Only 15% of global travellers typically ventured on eco-holidays in 2019 (GlobalData’s Q3 2019 Consumer Survey), but as travellers act more responsibly due to the impact of Covid-19 and a growing awareness of their own carbon footprint, this percentage will be likely to grow.

In March, the outbreak of Covid-19 was first described as a pandemic, prior to that event ‘eco holidays’ was at its peak search rate on Google Trends. As travel has been non-existent in recent months, holiday searches have fluctuated. However, over the past month, real search time for eco holidays has again begun to increase.

‘Reducing my environmental footprint’ is now a top priority for 13% of global travelers, with 19% finding this significantly more important than they did prior to COVID-19. News about a brands sustainability initiatives adopted during COVID-19 has also been widely sought after 36% of global travellers (GlobalData’s global consumer survey week 3 (8th-12th July 2020).

Accommodation sharing sites featuring rural destinations such as Airbnb, Home Away and Expedia’s Vrbo were identified as the first to note an uptick in demand in the UK. Similar trends were also seen in the US and China.

Eco-holidays have an opportunity to grow considerably as travellers search for more rural locations and aspire to visit more natural settings.

Ecotourism can no longer be considered niche

Covid-19 has brought with it long-standing changes to consumer behaviour, causing the tourism sector to stop and reflect on the impact of travel on the natural environment.

Eco-holidays have previously been associated with luxury retreats that capitalize on ‘eco-luxury’ with quality added amenities but as eco holidays gather traction, hoteliers will be judged on their sustainability standards. An operator with a more sustainable offering at an affordable price will have a competitive advantage over the other.

Certain destinations are already ahead of the game

Destinations with a quality natural product offering are already at the forefront of this trend; South America is a notable example here with an array of isolated eco-lodges across the continent.

Tourism boards across the region have already been promoting themselves as major Ecotourism destinations, urging development within this trend. This does not solely involve more developed areas such as Brazil and Argentina who have previously noted an uptick in eco-resorts, but lesser developed areas such as Bolivia and Guyana have been noted for now attracting more eco-focused tourists.

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