Majority UAE tourists "want sustainable travel" in large numbers

Sixty-six percent of respondents said that the current climate change news agenda has prompted them to take greater responsibility for their environmental impact.

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Over three-quarters (77%) of UAE travellers agree that people need to act now and make more sustainable choices in order to save the planet, suggesting that this issue remains high on their list of priorities.

Sixty-six percent of people surveyed by said that the recent climate change news agenda had influenced them to be more sustainable, but this also reveals a conundrum that travellers face when trying to be more conscious of when, where, and how they travel.

While 33% are pessimistic about the state of the environment in the next six months, 44% are pessimistic about the state of the cost-of-living crisis, leaving people unsure of how to balance their values with the necessities of daily life.

Two stories of financial stability in a world of uncertainty

The economic atmosphere has shifted dramatically over the past year, with rising prices and the climate issue at the forefront of most people's concerns. Ninety percent of vacationers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) want to green their trips in the next year. Even if the cost of sustainable vacations has decreased in recent years, nearly half of travellers still believe they must choose between the environment and their wallets.

Given their financial predicament, many respondents may place less importance on sustainable travel than on paying their obligations. 54% of current travellers are willing to pay more for travel options with a sustainable certification, increasing their expenditure to feel comfortable they are driving impact. This is in contrast to the past, when fewer people travelled and there was less of an urgent focus on conscious choices.

There is a growing awareness of the apparent trade-off between making ethical choices and financial savings, and this awareness has led to a rise in interest in sustainable travel options that offer generous incentives. Forty percent (40%) would be inspired to travel more sustainably if they earned reward points for making more sustainable choices that they could use for free extra perks or discounts through online travel booking sites, and fifty percent (50%) would be motivated to choose eco-friendly solutions if they received discounts and economic incentives.

overcoming obstacles to effect change

One common misconception about ecotourism is that it's too expensive. There have been significant shifts over the past year that indicate the difficulties of greener travel are greater than they were a year ago. Only 46% of UAE visitors are satisfied with the number of sustainable vacation options currently available, while 79% would like to see more of these options offered by tour operators.

Despite wanting to make environmentally-friendly decisions, 42% of vacationers say they don't know where to start. For instance, while the vast majority (78%) of travellers look for opportunities to immerse themselves in local culture, nearly half (42%) have no idea how to or where to discover tours and activities that would guarantee they contribute to the local community in some way.

Micro-habits for a greener vacation

The vast majority (93%) of UAE visitors agree that it is crucial to them to travel more sustainably, despite current hurdles and the tightening of budgets. According to travellers, people are taking concrete measures at home and on the road to create a greener future. Upward trends include the increased use of reusable shopping bags (55%), recycling (46%), and water bottle usage (50%).

Seventy-eight percent or more of guests say they turn off lights and appliances when they leave a hotel, and 36% say they recycle trash when they travel. Moreover encouraging is the fact that vacationers are already taking steps to form macro-level macro-habits during their trip.

To avoid the crowds, 38% of tourists now arrange their sightseeing itineraries so that they can get around on foot, by bike, or by public transportation, and 36% go on vacation outside of the high season. Almost half of vacationers (48%) say they prefer to shop at locally owned, unique establishments when they travel.

Truthfulness, confidence, and the tourism sector

Travellers nowadays are undeniably more conscientious shoppers than they were even a decade ago. More and more people are taking a "regenerative approach to travel," looking for vacations that have the most positive impact and seeking credible assurance when booking across the entire travel experience (65% of UAE travellers want to leave places they visit better than when they arrived).

Examples include the ability to swiftly filter rental car search results for fully electric and hybrid cars in over 110 countries. Or they can pick from among more than 500,000 eco-friendly lodgings for their next trip. Seventy percent said they will prioritise hotels with sustainable certifications when making future reservations, and nearly three quarters (74%) say they would feel more comfortable staying at a hotel if they knew it had a sustainable certification or logo.

Third of travellers are always on the lookout for brands that promote sustainability, and seventy-two percent are interested in learning more about why specific options are recognised as more sustainable, such as eco-friendly LED lighting and water-efficient toilets for a more sustainable stay; as a result, the travel industry must adapt to meet the changing expectations of these more conscious consumers. Although the travel industry has made great strides towards gaining consumers' trust, there is still a long way to go, as nearly one-fourth of today's travellers (35%) do not believe that the sustainable travel options labelled are truly more sustainable.

"While travel may be back climate anxiety has led to greater demand for more budget and planet-friendly options," explained Carlo Olejniczak, VP and Managing Director of EMEA.

"Travel can be a force for good, and today's travellers are proving to be the changemakers of tomorrow by embracing more environmentally friendly practises and actively seeking out meaningful experiences. We've heard you, and we're working to improve the travel experience for both tourists and the communities and ecosystems they visit with the help of our industry partners.

He also said, "More sustainable travel is an investment for the world, and we are committed to making it easier for everyone to experience travel in a more mindful and responsible way, no matter where they are on their sustainability journey."

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