More than four in five adults—82 percent—from around the world, including 66 percent of Americans, are committed to taking their everyday sustainability habits with them when they travel, according to a survey released Monday by InterContinental Hotels Group. IHG also announced a 10-year sustainability plan for the company, dubbed Journey to Tomorrow.
The survey was conducted online from Jan. 20-28 and included 9,000 global responses: 2,000 from the U.S., 2,000 from the U.K., 2,000 from Greater China, 1,000 from Germany, 1,000 in the United Arab Emirates and 1,000 from Australia.
A majority of all respondents and almost two-thirds of U.S. respondents agreed that 2020 and Covid-19 has made them more socially and environmentally conscious about their effect on the world when traveling. Younger U.S. travelers were much more likely to share this sentiment: 78 percent of 18-to 24-year-olds agreed compared with 27 percent of those 55 and older.
Nearly 40 percent of U.S. respondents said they would be more mindful about their travel choices following the pandemic. Their No. 1 consideration (42 percent of respondents) was how ethical and responsible the hotel brand was in creating an inclusive work environment, supporting jobs, providing skills training and education, and protecting human rights, followed by avoiding tourist activities that could have a negative impact on the local environment and communities (38 percent). Further, 84 percent said it is important to get to know the local community when visiting somewhere new.
Many U.S. travelers are willing to pay more for more sustainable travel. The survey found that Americans would spend on average 41 percent more on an accommodation they know operates responsibly, with 47 percent happy to spend more than 40 percent extra per night. Globally, 31 percent said they would spend more per night for more sustainable accommodations.
IHG's new sustainability plan will "challenge us to deliver on new ambitions, including how we continue to promote wellbeing in the workplace, champion an inclusive culture and advance human rights," said IHG president and CEO Keith Barr in a letter on the IHG website. "In our communities, we will seize opportunities to improve millions of lives, whether through supporting disaster relief efforts, tackling food poverty, or by providing stills training that drives social and economic change. We will work with every one of our hotels to reduce carbon emissions in line with climate science, eliminate single-use items or move to reusable/recyclable alternatives, reduce food waste and collaborate locally to reduce water stress in high-risk areas."
The plan was formed through an assessment process with external experts, stakeholder consultation and industry collaboration, and contributes to the universal framework of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which aims to provide a blueprint for a better, more sustainable future by 2030, according to the company.
IHG's plan covers five areas. For company employees, goals include achieving a gender balance and a doubling of underrepresented groups across IHG leadership, and driving respect for and advancing human rights. In communities where it operates, IHG will promote skills training to push economic and social change, provide support when natural disaster strikes and collaborate to aid those facing food poverty. For carbon and energy, it has implemented a 2030 target that delivers a 15 percent absolute reduction in its direct operations, and a 46 percent per square meter reduction in franchise operations. It also is targeting 100 percent of new-build hotels to operate with very low or zero carbon emissions. Concerning waste, IHG will eliminate single-use items or move to reusable or recyclable alternatives and minimize food waste through a "prevent, donate, divert" plan. It also will reduce its water footprint at hotels, mitigate water risk, and collaborate to ensure adequate water, sanitation and hygiene conditions for its operating communities.