HOUSTON - According to a new poll, most travelers agree that traveling sustainably is important, but many may feel it's easier said than done. AIG Travel, a worldwide leader in travel insurance and assistance services, released the results of its latest Pulse Poll on sustainable travel, which received more than 1,500 responses from travelers and followers of the brand.
Chief among the findings: Most respondents (52 percent) said it's important to travel sustainably, but more than one third (35 percent) reported difficulty doing so, with 50 percent of those citing "not knowing how" as the top barrier. This lack of awareness was reflected elsewhere in the survey, with 71 percent of respondents defining sustainable travel as "minimizing environmental impact" despite the World Tourism Organization's broader definition of the term, which includes economic and social elements.
"International travel is more accessible today than ever before, and with this access comes a responsibility to positively impact the places we visit," said Jeff Rutledge, CEO of AIG Travel and a Vice Chairman of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). "This Pulse Poll is one of many efforts to help us understand potential barriers to sustainable travel, so we may help travelers overcome them. The results suggest a major opportunity for consumer education around this important cause."
In April, AIG Travel sponsored WTTC's Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, which celebrate sustainability best practices by recognizing exceptional tourism businesses, organizations and destinations. In August, the travel company will partner with award-winning family travel blogger Heather Delaney Reese of "It's a Lovely Life" to host its first #WhereNext? Twitter chat on sustainable travel, educating travelers on the basics of the movement and exploring key survey themes, including:
Catch 22: In the survey's open-ended section, 41 respondents questioned whether air travel is at odds with sustainable travel. The group will discuss ways to mitigate the environmental impact of air travel, including purchasing carbon offsets, opting for public transportation once at one's destination, and practicing social and economic consciousness.
Team Effort: When asked who had the most power to help people travel sustainably, respondents held themselves (37 percent) and the travel industry (45 percent) about equally responsible. The group will discuss ways in which these parties may work together to promote responsible tourism.
Golden Rule: When asked what sustainable travel means to them, 49 respondents wrote in with variations of "treating others the way you'd like to be treated" and "leaving destinations better than you found them." The group will explore ways to bridge the gap from these abstract, but commendable, goals to concrete actions to support them.
In May 2016, AIG Travel distributed a 12-question Pulse Poll on the topic of sustainable travel to its U.S. direct marketing email list and Twitter followers. The survey received 1,508 responses from May 3 – May 10, 2016.