Social consciousness, including environmental issues, was a hot topic in 2007, and according to a recent Travelocity poll, the trend among travelers shows no sign of slowing down in the coming year. With 38 percent of respondents planning to dedicate at least some portion of their vacations this year to volunteering and nearly 80 percent willing to spend more on an eco-friendly destination or business, 2008 is truly the year consumers plan to travel responsibly. Travelocity’s Travel for Good (SM) program is designed to help them do just that.
“There are limitless opportunities to minimize the negative impact of our travels and even improve the locales we visit,” said Genevieve Shaw Brown, Travelocity’s senior editor. “We want to inform travelers about all the possibilities so individuals can participate at a level that works for them.”
Options range from something as simple as a one-click carbon offset purchase to immersing yourself completely in a volunteer vacation. Brown said that although many travelers are aware of these options, there is a huge range of opportunities that fall somewhere in the middle. “Choosing to add on one day of volunteering to your vacation or doing a bit of research to find an eco-friendly resort are simple things socially conscious travelers can do.”
A few additional statistics include:
* Of the nearly 80 percent willing to spend more money on an eco-friendly destination or business, responses ranged from $25 to more than $200 more. The largest group of respondents (23 percent) said they would be willing to spend $51-$100 more.
* Of respondents who indicated they’re planning on volunteering in 2008, 33 percent said conservation and the environment is the cause these do-gooders are most likely to donate time to
* Healthcare and education also came in near the top of the list.
* Respondents are nearly as likely to volunteer stateside as abroad.
In addition to traditional volunteer vacations, Travelocity recently began offering “bite-size,” or one-day volunteer opportunities. These are offered in New Orleans in conjunction with Hands on New Orleans and in the San Francisco Bay Area in conjunction with Earthwatch. Volunteers in San Francisco spend the day monitoring the Mammals of Monterey Bay to ensure populations of sea otters, humpback whales, and dolphins are stable. Meanwhile, volunteers in New Orleans can assist in post-Katrina recovery by working at a food bank, an animal shelter, or renovating schools.
“People are genuinely concerned about how their travels impact the global and local environment, but often think the contributions they make are insignificant,” said Brown. “It’s when we all band together and do a small part that change happens.”
A few ways one person can make a difference on their next vacation:
* Purchase carbon offsets. Just $10 would negate the carbon emissions of air travel, one-night hotel stay, and rental car for one person.
* Choose an environmentally conscious resort. Go beyond recycling programs and look for resorts that support the local economy, purchase energy credits, and actively educate their guests on the environment.
* Volunteer for a day. Taking a full-blown volunteer vacation is great, but if you don’t have the time or the money you can spend just one day volunteering.
* Apply for a Change Ambassador grant . If you can’t afford to take a volunteer vacation apply to Travelocity’s program and get up to $5000 towards a volunteer vacation.
* Educate future generations. Travelocity’s Eco-bunnies teach about carbon footprints and offer lesson plans for parents and teachers.
The Travelocity poll conducted from Nov. 26 - Dec. 3, 2007 consisted of responses from approximately 1,000 Travelocity members. The survey was conducted to obtain information from travelers who have booked at least one travel component in the last 12 months.