New Research from Outside & ATTA Shows Travelers Want to Support Climate Measures

7 September 2022

In a recent consumer survey developed by the Adventure Travel Trade Association and market researchers at Outside Inc., 4,747 outdoor enthusiasts shared their upcoming travel plans along with their views on climate and travel. The survey was distributed to Outside Interactive’s media brand audiences, which include readers of well-known publications such as Outside, Running, Ski, Climbing, and many others. The majority of the respondents were from the United States, with 76% of the respondents over age 45 and 23% between the ages of 25 and 44. 

For travel businesses looking to balance their climate strategy with fears around consumer willingness to engage with climate action as part of their travel experience, the results of the study offer reassurance that travelers are ready and willing to support meaningful climate measures. 

Key findings:

  • 90% of respondents plan to travel in the upcoming year; 36% plan to travel internationally
  • Most believe they can make a difference for climate with their actions
  • Nearly 70% of respondents believe buying eco/ethical products can help when it comes to climate action
  • Well over half of each age group say they would like it if their travel spending helped the climate
These findings echo results from another recent survey conducted by Futerra of more than  1,000 consumers in the USA and UK. While not specifically focused on travel, the Futura study revealed that “96% of people feel their own actions, such as donating, recycling or buying ethically, can make a difference.” The Futura study also directly asked consumers whether they would like brands to help them be more sustainable in their daily life; 88% said yes. 

When it comes to sustainability and the costs associated with it, travel brands are justifiably cautious. Operating on thin margins in the best of times, travel companies worry that inviting travelers to chip in when it comes to funding climate solutions might put them off.  The experience of one travel company, however, bears out the intentions voiced in the research and puts this fear to rest. Kimkim is an online travel agency for multi-day itineraries that connects travelers with local specialists. Beginning in March 2022, the company started including a contribution to climate education and carbon removal collective Tomorrow’s Air on every booking. With thousands of travelers now through its system, Kimkim says the response has been overwhelmingly positive. 

Source:  Outside- ATTA Research, “Outdoor Enthusiasts Share Their Perspective on Climate” (LINK)

Our travelers, local specialists, and internal team have had an overwhelmingly positive reaction to our decision to invest in carbon removal technology through Tomorrow's Air. Despite making participation mandatory for every trip, we haven't received a single complaint from any of our stakeholders. I also believe our 'Partnering for Impact' model is unique: for every $10 traveler contribution, Kimkim and our local specialists match it with another $10. That structure helps us both increase stakeholder buy-in and multiply the scale of the initiative,” said Eric Chamberlain, Head of Destination Development at Kimkim. 

Kimkim’s decision to directly involve travelers in its effort to support climate education and carbon removal with permanent storage technology is also backed up by leading thinkers in corporate social responsibility strategy.

Solitaire Townsend, co-founder of the global firm Futerra and noted leader in sustainability and climate communications,  recently observed, “Just talking about your own values isn’t enough, consumers want you to help them live theirs. And that’s the secret to true purpose – serving the consumer rather than talking about yourself. Too much of the cause-related-marketing, sustainability, or CSR activities of brands promote what the company is doing, rather than helping the consumer to make their own difference. This isn’t only a problem for business brands. Governments and even many NGO’s take for themselves the role of ‘actor/hero/change-maker’ and relegate the public to mere ‘audience/beneficiary/cheerleader.’ 

Townsend, who was named "Ethical Entrepreneur of the Year" in 2008 and, more recently, chair of the UK Green Energy Scheme, is a member of the United Nations Sustainable Lifestyles Taskforce and a London Leader for Sustainability. She explores the role of brands and individual actions for climate further in her recent TEDTalk

Adding the climate education and carbon removal fee through Tomorrow’s Air was an easy step to make, and Kimkim has delivered the benefit of immediately engaging travelers alongside the business versus leaving them on the sidelines. Chamberlain elaborated, “For other businesses considering a similar effort, my advice is to stand by your values and make participation mandatory. Travelers understand that their trips impact the climate, and our experience shows that they are unlikely to balk at a relatively small contribution to help counter those effects.”

Learn more about Tomorrow’s Air and how your company can participate by sending an email to [email protected].