Topic 5 What about consumers?

Consumers are more and more sensitive to the environment and to sustainable consumption in their day to day life. Tourism is part of their consumption patterns.

In Sweden, people switched from plane to train transportation to lower carbon emissions. The anti-flying movement, named “Flight Shame”, induced an air traffic decrease of 2.5% in 2019 (to be compared to the 4% increase of world wide air traffic). A petition advocating the “Ending the Aviation Fuel Tax Exemption in Europe” registrated on 10 May 2019 by the European Commission aimed to limit one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

Will the “2021 European Year of Rail” be an opportunity for the tourists to change their habits?

The green awareness trends are here to stay. Results from (2019) showed that:

  • 55% of global travelers reported to be more determined to make sustainable travel choices than they were a year ago, but barriers include a lack of knowledge and available or appealing options when trying to put this into practice;
  • 72% of travelers believed that people need to act now and make sustainable travel choices to save the planet for future generations;
  • 73% of global travelers intended to stay at least once in an eco-friendly or green accommodation when looking at the year ahead (62% in 2016 to 65% in 2017, and 68% in 2018).

For more detailed results, consult Key Findings, from its Sustainability Travel Report (2019).

Few studies exist about the representation of sustainable tourism and what it entails. The french study of François-Lecompte et Prim-Allaz (2011) about sustainable tourism with tourism professionals and students, showed that sustainable tourism is mainly perceived as environmental tourism:

Answers to the question “What is sustainable tourism?

Type of Concern

50% Link with nature, enjoy the scenery, activities in natural surroundings

20% Use of renewable energy / waste sorting


 8% Meet local inhabitants


16% With direct distribution of resources