New research from Bain & Co focuses on Sustainable Tourism in MENA
Bain & Company’s new research study, ‘Sustainable Tourism: An Untapped Opportunity for Green Growth’, reveals that there is an increasing appetite for more sustainable tourism among leisure travellers across the globe, who will choose destinations and providers (airlines, hotels, restaurants, and tour companies) based on their sustainability records and are starting to pay a premium for it.
Overall, more than two-thirds of consumers surveyed in the selected markets consider sustainability aspects to be important or extremely important when traveling for leisure, and 73 percent expect sustainability to become more important over the next five years. In addition, they state that sustainability considerations influence their choices (64 percent), are willing to pay extra for more sustainable offerings (66 percent) and would recommend a holiday destination based on sustainability considerations (57 percent). Among the respondents, Bain identified sustainability enthusiasts: those who consider sustainability “extremely important,” both in their daily life and when traveling for leisure (~30 percent of survey respondents).
Importantly, compared with the rest of the survey respondents, sustainability enthusiasts were:
4x more likely to consider sustainability aspects as “extremely important” when choosing a holiday destination
7x more likely to recommend a holiday destination driven by sustainability considerations
1.6x more willing to pay for more sustainable choices, at a premium of 15 to 20 percentage points compared to non-enthusiasts
There is a significant opportunity among the “sustainability enthusiasts” segment of travellers interested in visiting the MENA (Middle East and Northern Africa) region. The study’s aim is to better understand the behaviours and preferences of relevant travellers interested in MENA as a destination. The research covered consumers from six markets: Germany, Italy, France, the UK, Saudi Arabia, and China.
Karim Henain, Partner at Bain & Company Middle East, pointed out that “the uptake in sustainable tourism is driven by an appetite to travel sustainably and make more responsible choices. Bain has developed a framework defining the components of a sustainable tourism experience around three pillars: environmental impact (like eco-friendly transportation and accommodation options), social responsibility (DEI standards), and community engagement (contract with locals).”
Agnieszka Piatkowska, Managing Director of Akhom, feels that many destinations and tourism businesses are now adopting sustainable practices and certifications to showcase their commitment to responsible tourism and engaging in activities that contribute to the local community's well-being.
She added, “Travellers are increasingly choosing to stay in eco-friendly accommodations, such as eco-lodges and green hotels, that implement sustainable practices throughout their operations. Overall, the rise of sustainable tourism signifies a positive shift towards more conscious and responsible travel choices, which will contribute to the long-term preservation of natural and cultural resources, support local communities, and create a more sustainable and equitable tourism industry.”
Alfio Bernardini, General Manager, Grand Plaza Movenpick Media City agrees with Piatkowska. “The importance of sustainability among travellers cannot be underestimated,” said Bernardini. “We have observed a growing trend where travellers consider sustainability aspects as key factors when choosing their accommodation and destinations. Many of our guests appreciate our efforts towards sustainability and actively seek out hotels with strong sustainability standards. Beyond the stay, we’ve also observed a growing number of meetings and events booked in our conference centre that actively seek our sustainability measures. This drives us to continually improve and provide more sustainable options to meet their expectations, while also recognizing that nature is at the heart of the tourism experience. In line with Accor’s vision, we are part of a larger commitment to preserving nature, setting goals to achieve Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050, and engage in the absolute reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.”
Following a dip in 2020, tourism globally is again on the rise and is expected to reach $17 trillion in size by 2027, compared to $11 trillion prior to Covid-19. The research shows that some travellers feel that the travel and tourism sector is making little or no effort to be more sustainable, indicating that there is still much room for the sector to respond and make a difference.
Sustainability enthusiasts were found in all markets, but demographics varied by country. For example, sustainability enthusiasts from China and Saudi Arabia were predominantly highly educated millennials, whereas their European counterparts were almost equally spread across age groups, income, and education levels.