Australia's biggest concerns over tourism's environmental impact

Australians believe that the top two practices that could support sustainable travel are the use of renewable energy by accommodation providers and key cards to power electricity in hotels, according to a new study.

Agoda’s Sustainable Travel Trends Survey found that Australians’ No. 1 concern was overtourism, followed by polluted beaches and waterways and energy and waste inefficiencies.

The government was responsible for making changes within the sustainable travel space, according to 28 per cent of the Australians surveyed, while 19 per cent said the responsibility belonged to tourism operators and 18 per cent said it was an individual responsibility.

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When it came to holding governments most accountable, those in Indonesia and the UK were most likely to do so (36 per cent), China followed not too far behind at 33 per cent, with Australia and Malaysia in fourth and fifth spot (28 per cent and 27 per cent respectively).

The markets most likely to cite themselves or individuals as most responsible for making changes to travelling sustainably were Thailand (30 per cent), Japan (29 per cent) and the US (28 per cent).

Meanwhile, China (11 per cent), the UK (13 per cent), and Vietnam (14 per cent) were least likely to attribute responsibility to the individual.

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When asked what they could do at an individual level, Australians pledged to turn off air conditioners and lights when they left their accommodation, manage waste by reducing the use of single-use plastics, reusing hotel amenities such as towels and bedding and shopping at local independent businesses.

The use of renewable resources was ranked as the top practice Australians associated with sustainable travel, followed by no single-use plastics.

Buying local when travelling and a smaller carbon footprint were tied in third spot for practices associated with sustainable travel.

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Agoda chief executive John Brown said the messages were really starting to get through to the public when it came to sustainable travel.

“The messages of taking simple steps such as switching off lights and air conditioning when leaving the room or reducing waste by minimising use of single-use plastics are being embraced by the public across the globe,” Mr Brown said.

“What is also clear is that while globally the message is governments need to take the lead on managing sustainable travel, there is recognition that some responsibility lies with people’s own behaviour.

“While there are different interpretations of what practices are eco-friendly or sustainable, most of the public are keen to be able to do their part, by actively pledging to choose eco-friendly properties or make smarter environmental choices when travelling.

“One of the easiest ways to counter concerns about overtourism is to consider travelling to off the beaten track destinations.

“This past year at Agoda, we have seen a shift in travel patterns as people, limited to domestic travel, explore lesser-known areas.

“If managed well, not only does this help support independent hoteliers and accommodation providers that rely economically on the tourist dollar, it can help lessen the environmental burden on overcrowded areas.”

What are your chief environmental concerns when it comes to tourism? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

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Written by Ben



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