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Global Warming Heats Up Debate in Travelers’ Minds

Survey reveals Americans have mixed feelings about travel in the age of a warming planet

According to the latest travelhorizons™ survey of U.S. adults conducted by MMGY Global, it is clear many travelers acknowledge their travel may negatively impact the environment. Nearly four in ten of these travelers (37 percent) believe that tourism overcrowding is now a serious issue.  

Encouragingly, to help reduce their ecological impact, travelers are willing to change their behaviors when they travel. To this end, three in ten (32 percent) are willing to pay higher rates or fares to patronize travel service providers who demonstrate environmental responsibility.

In addition, more than half of travelers (54 percent) are willing to use less single-use plastics, and 41 percent will consciously choose to visit destinations in the off-season to reduce overcrowding. Meanwhile, some 27 percent will intentionally book trips with environmentally-friendly hotels and tour companies, and about one in four (27 percent) will either rent bicycles or walk more instead of taking automobile transportation.

Despite their concerns, only 12 percent of those who believe travel negatively impacts the environment have regretted taking a trip afterwards because of the adverse effects it may have had on the planet. This is likely due in part to their perception that the very act of traveling has numerous positive impacts as well. One in three (34 percent) of travelers believe that travel plays an important role in their understanding of the impact of climate change on the world. And, a similar percentage (32 percent) say travel increases their desire to help people in other parts of the country or the world. Thus, in these ways, travel is seen as both a problem and a solution in the fight against climate change and global warming.

This survey questioned 2,302 U.S. adults, 1,649 who have taken at least one vacation during the last 12 months.