Although the pandemic has largely prompted travel to take a backseat for the last year, the race to widespread vaccination may be opening the gate for future jet-setting. Beyond mask-wearing and vaccination passports, travel post-pandemic will look far different, with many travelers more willing to invest in socially and environmentally responsible trips than ever before.
A recent survey commissioned by IHG Hotels & Resorts, an international hotel company, found that the pandemic has forced many travelers to reevaluate their priorities. Almost 4 in 10 respondents (38%) based in the U.S. reported that they expect to be more mindful of their travel habits than they were before the pandemic, actively choosing ethical or sustainable brands and connecting with communities they visit.
Pandemic prompts shift to more socially and environmentally conscious travel
Pandemic fatigue has travelers itching to take their next trip — but with new priorities in mind. The majority of Americans report that the pandemic, and 2020 as a whole, have increased their awareness of their own social and environmental impact, especially when traveling. This sentiment is particularly prevalent among young adults, with 78% of those between 18 and 24 agreeing, compared to just 27% of those ages 55 and older.
When it's safe to resume travel, respondents say they plan to make the following adjustments to their travel habits in an effort to be more socially and environmentally conscious:
- Spending more than 40% extra on accommodations that operate responsibly (47%)
- Staying at hotels that prioritize social responsibility and workplace inclusivity (42%)
- Avoiding activities that could be harmful to local communities (38%)
More travelers also are willing to invest in trips that promote environmental and social good. In fact, 84% of American respondents reported that getting to know a local community is a top priority when traveling abroad. A previous survey found that 76% of travelers have taken a solo trip or are interested in one in the future, further changing how people travel.
Sustainability matters — even when traveling
The pandemic may set the stage for environmental betterment, as the survey found that 82% of adults (including 66% of American respondents) are willing to act sustainably even when traveling. This may include practices such as minimizing food waste and recycling, which American respondents identified as top priorities.
The survey also found that 36% of Americans are willing to turn off the air conditioning when leaving their hotel rooms. Other sustainable behaviors mentioned include reusing towels and opting to walk short distances when exploring destinations, which could in turn cut down on vacation costs as well.
Methodology: IHG Hotel & Resorts sampled 9,000 adults across several countries — United States, United Kingdom, China, Germany, United Arab Emirates and Australia — who travel for business and/or leisure as part of their Journey to Tomorrow report. The survey was conducted online between Jan. 20 and Jan. 28, 2021.