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Are people becoming more eco-friendly when they holiday?

As the awareness of climate change grows, so too does the desire to be more environmentally friendly. Conserving energy, recycling plastic and eating less meat while we are at home can all make a difference, but a big player when it comes to climate change is the tourism industry. According to a study of 160 countries published in the Nature & Climate Change journal, tourism currently accounts for 8% of total carbon emissions. For countries such as the Maldives or Cyprus, this rises to between 30% and 80% of national emissions.

It’s a sizeable industry, and the impact of long-haul flights and our lavish holiday lifestyle is taking its toll. But are attitudes beginning to change? As a car rental excess insurance provider, we conducted some research to discover how environmentally friendly people are when they holiday and how conscientious they are when traveling. To do so, we questioned 1,000 Australians on their holiday habits and views on eco-friendly travel. Here is what we found:

Conscientious Travel Infographic

Committed to change

Holidays are important to many of us, but so is the environment, therefore, we wanted to find out what lengths people would be willing to go to in order to protect the environment. We found that 41% of Aussies already consider the environment when they go on holiday, and a further 59% express willingness to change their habits in future. A popular change Aussies are willing to make is being more mindful of their energy use while abroad, with 52% saying they would be willing to do this in future. Some are even willing to make more drastic changes to their holiday norms; 32% said they will look to holiday domestically more often, and 27% even said they would holiday less frequently.

While many Australians are working to reduce the carbon emissions of their holidays, 68% said they would pay extra to offset the carbon they do use. On average, they would be willing to pay 4.25% more for their holiday. According to the Global Travel Intentions 2018 study by Visa, the average holiday costs Australians US$2,745 (at current rate of exchange, this is $3,979 Aussie dollars). Multiplying the holiday cost by the percentage shows that Aussies would be prepared to pay an extra $169 for every holiday they take to offset their emissions. These results show a push from holidaymakers to become more sustainable when they travel. We all know how much we love a holiday, so the changes holidaymakers are willing to make emphasise the importance to combat climate change.

What has inspired people?

Many Australians are willing to change some of their holiday habits to be more eco-friendly during their holidays, but as the conversation of climate change has increased, what has influenced them to make this change? According to our survey, the biggest influence on Aussies is the nature and wildlife they have seen during their time away. 31% said the plants and animals they’ve come across while travelling have inspired them to reduce the environmental impact of their holiday.

30% of Aussies also said they’re worried about the future impact of climate change. Much of the growing concern for the damage we are doing to the planet is down to the work done by known activists such as David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg. The work they do is having a positive effect too, as 21% of Australians said they have been inspired to change their holiday habits due to such influential figures.

We also wanted to find out what’s most important to Aussies when they make these changes to protect the environment. Popular responses follow a similar theme, with many people showing their concern for the wildlife and nature that are being affected by climate change. 60% want to protect the local nature and plants of popular holiday destinations and 54% are worried about the welfare of animals.

Barriers stopping eco-conscious holidays

Many Australians consider the environment when they’re going on holiday, but the survey highlighted the barriers preventing them from doing more to stay sustainable. The biggest issue facing people wanting to be more eco-friendly is the higher costs. Booking eco-friendly accommodation or choosing alternative transport can often mean paying a higher price and sacrificing convenience. 43% said the extra price stops them from being more conscious of the environment.

After higher costs was a lack of information. 39% said the lack of information provided by companies about how environmentally friendly they are stops them from doing more to reduce the impact of their holiday.

A lack of information and education was a common theme in the research. Just 27% of people believe that travel companies do enough to promote environmentally friendly travel, and 64% say there isn’t enough education provided to people on how to reduce the environmental impact of going on holiday. With so many expressing a desire to be eco-friendly, support and information from travel companies could be the key to helping reduce carbon emissions from the tourism industry.

For some, the decision not to be eco-conscious is a personal preference. 29% said they prefer to holiday where they want, with exotic distant destinations being more appealing than a domestic holiday. More than one-in-eight Australians (14%) are not keen on changing their holiday habits because they don’t believe their trip away has any impact on the environment. For those who holiday rarely or domestically, it might be the case that their holiday doesn’t have a huge impact – but according to ATAG, in 2018 worldwide flights produced 895 million tonnes of CO2.

Our research shows how Australians are already doing plenty to reduce the environmental damage caused by holidays and the tourism industry. People are willing to make a greater change to their habits in the future too and with more education and affordable solutions on offer, we can all help lessen the environmental impact caused by holidays further.

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