Things are changing: the year ahead of the UN sustainable travel year

Things are changing: the year ahead of the UN sustainable travel year

3 November, 2016 0

At Authenticitys we firmly believe in the transformative power of travel. Whether it’s small scale, such as altering a single individual’s world view, or in aggregate, such as serving as a source of much-needed development dollars, the power of people moving across the globe is profound.

Another thing we believe strongly in at Authenticitys is data and statistics. It can be the best indicator of impact and a good benchmark to set when you are trying to effect change in the world. In our own mission, we try to use data as much as we can to direct our projects and measure our impact in terms of climate, sustainability, education, and elsewhere. On a larger scale, data reminds us how big the world is and the vast potential that travel has to change it.

From the bird’s eye view to social media, here are some of our favourite statistics about how travel is changing the world we live in.

Big picture:

  • “Some 50 million more tourists traveled internationally in 2015 than in 2014, and 2015 marked the 6th consecutive year of above-average growth since 2009.”
  • “The travel industry contributed US$7.2 trillion or 9.8% to world GDP in 2015, and is forecast to grow by 4% per annum over the next ten years.”
  • “Two out of three people will live in cities by 2050 – an influx of 2.5 billion new urbanites.”
  • “Cities account for up to 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions and they can play a significant role in developing locally-appropriate greenhouse gas mitigation actions and strategies.”


Potential for good

  • “The 2015 “Good Travels” survey by Tourism Cares found 55% (1405 respondents) said that they volunteered or contributed financially or in-kind to a destination they had visited in the last two years. Travelers also stated they want spending and giving to help the places they visit: 72% said their travel giving is “important,” “very important”, or “extremely important.”
  • “Globally, 69% of travelers plan on trying something new in 2016, 15% want to try adventure travel for the first time, and 47% say they have visited destinations because of the people and culture of specific countries.”



  • “Nature-based tourism accounts for about 20% of total international travel and continues to grow, according to the UNWTO.”
  • “The percentage of consumers who are willing to pay more for sustainable brands that showed commitment to social and environmental values went up from 55% to 66% between 2014 and 2015. About 73% of the younger generations — Millennials and Generation Z — are more likely to pay more for sustainability, compared to 51% of Baby Boomers.”
  • “Tourism contributes to about 5% of total global greenhouse gas emissions,4 and the most common greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2), is emitted through goods and services related to tourism.”
  • “A 2014 worldwide survey conducted by the Cleantech Group showed that in North America, Airbnb guests use 63% less energy than hotel guests – which is enough energy to power 19,000 homes for one year.”



  • “52% of users surveyed said their friend’s photos inspired travel plans, and 76% post their vacation photos to social networks.”
  • “5% of those surveyed liked pages relating to the trip they were planning. This is a very important touch-point for travel brands, as social media is an important research tool for vacationers. If a brand is able to present itself to a vacationer then it could influence those 33% that change hotels, or the 7% that change their destination.”
  • “More than 148.3 million people use the Internet to make reservations for their accommodations, tours and activities. That’s more than 57% of all travel reservations each year.”


 Changing trends

  • “A 2015 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) estimates that Airbnb received 155 million guest stays in 2014, nearly 22% more than Hilton Worldwide.”
  • “Wellness tourism is already a $439-billion market, and is set to grow to $678.5 billion by 2017. It is directly responsible for 11.7 million global jobs, which deliver $1.3 trillion in global economic impact, and wellness tourists spend, on average, 130% more than the average global tourist.”
  • “The percentage of U.S. leisure travelers who travel to learn about and enjoy unique dining experiences grew from 40% to 51% between 2006 and 2013. In 2012, it was estimated that tourism expenditures on food services in the U.S. topped $201 billion, nearly a quarter of all travel income.”
  • “Travelers are likely to spend more on sightseeing than on shopping, souvenirs and nightlife combined.  The 5 most common things travelers are willing to spend more on as a treat: Sightseeing (53%), special dining experiences (41%), accommodation (41%), activities (35%) and shopping (24%).




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