U.S. travelers are more familiar with sustainable travel terminology than they were two years ago but remain unwilling to pay more for green travel options, according to the July version of travelhorizons, the quarterly consumer survey co-authored by the U.S. Travel Association and Ypartnership.
The percentage of American travelers who consider themselves "environmentally conscious"—78 percent—has not changed since 2007; however, the report notes a significant increase in the percentage who report familiarity with the term "carbon footprint" (from 12 percent in July 2007 to 54 percent in July 2009). Awareness of the term "green travel" also improved from 9 percent in July 2007 to 22 percent in July 2009. Despite these increases, only 9 percent of consumers say they are willing to pay more to use travel service suppliers that offer eco-friendly options for travelers, and only 3 percent have purchased a carbon offset when booking travel.
"Although consumers are reluctant to pay more to support green travel service suppliers, they are definitely paying attention to those who are green, even in this down economy," says Peter Yesawich, chairman and CEO of Ypartnership, in a statement. "Travel service suppliers should therefore continue to adopt green practices that have a minimum impact on consumers’ wallets."
Among consumers who would pay higher rates or fares for eco-friendly options, 39 percent would pay as much as a 5 percent fare or rate premium to an environmentally responsible supplier, and an equal percentage would pay 5 to 9 percent more.
Other key findings of the survey:
• While consumers believe travel service suppliers should be good stewards of their environment, over half (54 percent) also believe that individuals themselves have the greatest responsibility for preserving and protecting the environment.
• Six out of 10 travelers say they believe that environmental programs by travel service suppliers could have a positive effect on the environment.
• Half of consumers will continue to patronize "green" travel service suppliers regardless of an economic downturn.
• Less than one-third of respondents say it is easy to find out about environmental policies and initiatives of travel service suppliers.