The Reef-World Foundation has released the results of an online survey revealing that sustainability is an increasingly important decision-making consideration for tourists as the industry recovers from the pandemic shutdown – and some are willing to pay extra to ensure they get it.
Conducted from April to June 2022 together with Reef-World’s partners, PADI, RAID, PSS and ZuBlu, the survey received more than 2,400 responses from various demographics, both tourists and professional divers. Reef-World hopes the report will assist the post-pandemic rehabilitation of the marine tourism industry, and help businesses, local governments and communities to prepare themselves for the demands of the next generations of tourists.
‘This survey has highlighted some really encouraging trends,’ said Chloe Harvey, Director at The Reef-World Foundation. ‘The Gen Z and Millennials, those with the biggest buying power today and tomorrow, are seeking out experiences that align with their sustainability values. They are willing to pay more for sustainable offerings and are wanting to educate themselves and be involved in meaningful environmental activities while on holiday.
‘This is so positive for both the industry and the environment upon which it is built,’ Ms Harvey continued. ‘It’s given us a sneak peek into the future of marine tourism; one where sustainability is no longer a competitive edge, but a minimum requirement. We’re proud that the Green Fins approach and tools remain at the cutting edge, delivering on the needs of the industry and the consumer as we move into this new era of tourism.’
One particular highlight from the report is that dive tourists’ demands have shifted since the pandemic, with more customers requiring their businesses of choice to demonstrate sustainable tourism practices. Some 75 per cent of survey respondents state they would be willing to pay more for sustainability, however, they are also concerned that their money would be spent on ‘greenwashing’, rather than a dedicated commitment to the environment.
The Reef-World Foundation says that the tourism industry, therefore, needs ‘a brand-conscious, transparent, and effective global green label to address that’, such as its successful and increasingly popular Green Fins initiative.
As well as marine tourists, the survey found that responses from industry professionals suggest they are seeking more education and better tools to raise environmental awareness among themselves and their customers. An overwhelming majority of dive professionals think operators should do more to protect the environment, and tourists are calling on those who profit from marine tourism to be held accountable for their actions.
The Reef-World Foundation’s Green Fins initiative, which focuses on teaching environmentally friendly scuba diving and snorkelling practices across the industry, is the the world’s first independent certificate of sustainable tourism operators. The survey shows that the tourists of the future are increasingly likely to be voting with their wallets, and choosing marine tourism operators that align with their own values for sustainability and the preservation ocean ecosystems.
To view the key findings of the survey on how marine tourism operators might look to improve their commitment to sustainable tourism, you can , view the full report at this link.