Affluent travellers willing to pay more for sustainable experiences

Findings from Virtuoso's 2022 sustainability survey released

Soneva Jani Chapter Two

Virtuoso has released the results of a survey highlighting how some of the world’s most discerning travellers view sustainable tourism. The results found that while travel rebounds in new and innovative ways, travellers remain ever conscious of their place and impact in the world, with more than 80% of respondents indicating that the pandemic has made them want to travel more responsibly in the future.

The data echoes identical findings from a survey conducted last year, proving that travelling sustainably continues to be a top priority for luxury travellers.

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Assessing high-end travellers’ sentiment regarding purposeful travel, Virtuoso’s 2021 sustainability survey found that 78% believed it’s important to choose travel companies that have a strong sustainability policy, moving them to seek out companies committed to Virtuoso’s three pillars of sustainability: protecting the planet, supporting local economies and celebrating cultures.

G Adventures/Planeterra Foundation

In addition, 70% agreed that travelling sustainably enhances their holiday experience, and the overwhelming majority of respondents said they would be willing to visit a popular destination during off-peak seasons or opt for an alternative, less-touristed destination to help combat over-tourism. This eagerness to explore the planet in a way that protects it for future generations has persevered throughout the pandemic, and its influence is present today, Virtuoso said.

In Virtuoso’s 2022 sustainability survey, affluent consumers reported that cost is less of a factor when planning to implement sustainable travel practices, but transparency is: 75% of travellers are willing to pay more to travel responsibly if they know how the funds are being used. Travellers also expressed a strong desire for deeper knowledge and assistance with making more informed decisions around sustainable travel, with 40% of respondents saying they would be encouraged to travel more responsibly if they had guidance from a trusted source, such as a professional travel advisor, who could help them determine where to begin.

GAÏA Riverlodge, Cayo District, Belize

“The pandemic has led to an interesting phenomenon, taking sustainable travel from afterthought to forethought for travellers who are now searching for more meaning in their lives, their actions and ultimately with their spend,” said Jessica Hall Upchurch, Vice-Chair and Sustainability Strategist at Virtuoso.

“Travellers want to know that they, and their money, are making a difference.

“The pandemic disrupted the industry unlike anything before, but it also shifted priorities, resulting in a renewed commitment from travellers to safeguard the planet and each other. This conscious comeback will continue to transform the way we travel, and it reaffirms our belief that travel can be a force for good,” Hall Upchurch added.

Elang Private Residence at Bawah Reserve, Indonesia

Other findings from the 2022 sustainability survey included:

Top 5 Ways Travellers Support Sustainable Tourism

  1. Reduce food and plastic waste by bringing their own water bottle, carrying reusable bags, etc.
  2. Support wildlife conservation
  3. Travel during the off-season or to lesser-known destinations
  4. Contribute to causes that benefit the destination and community they’re visiting
  5. Support travel companies with a strong sustainability policy
Shinta Mani Wild - A Bensley Collection, Cambodia

Top 5 Trips/Destinations Travellers Associate with or Prioritise for Sustainable Tourism

  • Cultural tours (land-based)
  • River cruising
  • Heritage sites
  • African safaris and ocean cruising (tied)
  • Island destinations

Virtuoso’s commitment to sustainability spans more than a decade and includes recognition of people and entities leading the way through awards and editorial coverage, the establishment of a Sustainability Council, related training and professional development for its affiliated travel advisors, and authoring its latest Virtuoso Sustainability White Paper.

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