Flight shaming and sustainability are the two consumer trends most likely to affect travel businesses over the next two years, according to a new survey.
The concept of flight shaming over air travel’s carbon footprint, known as flygskam in Sweden where the term was coined, and sustainability were both mentioned as likely to have an impact by 37% of travel and tourism bosses, who were surveyed by consultancy firm RSM.
But the study, which included senior bosses of travel agents, online booking platforms and tour operators, found the industry was reacting positively to these consumer concerns by offering carbon emission offsetting and promoting ecotourism holidays and city breaks by rail.
Ian Bell, RSM’s head of travel and tourism, said: “The travel sector is becoming increasingly aware of changing consumer attitudes and its own environmental and sustainability obligations and our survey shows that the industry is starting to respond positively.”
Despite challenges, such as the spreading coronavirus, the travel industry remains confident about the year ahead with 86% of respondents expressing “optimism” about their prospects in 2020.
“While many in the industry were remarkably optimistic at the start of the year, the mood may have darkened slightly as operators become increasingly concerned about the impact of the coronavirus outbreak,” added Bell.
“Historically, the travel industry has proved to be hugely resilient despite their exposure to global events. Given the current headwinds, many operators may need to stay nimble to respond quickly to changing consumer demand.”
The vast majority of travel firms also remained positive about the UK’s upcoming trade negotiations with the EU – 77% were confident the government would reach a deal that would “protect” the industry in the future.
But there was less positivity among travel bosses about the Atol consumer protection scheme: less than half of respondents thought the current Atol system was “fit for purpose”, with criticisms ranging from inconsistencies over the repatriation of stranded holidaymakers and the “lack of freedom” Atol provided to agencies.