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Sustainable Travel in an Era of Disruption: Impact of COVID-19 on Sustainable Tourism Attitudes

Publication date:
Jan 2022





Supporting the sustainable tourism recovery requires that a systemic approach is in place, involving not only all parties in the tourism value chain, the supply-side, but also the active participation of consumers, the demand-side. The turmoil brought by the COVID-19 outbreak has fundamentally shifted people’s lives; the way they live, and work, their education, social interactions, and travel as we know it. Although consumers’ adoption of a sustainable behaviour in tourism has been growing in the past years, research has shown that the global pandemic has driven more sustainable travel trends. Generally, travellers seem to be adopting greener options and paying closer attention to their impact on the environment and local communities. Travelling closer to home, avoiding crowded destinations and seeking more authentic and immersive experiences have become some of the emerging trends driven by the pandemic.

However, the willingness to adopt a more sustainable travel behaviour expressed by consumers does not always materialise, while these changes are still difficult to predict. It has therefore become imperative to better understand the gap between people’s sustainable values and their related actions, and to explore approaches to minimise this discrepancy.

This study supports European destinations in better understanding consumers’ attitudes in the pandemic era, and more specifically the extent to which tourists are ready to make concessions and adopt more sustainable approaches while travelling. By exploring this ‘value-action gap’ ETC expects to support destinations and the wider tourism sector in the transition towards a more sustainable tourism ecosystem.