A report entitled “The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends and Statistics 2020” was recently released by CREST, a leading not for profit organization in the sustainable tourism industry. In this comprehensive report, researchers compiled the latest data and information about COVID-19, the climate crisis, and pathways to a sustainable recovery from a broad array of independent sources. In an effort to make this information more accessible, ITC has provided a condensed list of the most significant statistical data. This recent research overwhelmingly indicates the growing importance of sustainability for the tourism industry’s economic recovery.
The Negative Impacts of COVID-19 on the Tourism Industry
- The World Travel and Tourism Council calls the impact of COVID-19 a “sharp escalation in the economic loss to the world economy,” with $2.7 trillion in travel and tourism GDP lost in a best case scenario and $5.5 trillion in a worst case scenario.
- The STR found that globally, hotel occupancy bottomed out at 18% during the week of March 28, down 77% from the prior year, but it has since increased 124% from this low as of August. Comparing 2019 figures to May 2020 data, STR found that hotel occupancy was down as much as 96% in Italy, 68% down in China, 67% down in the United Kingdom, 59% in the United States and 48% in Singapore.
- As of December 2019, Indigenous Tourism was a 1.9 billion dollar a year industry, recently outpacing even mainstream tourism with a growth of roughly 20% per year. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, in a matter of weeks we’re forecasting losses – at minimum – of $900 million in direct revenue, 500 businesses closing and 12,000 jobs being cut.
- A new report from the World Travel and Tourism Council shows that wildlife tourism generates five times more revenue than illegal wildlife poaching worldwide. Thanks to tourism, an elephant is worth 76 times more alive than dead; India’s tiger population has increased in major part because a single wild tiger is worth $750,000 annually in tourism; and several experts agree that gorillas are alive in Rwanda right now because of tourism. Other similar studies abound for pandas, one-horned rhinos, and wolves. Unfortunately, due to a decrease in tourism dollars, poaching has started to rise again in certain regions of Africa.
- A Destination Analysts survey on American traveler sentiment from August finds that 64.1% of travelers responded, “no way—I won’t be flying,” when asked about their feelings around taking a commercial airline flight in the next month. When asked about travel plans next year, “three-quarters of Americans have at least tentative trip plans right now. Just 25% say they have no plans to travel through 2021.
The Effects of Climate Change Will Worsen the Crisis Recovery
- The climate awareness group Protect Our Winters compared snowfall data with skier visits from 2001 to 2016. The group found that, during the five years in that span with the lowest snowfall, fewer skiers meant $1 billion in lost revenue and 17,400 fewer jobs compared with the average ski season.
- A recent survey from Destination Analysts finds that both predicted natural disasters and a general higher frequency of extreme weather events in some destinations would cause travelers to plan a trip to a different destination. Many travelers are particularly concerned with coastal destinations. Climate change is on the minds of many American leisure travelers. In fact, half (50%) say that they expect it to impact their travels in one way or another at some point in the next five years, says the researchers of a recent Destination Analysists Survey titled “The State of the American Traveler.”
The Value of a Green & Sustainable Recovery
- According to a 2019 MMGY survey, “33% of American travelers indicate they are willing to pay 10% higher rates and fares on travel service providers who demonstrate environmental responsibility.” Researchers believe that these conscientious travelers are likely to take more trips and spend more on vacations than non-conscientious travelers. The same survey reveals “13% of travelers’ behaviors were influenced by perceptions of a provider’s efforts toward environmental sustainability,” a 5% increase from 2018.
- A recent study performed by NYU’s Stern’s Center for Sustainable Business found that “50% of growth from 2013 to 2018 [in purchases of consumer packaged goods] came from sustainability-marketed products.” Products that had packaging marketed as sustainable grew 5.6 times faster than those that did not.
10. Travelers are prioritizing trip experiences that involve “spending time with loved ones (68.1%), getting away from crowds (57.6%), and enjoying nature (53.1%)”. Others reported that they would be more attracted to sustainable regions in the coming years.