Earlier this year, we released our Sustainable Travel Study, which shared insights into how consumers are becoming increasingly conscious about their travel choices.
In our global takeaways, we found consumers are actively looking for sustainable travel options and information and are willing to pay more to ensure they are limiting their impact. However, we know the interest in and meaning of sustainable travel can differ from region to region and country to country.
In this post, we take a deeper dive into the data from the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, where consumers showed an even stronger interest in sustainability while traveling when compared to global averages. We also investigate the similarities and differences of sustainable travel preferences within the region, by looking at data from Japan, India, China, and Australia.
APAC consumers seek sustainable options while traveling
Globally, we found that 90 percent of travellers want to see sustainable options when they are looking to book a trip. This trend was even stronger in the APAC region, with 95 percent of travellers indicating interest in sustainable travel options. This is especially notable when comparing to the other surveyed regions, including the Americas at 74 percent looking for sustainable travel options, and Europe at 69 percent.
Taking a deeper dive into the APAC country data, India and China emerge as the countries showing the most interest in sustainable travel, with 98 percent of Indian and 96 percent of Chinese consumers saying they look for sustainable travel options. While the numbers aren’t as high, Australia and Japan still show strong interest in sustainable travel, with 72 percent and 56 percent respectively saying they look for sustainable travel options.
Increasing importance of sustainable travel in Australia and Japan
Australia and Japan may be behind India and China in terms of overall interest in sustainable travel, but the importance of the topic is quickly growing. Comparing sustainable travel choices from the past 2 years to future plans, Australian and Japanese consumers show significantly increased interest in looking for sustainable travel options, while China and India stay relatively steady.
Compared to previous trips, Japanese consumers are 280 percent more likely to stay in accommodations or lodging that are actively lessening environmental impact and 125 percent more likely to use environmentally friendly transport for their next trip. For their future travels, Australian consumers are 74 percent more likely to use providers who declare a commitment to sustainable practices. Additionally, on their next trip, 63 percent of Australians plan to support local communities by buying from local stores and restaurants, rather than chains.
APAC consumers will pay a premium for sustainable travel
APAC consumers are aware that sustainability comes at a cost, and they are willing to pay more to ensure that their trip is sustainable. Overall, 100 percent of APAC consumers said they would be willing to pay more for sustainable travel.
APAC consumers’ willingness to pay more doesn’t just equate to a few extra dollars. As a whole, the region is willing to pay 41 percent more for sustainable travel options, led by Indian consumers who are willing to pay 44 percent more. While Japanese and Australians aren’t willing to pay as high of a premium, both countries are still willing to pay 25 percent-plus more for sustainable travel.
In terms of what they are willing to pay extra for, 56 percent of APAC consumers said they would be willing to pay more for sustainable food and activities, closely followed by additional transportation and lodging costs.
APAC consumers are willing to sacrifice convenience and comfort for sustainable travel
APAC consumers are also willing to make sacrifices if it means that they can be a more sustainable traveller. 96 percent of APAC consumers are willing to make sacrifices for sustainable travel, higher than both the Americas and Europe.
53 percent of APAC consumers are willing to give up convenience and comfort while traveling, closely followed by 50 percent who are willing to sacrifice time traveling to a destination and accommodation convenience.
Looking by country, Australian and Japanese consumers are more likely to sacrifice the time it takes to travel to a destination than other factors.
The meaning of sustainable travel for APAC consumers differs by country
Sustainability has become a common term in many spaces, but the meaning of the word can differ from person to person and region to region. Across the APAC region, supporting local economies, supporting local cultures and communities, and lessening environmental impact are considered aspects of sustainable travel, according to about 70 percent of respondents.
Looking at the country-specific data, different patterns emerge. In Australia, over 3 in 4 consumers believe that lessening environmental impact is a part of sustainable travel. Respondents from Australia were less likely to say that supporting local economies, cultures, and communities were part of sustainable travel. Fewer than 40 percent of respondents saw visiting lesser-known destinations as a part of sustainable travel.
Supporting local cultures and communities was the most popular response for Indian consumers, with 74 percent indicating that this is sustainable travel. Chinese respondents were split between lessening environmental impact and supporting local economies as the most popular answers.
In Japan, supporting local economies as a part of sustainable travel had the highest percentage of respondents, at 50 percent. Less than 40 percent of respondents saw supporting local cultures and communities or visiting lesser-known destinations as part of sustainable travel.
APAC is looking for sustainable travel information from a variety of sources
More than 2 in 3 APAC consumers are looking to learn more about travel options with low environmental impact and options that support local cultures and communities. More than half want to see this information from local destinations, tourism, or visitor resource groups. Just under half of respondents want more information about sustainability from accommodation or lodging companies and transportation providers.
Preferred sustainable travel destinations differ by country
Where APAC consumers are looking for sustainable travel options differs by country. Over 50 percent of Chinese and Indian respondents are looking for sustainable options in major cities, compared to less than one-third looking for travel options in lesser-known towns or resorts.
However, Australian and Japanese consumers are the opposite. 56 percent of Japanese consumers and 46 percent of Australians are looking for sustainable travel options in a lesser-known destination. Only 18 percent of Japanese respondents are looking for sustainable options in a major city.
How is Expedia Group supporting sustainable travel?
As a global company powering travel, we realize we have a duty to promote sustainability. To do our part, in 2019, Expedia Group partnered with UNESCO and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to launch the UNESCO Sustainable Travel Pledge. Since then, The Pledge has quickly expanded globally, counting now over 9,000 properties across more than 60 countries, and signatories in APAC such as Bayan Tree Group and Accor Hotels Mantra Brands, among others.
The Pledge aims to promote sustainable travel, community resilience, and heritage conservation globally. By signing the Pledge, properties, destination marketing organizations and more publicly commit to actions that will reduce the environmental impact of their businesses, raising awareness to travellers and helping them make more sustainable travel choices. Hear more from UNESCO Sustainable Tourism Expert, Peter DeBrine, in our new podcast, Why sustainability means the world to travellers.
Recently, Expedia Group joined the Travalyst Coalition in support of its mission to empower travellers with better information and encourage travel providers to improve the sustainability of their offerings. Expedia Group also signed the Glasgow Declaration for Climate Action in Tourism, which aims to align urgent climate action across tourism stakeholders to cut tourism emissions in half over the next decade and reach Net Zero emissions as soon as possible before 2050.
Specifically in APAC, Wotif, Expedia Group’s domestic travel focused brand, is doing its part in encouraging sustainable travel, via the brand’s ongoing commitment to support First Nations tourism. In doing so, the brand hopes to educate Australian travellers to understand and respect the practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, to be mindful of the impact tourism has on the traditional custodians, communities and land in which we live.
For more insights and about sustainable travel, download our full Sustainable Travel Study. Subscribe to our blog and stay tuned for more regional insights from this study and more.
Celine Wickerhoff is Director of business development, Expedia Group Media Solutions