An analysis on the ‘pandemic effect’ which explains how intentions for ‘sustainable travel’ come to fruition 83% of global travelers think sustainable travel is vital, with 61% saying the pandemic has made them want to travel more sustainably in the future Even though 3 out of 4 accommodation partners say they have implemented sustainable steps at their property, more than half (52%) of Korean travelers say they didn’t even know that sustainable properties existed Booking.com revealed key findings from its 2021 Sustainable Travel Report*. Marking its sixth year, the annual report contains insights gathered from more than 29,000 travelers across 30 countries, including 1,000 from Korea. COVID-19, the ‘turning point’ for sustainable travel The research suggests that the pandemic has been the tipping point for travelers to finally commit to their own sustainable journey, with 72% of global travelers (Korea 71%) believing people have to act now to save the planet for future generations. As the world of travel starts to open up again thanks to vaccination and travel bubbles, travelers are more committed than ever to do so in a mindful way, with two thirds (61%, Korea 64%) stating that the pandemic has influenced them to want to travel more sustainably in the future. 61% of Korean travelers admitted that the pandemic has shifted their attitude to make positive changes in their everyday lives, which was 12% higher than the global average of 49%. In addition, travelers’ day-to-day sustainable commitments are consistent with their intentions for future trips with 84% (Korea 81%) wanting to reduce general waste, 83% (Korea 84%) wanting to reduce their energy consumption (e.g. by turning off air conditioning and lights when they are not in a room) and 79% (Korea 68%) wanting to use more environmentally friendly modes of transport such as walking, cycling or public transport over taxis or rental cars. Respect for the local community is also high on the list as 84% (Korea 81%) believe increasing cultural understanding and preservation of cultural heritage is crucial. Furthermore, 69% of global travelers and 71% of Korean travelers will go as far as avoiding popular destinations and attractions to ensure they aren’t contributing to overcrowding challenges and helping do their part to disperse the positive benefits of travel to less frequently visited destinations and communities. Breaking down the sustainable travel ‘information barriers’ Fortunately, it’s not just good intentions. Many of these sustainable pledges are coming to fruition, with travelers revealing that while on vacation, 45% (Korea 52%) made a conscious decision to turn off their air conditioning/heater in their accommodation when they weren’t there. However, while 43% of global travelers took their own reusable water bottle, rather than buying bottled water while on vacation, only 25% of Korean travelers did the same, implying there is still lots of room for improvement despite the positive signs. While 81% of travelers say they want to stay in a sustainable accommodation in the upcoming year – which is a notable increase from 62% in 2016, when Booking.com first conducted its sustainable travel research and up 7% from 74% in 2020, just prior to the pandemic – barriers still remain. In fact, when looking just at the 40% of global travelers (Korea 45%) that said they have not stayed in a sustainable property in the past year, 36% (Korea 52%) said they didn’t even know that they existed, 32% (Korea 29%) said they couldn’t find any options where they were traveling and 31% (Korea 44%) said that they didn’t know how to find them. In fact, 49% of travelers (Korea 61%) still believe that there simply aren’t enough sustainable travel options available. In terms of awareness and intentions, travelers and properties do appear to be on the same page, with new research revealing that 82%** of Booking.com’s accommodation partners surveyed view sustainability in the hospitality industry as being important. This mirrors the 83% of travelers (Korea 77%) who also believe sustainable travel is an important issue. However, although 3 out of 4** accommodation partners say they have implemented sustainable steps at their property, only one-third (31%**) actively communicate about their efforts proactively to potential guests, indicating that significant challenges remain to making sustainability information easy to access for travelers. Closing the gap, step by step As part of Booking.com’s mission to make it easier for everyone to experience the world and as a leader in travel, the company believes they have an important responsibility to make sustainable choices easier, both for accommodation providers and travelers. That’s why the company is currently rolling out a program for properties that will support them in taking the next steps to become more sustainable, no matter where they might be on that journey. This includes sharing guidance, insights and best practices with properties via various educational opportunities, including handbooks and dedicated content, all available via the Booking.com Partner Hub. In connection, Booking.com is currently displaying over 30 certifications officially approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), Green Tourism and the EU Ecolabel, as well as multiple hotel chain sustainability programs. The company is sourcing this information directly from the certification bodies and displaying it on the property pages of partners who hold one of these established third-party certifications. To complement this, Booking.com is also encouraging its accommodation partners to update their sustainability information, which includes 32 impactful practices across five key categories: waste, energy and greenhouse gases, water, supporting local communities and protecting nature. Their sustainability information can be viewed on the ‘Sustainability initiatives’ banner on each of their property pages. “Over the six years we’ve been conducting this research, it’s been inspiring to see awareness of the importance of sustainable travel consistently grow, both with our customers and now with our partners, too,” said Marianne Gybels, Director of Sustainability for Booking.com. “A small change like eliminating single-use plastics or switching to energy-efficient LED light bulbs might seem insignificant in isolation, but multiplied by millions of travelers and properties around the world, these small steps all start to add up to a much bigger potential positive impact.” To download Booking.com’s full 2021 Sustainable Travel Report, please visit the Booking.com global media room. Methodology *Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 29,349 respondents across 30 countries and territories (1,000 from South Korea). In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have traveled at least once in the past 12 months and must be planning to travel in 2021, and be either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey was taken online and took place in March 2021. **Research conducted by Booking.com with a representative sample of 3,390 accommodation providers from Australia, Austria, Brazil, China, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States. The survey was taken online and took place in April 2021.