ATLANTA—People are more mindful than ever about traveling consciously following the COVID-19 pandemic, reveals a new global survey by IHG Hotels & Resorts. The commissioned research is part of IHG’s launch of “Journey to Tomorrow”: a 10-year action plan comprising a series of far-reaching new commitments to make a positive difference in communities around the world and help shape the future of responsible travel.
More than half of the 9,000 adults surveyed across the United States, United Kingdom, China, the UAE, Germany and Australia—with almost two thirds in the United States—agree 2020 and COVID-19 has made them more socially and environmentally conscious about their impact on the world when traveling. For Americans, younger travelers are far more likely to agree, with 78 percent of 18-24-year-olds sharing this sentiment, compared to just 27 percent of those 55 and over.
It appears travelers not only intend to do more for the planet and communities around them, but they are also willing to pay for it too. The research found that Americans will spend an average of 41 percent more on an accommodation they know operates responsibly—with 47 percent happy to fork out more than 40 percent extra a night.
Connecting with Purpose and Putting Communities First
With the world traveling more domestically—or not at all—for now, it seems the pandemic has made consumers more conscious about preserving, and connecting with, the communities around them. More than a third of respondents in the United States (38 percent) say they will be more mindful about their travel choices following the pandemic. The number one consideration was how ethical and responsible the hotel brand is in creating an inclusive work environment, supporting jobs, providing skills training and education, and protecting human rights (42 percent), followed by avoiding tourist activities that could have a negative impact on the local environment and communities (38 percent).
Eighty-four percent of Americans surveyed say it is important to get to know the local community when visiting somewhere new, with more than half (55 percent) doing this by supporting local eateries. Furthermore, three in 10 respondents globally choose to stay with travel companies that offer local community programs. As for activities such as volunteering and restoration projects, young American travelers aged 18-24 are nearly six times as likely to get involved when visiting another country, compared to those 55 and over.
Traveling Smarter for a Sustainable Future
The appetite for kinder, greener travel is ripe. An incredible 82 percent of adults around the world, along with 66 percent of Americans, say they are committed to taking their everyday sustainability habits with them when they travel, with minimizing food waste and recycling taking the top spot in the United States as a priority.
And it seems sustainability does not need to take a backseat on vacation. Hotels are a welcome spot to practice better behaviors: for global travelers, the two most popular habits included reusing towels and walking short distances to explore the local area. And, when asked what people would avoid so they could be more responsible travelers, 36 percent of U.S. respondents said they would avoid leaving the air-conditioning on when they leave the room.
IHG’s Journey to Tomorrow
Keith Barr, CEO, IHG Hotels & Resorts, said: “As we look to the future, the global response to COVID-19 reminded us what can be achieved when we come together and work towards the greater good. This has made us all more conscious than ever about caring for people, communities, and planet. Journey to Tomorrow embodies IHG’s strengthened commitment to make sure we do what is right, not just what is needed, and we are determined to contribute towards positive social and economic change, to stand up for key issues such as diversity, equity and inclusion and human rights, and to make more responsible environmental choices. A great guest experience at our hotels is inextricably linked to operating thoughtfully and growing sustainably. So, while travel may have been temporarily paused for many, we want the next stage of our journey to be successful in every sense of the word.”
The ambitions and commitments are firmly rooted in an understanding of what is most important to colleagues, guests and partners across the world when it comes to doing business in the right way, as well as how IHG can play its part in advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals in this important 10 years of action. For decades, IHG has been championing its purpose of True Hospitality, from providing skills and education to supporting young people and acting for environmental change, to partnering with experts globally on urgent causes such as humanitarian and disaster relief efforts.
Commenting on IHG’s Journey to Tomorrow, Laurie Lee, Chief Executive Officer, CARE International UK said: “For the past decade, IHG Hotels & Resorts has demonstrated its commitment to responsible travel by working with CARE International UK to respond to emergencies around the world with a special focus on providing safe shelter. IHG’s support of CARE has remained firm despite the unprecedented challenges facing the travel industry—and the communities we serve—because of the pandemic. In the past year alone, CARE and IHG provided essential COVID-19 prevention resources to almost 5,000 people in the Bogor district of Indonesia, a region severely affected by floods and subsequent COVID-19 outbreaks. Furthermore, with IHG’s support, CARE helped nearly 20,000 people following Vanuatu’s devastating cyclone by providing emergency materials as well as the training and tools to rebuild homes. These life-saving humanitarian efforts are critical to helping communities respond to and recover from crises wherever they happen, and we look forward to continuing the next decade of action with IHG.”