There is increasing recognition among both travel professionals and consumers of the importance of responsible travel and “strong evidence” that responsible travel is good for the economic bottom line, according to analysis by Center for Responsible Travel.
CREST’s study, The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends and Statistics, examines a wide range of surveys and studies done in the past five years to assess commitment to responsible travel, that is, “travel that minimizes negative impacts, brings economic benefits to host communities, and preserves the cultural and natural resources of the destinations.”
For instance, a Harvard Business School study found that companies that adopted environmental, social, and governance policies in the 1990s outperformed those that did not, while a Nielsen survey found that 66 percent of consumers globally prefer to buy products and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society. This extends to travel: 93 percent of Conde Nast Traveler readers said that travel companies should be responsible for protecting the environment.
CREST’s findings coincide with two important milestones in the growth of the travel industry: for the first time ever, international tourist arrivals surpassed one billion in 2012 and international tourism receipts exceeded $1 trillion in 2011. According to the CREST analyses, tourism industry growth is being matched by growing interest in responsible travel among both leisure and business travelers as well as travel businesses and tourism destinations.
In March, TripAdvisor announced that it was extending its GreenLeaders program, which highlights hotels and B&Bs engaging in environmentally friendly practices, into 19 new markets in Canada and Europe, including including the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
The hotel ratings site launched GreenLeaders in April 2013, following consultation with the United Nations Environment Programme, the US Green Building Council, Energy Star, and the International Center for Responsible Tourism Canada. The company has since awarded the status to over 3,700 hotels and B&Bs, ranging from small, independent establishments to multinational brands including Marriott International, Hilton Worldwide, Select Registry and Coast Hotels.