Nearly half of travel companies say they’ll increase ESG investment in ‘24

A new survey commissioned by Amadeus shows an overwhelming majority of travel companies believe the industry can reach United Nations’ goals for carbon emissions by 2050, while nearly half anticipate investing more in environmental, social and governance initiatives in 2024.

The survey conducted this fall of 896 “senior decision-makers” responsible for sustainability and ESG included travel companies from nine countries across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific and seven segments including travel sellers, hotels, airports, airlines and destination marketing organizations.

Of the 89% who believe the industry can achieve net zero in carbon emissions by mid-century, 36% believe it can be done without any adjustments. The other 53% believe progress needs to be accelerated urgently to reach the goal.

The study highlighted a perceived role for technology to help reach industry goals. More than 9 in 10 agreed technology was important to achieve both environmental and social objectives.

In singling out what technology held the highest potential to accelerate environmental sustainability, 33% of respondents chose generative artificial intelligence because it can guide travelers to more sustainable options.

That might be a big ask, though. A recent report by Phocuswright found that sustainability rarely impacts the decisions of even well-intentioned travelers. The blinded survey found a large gap between travelers’ stated intentions and their behavior. For example, while about half of respondents said they were more likely to choose transportation based on its carbon footprint, only about 1 in 10 did.

When participants in the Amadeus survey were asked to identify barriers to environmental commitments, 40% cited cost, followed by a lack of technology and knowledge (30%) and senior executive buy-in (25%).

On the positive side, 90% said their companies had a strategy in place to reach environmental sustainability objectives or are planning to implement one in 2024.

Amadeus wants to embed ESG at the core of its business and support its travel partners in becoming efficient, said Jackson Pek, the company’s senior vice president and group general counsel.

“As the travel industry continues to navigate the complexity of delivering on ESG targets, I’m encouraged by the optimism and the commitments being put in place – from investments to strategic planning to technological solutions,” Pek said, adding, “Together, we can make travel more sustainable.”

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