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Virtuoso Survey Indicates COVID-19 May Lead People to Travel More Responsibly

Travelers prefer sustainable travel options when available.


Photo: Shutterstock

As the pace of travel continues to gather momentum, Virtuoso, the worldwide network of travel agencies, travel advisors, and preferred partners leading the way in luxury experiences, released the results of a survey sharing how some of the world’s most discerning travelers view sustainable tourism. The survey found that travelers are aware of their place and impact in the world. Virtuoso’s vice-chair and sustainability strategist Jessica Hall Upchurch calls it “the conscious comeback,” as travel re-opens in new and innovative ways.

According to the results, 82 percent of respondents want to travel more responsibly in the future. Of the three pillars of sustainable travel, which note travel should support local communities and economies, travel should preserve a destination’s cultural heritage, and travel should protect the planet, 72 percent of respondents feel connected to all three.

When making travel plans, 50 percent of respondents believe it is very important to choose a hotel, cruise line, or travel company with a strong sustainability policy, 28 percent think it’s somewhat important, 13 percent don’t factor it into their decision making, and 9 percent need more education on the topic first.

While overtourism has in recent years become one of the greatest challenges in terms of sustainability, the survey revealed that the overwhelming number of respondents would be willing to visit a popular destination during off-peak seasons or opt for an alternative, less touristed destination.

One positive take-away from the survey is that nearly 70 percent of consumers agreed that traveling sustainably enhances the vacation experience. Another is that the desire to explore the planet in a way that protects and preserves the places they love for future generations is particularly strong among affluent consumers.

“This past year has led to travel’s great reset and one of the positive outcomes has been an awakening in terms of our greater responsibility to each other and to the planet,” says Hall Upchurch. “We’ve always felt that sustainability isn’t a trend—it’s a transformation—and there is a natural evolution that occurs in any movement that has a groundswell of support. We’ve seen the consumer mindset move from basic awareness and a general sentiment of ‘someone should do something,’ to the notion of ‘I can and should do something.’ This renewed purpose coincides with the recognition of oneness that the pandemic has created, and it’s driving people to make different choices on their future travels than perhaps they did just over a year ago.”

For more on how travel is rebounding after the pandemic, check out New Report Reveals Optimism Among Travelers Back to Pre-Pandemic Levels.

About The Author

Heather, co-founder of Well Defined and the former editor-in-chief of American Spa, is an award-winning journalist and content strategist, skilled in writing, copyediting, and media relations. She is also a freelance writer and has contributed to Elite Traveler, Islands, Kiwi, Luxury Travel Advisor, Organic Spa, Porthole Cruise, Travel Agent,,,, and, in addition to various custom publications. She is frequently called upon to comment on various spa and wellness trends for various media outlets.