Sustainability does not mean sacrifice

Oliver Batten

Oliver Batten

Lead – Destination Strategy & Sustainability

Changing the narrative around making sustainable choices.

In the realm of modern travel, the idea of sustainability has become more than a mere consideration—it’s a decisive factor for many travellers.

In the ‘State of Travel 2023’ report released by SKIFT Research in July, it highlights that the majority of travellers are seeking and choosing sustainable travel options.

  • 75% of travellers have a desire to choose sustainable travel in the future.
  • 69% are actively seeking sustainable travel options.
  • 59% have chosen some form of sustainable travel in recent years.
Source: WTTC: A World in Motion Shifting Consumer Travel Trends in 2022 and beyond, 2023.

However, the same report also reveals the two major challenges to sustainable travel:

  1. A quarter of travellers perceived sustainable travel options to be too expensive.
  2. Low visibility – a majority of survey respondents did not find any website messaging around sustainable travel or options.
Source: Group, Sustainable Travel Consumer Report 2022, Jan 2023

There is no denying that some sustainable options, whether it is for accommodation, airlines or an experience, can have a higher price tag on them when compared to a “standard option”.

But what if we could look at this through a different lens and start to change the narrative around what these sustainable (and sometimes more expensive options) really have to offer?

There are a few themes that I think might help shift this narrative:

1. Quality Experiences

Firstly, embracing sustainable tourism doesn’t have to mean compromising on the quality or enjoyment of travel experiences. On the contrary, a sustainable option can often mean more immersive, authentic interactions with local cultures and environments.

2. Empowering Local Communities

Central to sustainable tourism is the upliftment of local communities. By choosing destinations and experiences that support local economies, travellers contribute to the vitality and vibrancy of the places they visit. This isn’t just about being a responsible traveller; it’s about becoming a part of a place’s story and positively impacting its future.

3. Education and Engagement

The journey towards sustainable tourism is also educational. Travellers become more aware of the environmental and socio-cultural impacts of their travel. This awareness fosters a deeper appreciation of our global community and encourages responsible travel practices.

With the above in mind and low visibility of sustainable messaging being flagged as a major challenge for travellers, it is clear that narratives around sustainable tourism are crucial.

Through compelling story telling, the tourism industry has a huge opportunity to highlight how sustainable choices often enhance travel experiences, offering unique and meaningful adventures.

I always like to share some examples of who I think is doing this well, so here they are…

  • Lady Elliott Island Eco Resort
    A world-leading, award-winning ecologically sustainable tourism operator dedicated to protecting and enhancing Lady Elliot Island, the Great Barrier Reef and surrounding communities.
  • Region X
    Ecological Sustainable Tourism Experiences with Minimal Environmental impact, without compromise.

Both certified by EcoTourism Australia, these organisations are a great example of how to share your sustainability story while creating spectacular experiences that have minimal impact on the environment. Jump online and check them out!

The shift towards sustainability is not just a personal choice but a global movement. As we look towards a future where sustainable travel and living are the norms, we must remember that this transition does not require us to give up the things we love. Instead, it invites us to reimagine and reshape them in a way that benefits both us and the planet.

Put simply, sustainability does not equate to sacrifice. It is an opportunity to enrich, innovate, educate and cultivate a lifestyle that is both fulfilling and responsible. By embracing sustainable tourism, we open ourselves up to a world of travel that is not only enjoyable but also purposeful.

Destination Marketing Store is a proud member and supporter of EcoTourism Australia.
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