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77% of UK residents said they’re willing to consider the environment in their future holiday plans

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49% of UK residents say COVID-19 has raised awareness of the environmental impact caused by travel. 18% say seeing wildlife recover during lockdown has inspired them to be more eco-friendly. 40% say COVID-19 has made it more difficult for people to be environmentally friendly when travelling.

Nearly half (49%) of UK residents said that the impact of COVID-19 has raised awareness about the impact holidays and travel have on the environment, recent research by iCarhireinsurance.com has revealed.  

With dolphins returning to waterways of Venice and cities seeing pollution-free skies, 77% of Brits look to consider the environment in their future holiday plans.

The survey questioned 2,000 UK residents on their holiday habits and opinions about conscientious travel. It revealed that COVID and the impact of nationwide lockdowns has had a big influence on people’s attitudes towards the environment, and the effect the tourism industry has on it.  

When questioned what has inspired them to consider the environment more when travelling for a holiday, the most common responses were COVID-related. 18% said they plan to be more eco-friendly after seeing wildlife recover in popular tourist destinations during lockdown, and 15% say the reduction in travel pollution during COVID has inspired them to be more environmentally friendly. A further 14% said that COVID has made them more appreciative of the environment.  

Other influences, such as influential figures (9%), the media (8%), charities (7%), environmental protests (7%), social media (4%) and politicians (2%), were much less common. 

This new outlook brought about by COVID has led to many people in the UK saying they will be more eco-friendly when travelling in the future. One-quarter (25%) said they’re willing to holiday domestically, and a further 25% say they’ll even go on holiday less to reduce their environmental impact. A full breakdown is included below: 

(% who said they would be willing to do the following to lessen the environmental impact of their holiday) 

  • Be mindful of their energy use – 26% 
  • Holiday domestically – 25% 
  • Holiday less frequently – 25% 
  • Travel by public transport – 21% 
  • Use alternative transport to flying – 21% 
  • Not travel to destinations as far – 20% 
  • Pack lighter to reduce fuel usage – 19% 
  • Book eco-friendly accommodation – 17% 

Based on the responses, the UK as a collective would be willing to pay £3.36 billion to offset the carbon emissions of their holidays.

While raising awareness of environmental issues is a positive to be taken from the pandemic, it’s also brought a number of challenges with it. 

36% said COVID has made being environmentally friendly less of a priority to them and 15% said limited destinations have made it more difficult to be environmentally conscious when booking a holiday. With travel restrictions in place since March, 17% said their need for a holiday is simply more important to them than being environmentally friendly.  

Ben Lynam, Head of Communications at theTravelFoundation commented on the research: “We are seeing a significant shift towards environmental consciousness as the pandemic accelerates a trend that was already gathering pace. Concern about the future, a slowing of pace and the need to find less crowded places have translated into demand for outdoor experiences and trips that have low impact, or ideally a positive impact on the environment. Smart businesses and destinations that intentionally respond to this shift will recover quicker and stronger.” 

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