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Booking.com seeks to bridge gaps in sustainable travel

The aggregator reveals its plans to take accommodation partners and travellers on a shared sustainability journey.

Booking.com, the global digital marketplace for travel, is betting big on sustainability. It is helping listed hotel and home accommodation partners to become more sustainable by sharing guidance, insights, and best practices. The educational material is being provided through booking.com’s Partner Hub.

As part of the green programme, booking.com currently displays over 30 certifications officially approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), Green Tourism, and the EU Ecolabel, as well as multiple hotel chain sustainability programs. Concurrently, Booking.com has been encouraging its accommodation partners to update their sustainability information, across 32 best practices spanning five key categories: waste, energy and greenhouse gases, water, supporting local communities, and protecting nature. The programme has had an encouraging start. Several properties have already started sharing some of their sustainability information with Booking.com, which can be viewed on the Sustainability initiatives’ banner on each of their property pages.

bridge, boys, river, cycles, eco tourism, sustainability
booking.com is enabling greener travel with the special ‘sustainability initiatives’ banner on its web pages. Image: Pexels/Archie Binamira.

Ritu Mehrotra, Regional Manager, South Asia at Booking.com says,“We constantly encourage our partners to identify, implement and share their sustainability practices. Thereafter this information is highlighted on our platform to make sustainability a transparent and easily identifiable part of our customers’ decision-making process.”

Part of Booking Holdings Inc, Booking.com connects millions of travellers with a range of transportation and accommodation options. The digital marketplace is available in 44 languages and offers more than 28 million total reported accommodation listings, including more than 6.5 million listings of homes, apartments, and other unique places to stay.

Booking.com’s eco-friendly drive is based upon six years of research which have been aggregated into annual sustainable travel reports.

Sustainable Travel Report 2021

The latest edition of the report is based upon a global survey conducted in March 2021. The online survey received responses from nearly 30,000 people across 30 countries. Each of the respondents was at least 18 years of age; had travelled in the last 12 months and intended to do so this year.

According to the survey, 88 per cent of the Indians who took it, state that the pandemic has motivated them to travel more sustainably in the future. More than half of Indian respondents have already started making positive changes at home in terms of recycling and reduction of food waste.

man, dog, mountain, flask, travel
As per the latest survey by booking.com, more than half of Indian travellers recognise that refillable water bottles are a practical way to eliminate single-use plastics. Image: Pexels/Roman Odintsov.

For future trips, over 80 per cent of Indian travellers express their desire to reduce general waste and energy consumption (starting with switching off power to non-essential appliances while they aren’t indoors). A similar proportion of respondents are in favour of switching to more environmentally friendly modes of transport such as walking, cycling or public transport over taxis or rental cars.

Softer and more deep-rooted manifestations of travellers’ commitment to sustainability include the preference for authentic experiences that are representative of local culture. An overwhelming majority of travellers desires the economic benefits of their travel spends to be evenly distributed. They also plan to visit less popular destinations to expand the basket of travel experiences and benefit a larger cross-section of communities.

Action matches intent

During their travels in the last 12 months, nearly 50 per cent of Indian respondents made a conscious decision to turn off the air conditioning/heater in their accommodation when they weren’t there and a similar proportion of travellers took their own reusable water bottles while on vacation. More than a third of respondents undertook activities to support the local community.

representative, globe. jigsaw, woman, booking
There are still gaps when it comes to booking sustainable travel options. Image: Pexels/Wesley Carvalho.

But there is considerable room for improvement. While almost all respondents indicated a strong preference for sustainable accommodation for their upcoming trips, 26 per cent of Indian travellers didn’t even know sustainable accommodation existed, while 42 per cent mentioned that they couldn’t find any such options where they were travelling, and 35 per cent claimed they didn’t know how to find them. What is more, 56 per cent of respondents believe that in 2021, there simply aren’t enough sustainable travel options available.

It is these findings that have revealed a huge market opportunity for booking.com, leading to the unveiling of its sustainability programme.

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