The pandemic has pushed the concept of sustainable tourism to the forefront of travellers’ minds, with new research released by Booking.com showing that 74 per cent of Singaporean travellers believe that immediate action is required to save the planet for future generations.
As the world of travel starts to open up again, Booking.com’s 2021 Sustainable Travel Report revealed that Singaporean travellers are more committed than ever to do so in a mindful way, with over two thirds (70 per cent) stating that the pandemic has influenced them to want to travel more sustainably in the future.
This research comes at a time where Singapore is doubling down on sustainable tourism. As travellers become more conscious about the environment and discerning in their choice of service providers, Singapore is preparing itself to seize these opportunities by pumping in S$68.5 million (US$51.7 million) into its Tourism Development Fund, for travel businesses looking to test-bed sustainable tourism offerings.
According to the findings, Singaporean travellers’ day-to-day sustainable commitments are consistent with their intentions for future trips, with 83 per cent wanting to reduce general waste, 81 per cent wanting to reduce their energy consumption (e.g. by turning off air conditioning and lights when they are not in a room) and 77 per cent wanting to use more environmentally-friendly modes of transport.
Respect for the local community is also high on the list as almost three quarters (73 per cent) want to have authentic experiences that are representative of the local culture when they travel, 84 per cent believe increasing cultural understanding and preservation of cultural heritage is crucial, and 78 per cent want to ensure the economic impact of the industry is spread equally in all levels of society.
Furthermore, 70 per cent of Singaporean travellers 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.
These good intentions are inspiring action too. Many of these sustainable pledges are coming to fruition, with Singaporean travellers revealing that while on vacation in the past 12 months, 47 per cent made a conscious decision to turn off their air conditioning/heater in their accommodation when they weren’t there, 43 per cent took their own reusable water bottle rather than buying bottled water while on vacation, and 30 per cent did activities to support the local community.
In fact, over half (55 per cent) have admitted that they get annoyed if somewhere they are staying stops them from being sustainable, for example, by not offering recycling facilities. However, there is still room for improvement as more than half of travellers are not yet thinking about the local community during their trips or taking these small steps to minimise their impact.
While a vast majority (90 per cent) of Singaporean travellers say they want to stay in a sustainable accommodation in the upcoming year, 59 per cent still believe that in 2021, there simply aren’t enough sustainable travel options available. In fact, 77 per cent of Singaporean travellers would be more likely to choose an accommodation if it has implemented sustainability practices, with a similar amount (75 per cent) thinking travel companies should offer more sustainable choices.
In terms of awareness and intentions, travellers and properties do appear to be on the same page, with new research revealing that 82 per cent of Booking.com’s accommodation partners surveyed view sustainability in the hospitality industry as being important. This mirrors the 84 per cent of Singaporean travellers who also believe sustainable travel is an important issue.
However, although three out of four accommodation partners say they have implemented sustainable steps at their property, only one-third (31 per cent) actively communicate about their efforts proactively to potential guests, with this mostly happening at the time of check-in (59 per cent), indicating that significant challenges remain to making sustainability information easy to access for travellers at earlier stages of the booking process.
To make sustainable choices easier for travellers, Booking.com is rolling out a programme to better support properties on their green 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 also currently displaying over 30 certifications officially approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, Green Tourism and the EU Ecolabel, as well as multiple hotel chain sustainability programmes. 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.