Happy travel sustainable holidays

Laura Houldsworth, managing director of Asia Pacific at Booking.com, shares her Travel Sustainable tips and how budget-conscious Kiwis are making travelling work for them.

As a spokesperson for the Booking.com Travel Sustainable initiative, can you share how to implement sustainable strategies when travelling?

There’s no doubt travellers are becoming more responsible consumers by increasingly adopting a regenerative mindset to travel whilst also seeking credible assurance when booking across the entire travel experience. My top three tips for embracing this regenerative mindset to travel are:

● Get off the beaten track – being mindful when choosing your next trip can help reduce over-tourism, which can be a major issue for fragile environments, ecosystems and local communities. Consider travelling to a location just outside a busy sightseeing area, travel in the off-peak season when there are fewer other visitors or to a lesser-known location. By travelling off the beaten track, you’ll meet more locals and experience authentic culture (plus being able to take far more unique-looking holiday photographs).

● Support the local economy and buy locally – when you travel, one of the best ways to support the local economy and limit your carbon footprint is to shop locally, eating food from street vendors or at restaurants that use sustainably sourced produce.. And if you’re cooking for yourself, try to purchase your produce from local markets.

● Book an eco-conscious accommodation – Your accommodation can make all the difference – when booking your accommodation, try to pick somewhere eco-conscious. With the wide variety of stays available, finding one that meets your needs and budget is easier than you think. Look for a listing that has energy-saving measures and water-saving practices in place (whether that’s reusing towels, having water-saving shower heads, etc). You can also avoid single-use plastic waste by bringing your own toiletries instead of using the ones supplied.

A recent study by Booking.com revealed that 79% of Kiwis ranked the cost of living as a factor that is affecting their confidence to travel. Despite this, 69% still remain unwaveringly optimistic about their travel plans over the next 12 months, and 36% (higher than any country in APAC) would like to travel more. With this striking paradox in mind, what are some possible external factors influencing Kiwis’ unique commitment to continuing their travel plans this year?

Whilst cost of living pressures are certainly still top of mind, Kiwis still have a lot of built-up desire to travel following the pandemic. Our recent Travel Predictions report for 2024 also highlighted a number of other external factors when it comes to sustainability and making more mindful choices when travelling.

A growing movement of hotels and unique stays are responding to significant environmental and social challenges through architectural design. Mindful travellers will hunt down jaw-dropping architecture that has environmental features at its heart, with nearly half (41%) looking for accommodation that has a wow factor in sustainability innovation and a majority (62%) wanting to see the outside brought indoors with green spaces and plants in accommodations.

Alongside contributing to conservation efforts, sustainable itineraries will give travellers exclusive access to the places they are helping preserve, in the most mindful and responsible way. Nearly half (48%) of Kiwi travellers are interested in sustainable travel apps where they can unlock experiences, such as adventures with locals to off-the-beaten-path areas (59%) or visiting remote locations that tourists otherwise have limited access to (50%).

Financial concern isn’t just affecting how confidently Kiwis travel, but also how sustainably they travel. A report revealed Kiwis want to travel more sustainably (64%) over the next 12 months, but over half (58%) believe travelling sustainably will be too expensive. What are some sustainable travel tips New Zealanders can easily implement without breaking the bank?

Our Booking.com Travel Confidence Index also revealed how Kiwi travellers are becoming more savvy spenders in order to be more sustainable. More than ever, Kiwi travellers are choosing budget-friendly accommodations (42%), travelling during off-peak times (39%), and practising mindful spending (40%). What’s more, they’re more likely (37%) to look to stay with family and friends while travelling than any other APAC country. Despite their frugal habits, 48% of Kiwis do still enjoy indulging in retail therapy during their adventures and big city breaks.

Can you tell us about your background and what led you to actively participate as a leader in the global travel industry?

I’ve always had an innate interest in travel and culture so was thrilled to join Booking.com in 2021. Having lived in Singapore for 18 years, and with almost two decades’ worth of experience across Asia Pacific, Japan, and China, I love the aspect of working with multicultural teams and bringing people from different backgrounds together to achieve success.

As managing director of Asia Pacific at Booking.com, I lead and oversee business growth, operations and strategy for the region. I have the unique opportunity to celebrate the different and diverse cultures across the APAC region; I love working alongside the experts at Booking.com to make travel more inclusive and sustainable for everyone visiting APAC countries.

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