Booking.com 2021 Sustainable Travel Report: the pandemic effect generating mindful travel

We have lately reported how the COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping the way people travel and their decision-making process. Indeed, the effects of irresponsible practices in the tourism sector have become always more visible, leading critical actors in the field, such as the UNWTO and the ETC, to identify sustainability as the key element and prerequisite for a Responsible Recovery of the sector 

The recently published 2021 Sustainable Travel Report by Booking.com indicates that “the events of 2020 could be a crucial tipping point for travellers to truly commit to their own sustainable journey, both at home and during their trips”: 

  • 83% of global travellers think sustainable travel is vital, in particular, 61% say the pandemic has made them want to travel more sustainably in the future (as regards Italy, 57% of travellers involved in the survey) 
  • 84% of travellers want to reduce general waste on future trips (as regards Italy, 89% of travellers involved in the survey) 
  • 73% would be more likely to choose an accommodation implementing sustainability practices. 

Thus, the mission of supporting and enabling a sustainable recovery and development of the tourism & travel industry is being pursued also by Booking.com, which is currently rolling out a programme for properties taking the next steps towards sustainability, in addition to displaying over 30 certifications provided by the GSTC (Global Sustainable Tourism Council). 
GSTC Criteria for Hotels include several indicators of performance, divided into four pillars:
A Demonstrate effective sustainable management,
B Maximize social and economic benefits to the local community and minimize negative impacts,
C Maximize benefits to cultural heritage and minimize negative impacts,
D Maximize benefits to the environment and minimize negative impacts.  

At Twissen we observed that all the initiatives fostering and promoting sustainable tourism, such as the Booking.com programme, the GSTC Criteria and the EDEN award for destinations, focus on the critical role of a long term and holistic vision producing benefits for the local community and related networks as well as the environment. 
Moreover, even if sustainability is still not pursued by most tourists, reports and data show us that travellers’ emerging mindset is following this path, which implies that players of the travel & tourism industry willing to attract the new “responsible tourist” and be competitive in the post-COVID era, must be able to address travellers’ needs by considering sustainability not just as a final goal but as a pillar of their management and communication strategy