As businesses and corporations look for ways to lower their carbon footprint and reduce their environmental impact, it is helpful to know how far consumers are willing to go to play their part. New research has revealed the majority of Australian travellers will make some concessions or adjustments to their travel plans that impact local culture and ecosystems – but this doesn’t always extend to choosing greener modes of transport.


The research was derived from a global survey of 15000 respondents commissioned by leading global assistance company, Europ Assistance, the parent company of award-winning Australian travel insurance provider InsureandGo. The Europ Assistance 2023 Holiday Barometer is an annual global survey that was conducted in 15 countries and is designed to uncover travel trends. The survey also included 1000 Australians.


Respondents from Australia were asked to indicate their familiarity with a list of travel habits, whether they always incorporate the behaviour, whether they are ready to do it or are doing it when they can, or whether they wouldn’t want to do it. Four in five (79%) said they willingly avoid socially irresponsible or disrespectful activities when travelling to other countries or regions (such as elephant rides or taking unsolicited photos of locals), but they stopped short of volunteering with a not-for-profit on their holidays, with 58 per cent of respondents reporting they did not take part in local community tourism projects. That said, more than half (55%) reported that they are willing to bring goods like clothing and books to donate when visiting underprivileged regions, and 10 per cent say they are already doing this.


InsureandGo spokesperson and Chief Commercial Officer Jonathan Etkind said, “The results suggest that Australian travellers are mindful of the impact of their travels, and are taking specific actions to improve their social, cultural, and environmental impact.”


Making the switch to greener modes of transportation is a challenge. 

Switching to greener transportation options, like taking a train instead of a plane, is suggested to cut emissions by 54%.[1] While 1 in 10 (11%) Australians surveyed as part of the Europ Assistance 2023 Holiday Barometer are consistently choosing eco-friendly travel, more than a third (37%) show little interest in lower-impact transport, despite its significant environmental benefits.


Jonathan explains, “Australia is famously remote from the rest of the world, and vast in its size, so this reluctance among Australians to change transportation modes can be put down to the fact that it takes a very long time to travel to pretty much anywhere. Travellers are less inclined to swap a 90-minute flight from Sydney to Brisbane for a nine and a half-hour car trip; in most cases, it’s much more feasible to fly.”


Respondents were also asked whether they would opt to travel to a closer destination to reduce their carbon footprint. Travellers can make a substantial impact in reducing their carbon footprint, considering that air travel alone reportedly contributes to over 2 per cent of annual CO2 emissions[2], but the survey revealed 42 per cent of Australian respondents disregard this concern and are unwilling to adopt this environmentally sustainable initiative.


The survey also asked whether Aussie travellers would sign up to carbon offset programs to counterbalance the environmental impact of plane travel. While only 8 per cent are already committed, 42 per cent show no interest. Promisingly, half (50%) plan to join the program, which indicates a willingness to take further action in future.


“It’s interesting to see the willingness from survey respondents to adopt these greener habits when travelling, but there is a roadblock for these behaviours to come to fruition. This can be put down to travellers not knowing what carbon offset initiatives are available, or believing it is the airlines’ responsibility to manage their carbon footprint. Either way, there needs to be more transparency for the industry to see positive action,” Jonathan added.


Aussie travellers are mindful of their impact on local culture and eco-systems.  

Travellers from Australia undertaking the survey also recognised their responsibility to help bolster local businesses by supporting locally owned accommodation providers, restaurants, and shops. Almost two-thirds (65%) of respondents either endeavour to do so or are willing to start and specifically 21 per cent are consistently making this effort when traveling abroad.


Jonathan said, “There are many actions individuals can take to lessen their carbon footprint when travelling, and it’s great that behaviours are becoming greener and more socially conscious across the board.”


Australia was included in the research for the first time this year after Europ Assistance’s acquisition of InsureandGo Australia and Tick Travel Insurance. The full report can be found here: https://www.insureandgo.com.au/media/2023/05/GLOBAL-REPORT-Holiday-Barometer-EA-Ipsos-2023.pdf


Survey question: Would you be ready to adopt the following initiatives for a more sustainable way of travelling? 

Sustainable travel trend

Yes, and I am already doing it every time (% respondents)

Yes, and I am ready to do it / doing it when I can
 (% respondents)

No I would not want to do it / Not concerned.

(% respondents)

Switching transportation modes for a lower carbon impact (ex: train instead of plane)




Participating in a travel offset program to compensate your carbon footprint




Trying to reduce the amount of waste in the destination country




Avoid activities that are not socially responsible or respectful of the local culture / environment / the wildlife (ex, avoiding elephant ride or taking pictures of persons without their consent)




Picking an accommodation with a green certification (commitment to sustainability initiative)




Volunteer with NGOs to join community tourism projects




Bringing goods to donate (clothes, books...) to local population when visiting underprivileged regions




Travel to a closer destination to reduce carbon footprint




Adopt behaviours useful not to waste local resources (such as electricity, water, etc …)




Supporting local economy (staying in locally owned accommodation, buy local food/ products)





[2] International Energy Agency, September 2022, https://www.iea.org/reports/aviation