Cost vs Conscience: delves into the dilemma dividing sustainable travel in 2023

Research by reveals that sustainable travel remains a factor for many when it comes to booking a holiday but so do rising costs has revealed its most extensive sustainable travel research to date, spotlighting a dilemma – travellers feel forced to choose between cutting costs and being more mindful about sustainable travel choices. With insights gathered from more than 33,000 travellers across 35 countries and territories.

At a time of general global uncertainty, travelling more sustainably continues to be front of mind for Australians, with almost three-quarters of travellers (72%) believing people need to act now and make more sustainable travel choices.‘s 2023 Sustainable Travel research confirms an intersection between the current cost of living concerns and the extreme climate events witnessed in our region, which has led to a greater demand for both more budget and planet-friendly travel options.” said Laura Houldsworth, Managing Director Asia Pacific at

“We are listening and together with our partners across the industry, we are examining every part of the trip to not only support our travellers but to also benefit our Australian communities and environments.”

“We are committed to making it easier for everyone to experience travel in a more mindful and responsible way, no matter where they are on their sustainability journey. More than 500,000 properties globally are now being recognised for their sustainability efforts with a Travel Sustainable badge including over 9,000 in Australia.”

A tale of two wallets in an unsteady global climate

The economic weather has changed drastically since last year, and the big topics at the front of people’s minds today are the cost of living crisis and the climate crisis.

Over three quarters (76%) of travellers say they want to travel more sustainably over the coming 12 months, while the same amount think the global energy crisis and rising cost of living is impacting their spending plans. For some travellers the two are mutually exclusive. With rising inflation, nearly half are stuck in the notion that they must make a choice between sustainability and spending, with 49% believing more sustainable travel options are too expensive – up 11% from’s 2022 data.

For these respondents, sustainability and travel combined can seem non-urgent when they are worried about affording bills and the energy crisis. On the flip side, with travel well and truly back for others and a more urgent focus on conscious choices, 43% of today’s travellers would be willing to pay more for travel options with a sustainable certification, dialling up their spend to feel reassured they are driving impact. 

As an increasing number of travellers feel the pinch, they are seeking more sustainable travel options rich in rewards, highlighting the perceived trade-off between making conscious choices and saving money and the need for incentivisation.

Nearly half (49%) want discounts and economic incentives in order to opt for eco-friendly options, up 12% from 2022. While 42% would be encouraged to travel more sustainably with reward points for making more sustainable choices that they could use for free extra perks or discounts through online travel booking sites. 

Breaking through barriers to drive change

It’s not just cost that is a perceived hurdle to traveling more sustainably. From limited data to a perceived lack of options, barriers to traveling more sustainably appear higher than ever, with some telling shifts in the past 12 months.

Over half (51%) of travellers believe there are not enough sustainable travel options, while 74% want travel companies to offer more sustainable travel choices, up from 66% in 2022.

Despite good intentions, 44% of travellers don’t know where to find more sustainable options. For example, 75% seek authentic experiences that are representative of the local culture, yet in stark contrast 40% don’t know how or where to find these tours and activities that will ensure they give back to the local community.

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