Booking.com has released new research that highlights a dilemma where people feel potentially forced to choose between cutting costs and being more mindful about making sustainable travel choices.
The insights were gathered from more than 33,000 travellers across 35 countries and territories, including Singapore.
At a time of general global uncertainty, travelling more sustainably continues to be front of mind for Singapore travellers, with 75% believing people need to act now and make more sustainable choices to save the planet for future generations.
The news continues to be a key influence driver for 59%, who say the recent climate change news agenda has encouraged them to be more sustainable, and yet it also speaks to a quandary facing people when it comes to being more mindful about when, where and how they travel. While 44% think the environment will get worse in the next six months, 68% believe the cost of living crisis will also get worse, leaving people unsure of what to prioritise as they work to reconcile what is important to them with the demands of everyday life.
A tale of two wallets in an unsteady global climate
The economic weather has changed drastically since last year, and the big topics at the front of people’s minds are the cost of living crisis and the climate crisis. 79% of Singapore travellers say they want to travel more sustainably over the coming 12 months, while 82% think the global energy crisis and rising cost of living is impacting their spending plans.
For some travellers, the two are mutually exclusive. With rising inflation, nearly half of travellers think that they must make a choice between sustainability and spending, with 59% believing more sustainable travel options are too expensive (up 13% from Booking.com’s 2022 data). For these respondents, sustainability and travel combined can seem non-urgent when they are worried about affording bills and the energy crisis. On the flip side, 49% of today’s Singapore travellers are willing to pay more for travel options with a sustainable certification, dialling up their spend to feel reassured they are driving impact.
As an increasing number of Singapore travellers feel the pinch, they are seeking more sustainable travel options rich in rewards, highlighting the perceived trade-off between making conscious choices and saving money, and the need for incentivisation. Nearly half (46%) want discounts and economic incentives in order to opt for eco-friendly options (up 13% from 2022) while 41% would be encouraged to travel more sustainably with reward points for making more sustainable choices that they could use for free perks or discounts through online travel booking sites.
Breaking through barriers to drive change
It’s not just cost that is a perceived hurdle to travelling more sustainably. From limited data to a perceived lack of options, barriers to travelling more sustainably appear higher than ever. 60% of Singapore travellers believe there are not enough sustainable travel options, while 73% want travel companies to offer more sustainable travel choices (up from 62% in 2022). Despite good intentions, 56% of travellers do not know where to find more sustainable options. For example, 74% seek authentic experiences that are representative of the local culture, yet in stark contrast 53% do not know how or where to find these tours and activities that will ensure they give back to the local community.
Adopting sustainable micro-habits on vacation
Despite existing barriers and the tightening of purse strings, it is clear there is a huge appetite for solutions with four in five (80%) Singapore travellers confirming that travelling more sustainably is important to them. Travellers say they are converting intent into action by taking active small steps at home, and when travelling, to drive a more sustainable future. Today, 53% use reusable shopping bags, 48% recycle waste and 51% carry their own reusable water bottle – and there has been a significant uptake in travellers adopting everyday habits on vacation in the past year.
59% turn the air conditioning off at accommodations when they aren’t there, 48% use their own reusable water bottle, 65% say they turn off the lights and appliances at accommodations when they aren’t there, while one third (31%) now recycle their garbage when travelling. Even more promisingly, travellers are making conscious choices on vacation that go beyond these everyday micro-habits. When it comes to transportation, 44% now plan their sightseeing so that they can walk, bike or take public transport, while 35% travel outside of peak season in a bid to avoid overcrowding. There is also consensus among travellers on taking the “buy local” mantra on vacation, with 34% favouring small, independent stores.
Trust, truth and the travel industry
Amid rising climate anxiety, travellers are becoming more responsible consumers, from their accommodation to their transport choices. 64% aim to leave the places they visit better than when they arrived, and travellers in Singapore are increasingly adopting a regenerative approach to travel and searching for vacations with maximum positive impact, while seeking credible assurance when booking across the entire travel experience.
For example, travellers can now easily filter their rental car search results to quickly find fully electric and hybrid cars across 110 countries for their next trip; or choose one of over 500,000 more sustainable options for their next stay, no matter the accommodation type. Nearly two thirds (64%) would feel better about staying in a particular accommodation if they knew it had a sustainable certification or label, while 61% want to filter their options for those with a sustainable certification next time they book.
In response, the travel industry must adapt to meet the changing expectations of these more conscious consumers to accommodate the 35% who are always on the lookout for brands that promote sustainability as well as the 71% interested to learn more about why specific options are recognised as more sustainable, such as eco-friendly LED lighting and water-efficient toilets. Still, with 47% of Singapore travellers today not trusting that the sustainable travel options labelled are truly more sustainable, there are huge strides for the travel industry to make in gaining the trust of consumers.
Making more sustainable travel solutions easier for everyone
Booking.com’s new features and developments include the 100% Electric tagging in search results so travellers can find and book greener taxi options in 95 cities worldwide, tagging indicating where flights are offering a relatively lower emissions option, and available public transport ticketing options in 47 cities worldwide, including London, Amsterdam, Bangkok and Melbourne.
“Although travel has resumed, Singapore travellers remain mindful of the rising costs of living and the impact of travel on the environment,” said Nuno Guerreiro, regional director, South Asia, Oceania & Chains, Booking.com.
“We’re encouraged to see that travellers are driving change by adopting more sustainable travel habits and seeking responsible experiences. More sustainable travel is an investment in the world, and we’re dedicated to making it easier for everyone to travel in a more mindful and responsible way, no matter where they are on their sustainability journey.”