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    Do Travelers Really Want to Minimize/Offset Their Eco-Impacts?

    By Keith R | September 20, 2007

    Topics: Climate Change, Environmental Protection, Personal Choices, Sustainable Tourism | No Comments »

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    Lonely Planet says that they do. LP is a publisher of popular travel guides and related travel services.

    In LP's most recent annual survey of travelers, covering 24,500 people worldwide, 93% said that they would consider environmentally-friendly travel in the future, a majority are worried about the carbon emissions from flying, and 79% would consider offsetting their greenhouse gas emissions in their future travel.  A surprising number (43%) choose a more radical option than just carbon offsets, such as paying a carbon tax or imposing an annual "carbon allowance" each traveler must fit their travel plans within.

    How much stock to put in these survey results?  Well, as Joel Makower ably put in his recent discussion of the Green Gauge reports, such surveys are better at measuring good intentions and issue awareness than they are at predicting what the consumer will actually do when he plops down his hard-earned cash.

    You also have to bear in mind who conducted the survey.  LP got its start as the "backpackers' bible," and despite expanding in recent years its focus and its audience, those backpackers, low-budget travelers and off-the-beaten-path types remain their core constituency.  Such travelers often tend to be more environmentally conscious than the casual work vacation or school break traveler, and much more likely to utilize public transportation rather rent a car and stay in hotels with ceiling fans instead of air conditioners.  In other words, the carbon footprint of their travel may already be lower (and thus easier to offset) than that of other travelers — users of Fodor's guides, for example. 

    They are also the travelers whose cash most destinations in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) will miss less than those from package tours, or the pampered and/or luxury-seeking tourist so many LAC destinations are courting so heavily these days.

    All that said, the survey results seem to confirm what the Caribbean tourism industry has already surmised and started seeking to counteract: that tourists are increasingly aware of the greenhouse gas impact of their travel and desiring more and more to offset it.  LAC travel agents, tour operators, hotels and airlines need to provide their customers easy and credible ways to calculate and offset the probable carbon impact of their vacations in LAC. 


    From Lonely Planet:

    Lonely Planet survey reveals travellers seek sustainable options

    A new global survey by Lonely Planet reveals that travellers are keen to make significant changes to their behaviour to travel sustainably.

    Lonely Planet’s annual Travellers’ Pulse survey, which polled over 24,500 people worldwide, showed 84% of respondents said they would consider offsetting their emissions in the future, where only 31% had done so in the past.

    One of the strongest changes for the future was in volunteering. A huge 79% of respondents said they would or might volunteer overseas in the future, with only 25% having done so in the past.

    70% of travellers said they had purposefully travelled in a low-impact way in the past, (for example catching a bus rather than flying) and over 90% of people said they would or might do so in the future.

    Travellers also have good intentions when it comes to protecting the environment. Although 36% of people had never purposefully considered the environment in their past travels, 93% of people said they would or might purposefully partake in environmentally friendly travel in the future.

    A Lonely Planet spokesperson said it was encouraging to see travellers embracing change, “The survey reveals that 73% of respondents feel that travel is ‘in their blood’, so its fantastic to see that travellers are consciously considering their impacts, and are willing to alter their actions to protect the destinations they love. It will be encouraging to watch whether these intended behaviours follow-through.”

    The survey also revealed that the majority of travellers are worried about carbon emissions from flying, with only 7% saying that they did not think aircraft carbon emissions were a concern.

    In the survey, respondents were given several options and asked to choose the one that they would primarily support for being most effective in reducing emissions from flights. While offsetting came out on top, with a quarter of all votes, surprisingly 43% chose one of the more radical options: boycotting flying for other less damaging modes of transport; airlines reducing the number of flights; increasing flying costs via a carbon tax; or everyone having an annual carbon allowance into which they must fit their travel.

    Activity or interest has been a strong reason for travel in previous Travellers’ Pulse surveys. This year it was even stronger with 32% saying activity was their main purpose for travel, highlighting the growing trend towards exploring niche experiences rather than simply visiting destinations for sightseeing.

    Lonely Planet has encouraged responsible travel since its first guide was published more than 30 years ago, and in recent years has stepped up its sustainable travel advice. Recently, Lonely Planet released a new volunteering handbook called Volunteer: A Travellers Guide to Making a Difference Around the World, and in November 2007 Lonely Planet’s new Australia guide will feature a new GreenDex – a quick-reference index of sustainable accommodation, tours and experiences.

    Lonely Planet’s annual Travellers’ Pulse Survey was conducted online at and via 49 partner websites, and is arguably the world’s most authoritative independent travel survey. The survey’s 24,500 respondents were from 144 countries. 

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