Most travel advisors say they value companies that support sustainable travel, according to new research by TravelAge West, part of its Need to Know series and produced in partnership with Tourism Cares. The survey of nearly 200 advisors shows that 49% feel it is “very important” to work with these suppliers, and another 39% feel it is “somewhat important.” Only 4% of respondents say it is not important at all.
“We find ourselves at a time when people are so busy with business that they sometimes feel they don’t have time for sustainability,” said Jessica Flores, chief experience officer for Tourism Cares. “They are disregarding that driving sustainability is good for business and essential for its longevity.”
Most advisors (57%) also feel there is strong consumer demand for sustainable travel options, while 52% say sustainability and/or responsible travel is a key part of their future business strategy.
Currently, 48% of advisors say some of their current bookings are with sustainable travel partners, and only 25% say most or all are with these suppliers. Over one-third (37%) say they are currently booking more with sustainable travel partners than in the past (compared to 29%, who are not booking more). However, 61% expect to book more with sustainable travel partners in the future than they do now.
“We envision all suppliers having sustainability at their core, and making decisions with sustainability in mind would just be a natural part of travel businesses,” Flores said. “It is evident in the attitude of advisors that our vision might one day become reality.”
Nearly three in four respondents (73%) feel it is somewhat or very difficult to find information on a suppliers’ sustainability practices. Interestingly, the challenges to partnering with more community-led/sustainable tourism operators are fairly evenly split: Thirty-two percent say clients are not expressing a demand; 20% don’t know what to look for, or feel it’s too confusing; 18% feel information is just too hard to find; 14% feel they don’t have a reliable source helping them find organizations they can trust, and the same percentage (14%) feel the sustainable companies themselves don’t know how to work with travel advisors/the tourism industry.
Better access to information seems to be especially important, as 76% of respondents feel more education about climate change and different sustainable travel solutions would be beneficial to their business.
“Education is key, and the sustainability journey is never-ending,” Flores said. “There are so many challenges for us to take on that sometimes it can feel defeating or overwhelming. But it starts with understanding the basics, continuing to build that foundational knowledge. Tourism Cares is here for the advisor community to help build connections to experts in thought leadership, and to provide the training and resources to support that sustainability journey on our Meaningful Travel Platform.”
Advisors are also extremely interested in fam trips to help educate them about sustainable tourism — 87% would be interested in participating in a fam with this theme.
Respondents were divided on the focus areas they would be most interested in learning about. The top three responses are accessibility and inclusion in travel and tourism (24%); how to measure the impact of a trip (23%); and safety for LGBTQ+ communities (21%).
Need to Know Survey Series
“Need to Know” is a research series from TravelAge West that tracks the responses of advisors as they relate to various travel trends and topics. This survey recorded the responses of 188 advisors across the U.S. Click here to see more Need to Know stories.