Daily Podcast: Sustainable Travel’s Shortfalls

Skift Take

Good morning from Skift. It’s Wednesday, April 20, in New York City. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast explains that travelers would like more sustainable options but can’t find them, what rising visa fees mean to travel recovery, and where Japan is seeing improvement.



Episode Notes

A growing number of travelers worldwide are expressing a greater desire to travel more sustainably, but many are unsure about how to do it. Those travelers aren’t getting the help they need from travel industry executives who have given issues pertaining to sustainability just lip service for far too long, writes Global Tourism Reporter Lebawit Lily Girma. In her essay, she asserts fewer words, and more deeds are needed.

Booking.com’s recently released 2022 Sustainable Travel Report, which surveyed more than 30,000 travelers across 32 countries and territories, revealed that sustainable travel is important for 73 percent of global consumers. However, Girma writes in her essay that companies in the industry need to do a lot of work to change consumers’ behaviors. More than half of travelers in the survey said they don’t look at their accommodation sustainability efforts before booking while 31 percent of respondents say they didn’t know sustainable accommodations existed.

In addition, Girma calls out the aviation industry for greenwashing as despite its net zero commitment pledges, major airline groups are lobbying to weaken the European Union’s climate regulations for the sector. Why? She writes the proposed limitations on fossil fuels would hit airlines’ bottom lines.

Next, Asian nations such as Indonesia, Thailand and India have taken significant steps in recent months to ease travel restrictions. But one major barrier could stifle the continent’s tourism recovery. What is it? Asia Editor Peden Doma Bhutia reports that rising visa fees could deter prospective visitors from traveling to the region.

Hannah Person, director of research and tourism consulting firm Pear Anderson, said that as travel has become more expensive in general, visa fees are becoming a major consideration for consumers in determining what destinations to visit. Bhutia cites Indonesia as an example, where tourism officials last week loudly refuted a published report that said the government was tripling the cost of a visa on arrival, fearful that budget travelers would consider themselves priced out of a trip to the country.

Brendan Sobie, an analyst at consulting firm Sobie Aviation, said increasing visa fees would not create the economic boom destinations are looking for. Sobei added that allowing visitors to enter without a visa or with a simple visa on arrival often leads to an increase in tourist arrivals.

We end today with a look at Japan. Skift Research’s newly released Skift Travel Health Index for March 2022 reveals the country, which has been closed to overseas tourists since the start of the pandemic, is finally showing signs of a travel recovery, reports Senior Research Analyst Wouter Geerts.

Japan recorded a 4.5 percentage point improvement in travel performance between February and March 2022. Geerts cites the slight easing of border controls as a reason for the bump in performance as authorities raised the number of people allowed to enter from 3,500 a day to 5,000 from the beginning of last month. However, Japan’s travel performance is still below 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

Meanwhile, Russia and China saw their travel performances worsen, with Russia recording the steepest decline of any nation in the Index as international sanctions continue to pummel its travel industry. China’s performance suffered due to a new wave of Covid cases that triggered lockdowns in dozens of its cities.


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