards making more sustainable travel choices may be counteracting those intentions, reports

New areas of exploration researched for the first time this year reveal that some Canadian travellers don’t recognize the importance of being more mindful of their impact, as one-third (29%) feel that the damage already done is irreversible and that the travel choices they make are not going to change that. 

In fact, the report highlights that a quarter (26%) don’t believe climate change is as severe as people make it out to be – a dismissal of the issue which may well be impacting travel plans. 

Moreover,  feel their time spent travelling is too precious to put sustainability at the top of their decision-making list (28%). 

Not seeing sustainability in action is also contributing to the sense of powerlessness; a third (32%) of Canadians believe that being more sustainable in a destination that is not implementing sustainability practices itself feels pointless.

Shared responsibility and the critical opportunity for industry-wide enablement

The report also highlights that the role travellers feel they can play in tackling the negative impacts of travel also highlights their expectations around collaboration. 

73 per cent of Canadian travellers say they want to leave the places they visit better than when they arrived (up from 64 per cent last year), and this year’s additional research shows 49 per cent think they themselves have the potential to counteract the social impacts of travel. 

On the other hand, 43 per cent think governments hold the most potential for countering the economic effects, and 41 per cent believe travel service providers hold the key to addressing environmental factors. 

Furthermore, 43 per cent believe that governments are responsible for educating people on the impacts of travel and tourism. 

Responsibilities extend to how consumers are being supported to fulfill their intentions. Coming across an accommodation labeled as more sustainable is more appealing to almost half of Canadian travellers (41 per cent) and consistency of certification standards is critical to identifying these options with 66 per cent agreeing that all travel booking sites should use the same sustainable certifications or labels. 

However, those interested to learn more about why the accommodation was given this label is down 15 percentage points (at 52 per cent) when compared with the same time last year, indicating a need for simple, clear communication that enables easy decision-making regardless of priorities.

Sustainable silver linings

Despite the emerging frustrations, travellers who say they are making more mindful choices also feel that more sustainable travel experiences are actually adding value to their trips. 

New areas of research in this year’s report found that 59% of Canadian travellers recognize that they are the best version of themselves when they travel more sustainably and consequently take home this positivity, just as 65% feel that witnessing sustainable practices while travelling inspires them to be more sustainable in their everyday life. 

Of those who adopted sustainable behaviors on their travels, it was seen as an enhancement for 96% who did tours or activities for authentic, local, and cultural experiences, 96% who shopped at small, independent stores, and 90% who planned their trips so that they could walk, bike, or take public transport.

“While many travellers have retained a sense of optimism and a desire to have a more positive impact, there is a critical opportunity for the industry to accelerate efforts to make those choices easier for everyone,” said Danielle D’Silva, Head of Sustainability at 

“It’s important that we continue ensuring that more sustainable options are not only readily available, but also easy to trust and understand. That’s where we believe further education, clear and consistent standards and credible third-party certification of legitimate sustainable practices across the travel experience can really help. While the signals of consumer frustration should be a concern, it’s also a reminder to maintain our focus on the impactful work we know can make a difference not only for travellers, but for communities and destinations everywhere,” added D’Silva.

To download’s full 2024 Sustainable Travel Report, visit here.

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