Ethics: The Name of the Game among U.S. Travelers

02 March 2019 12:41am

From animal shows to posed photos or staged cultural visits — four in 10 Americans (39 percent) suffer “travel guilt” after taking a trip they now worry may have been unethical.

A new study examining the rise of responsible tourism found many have an activity they’ve done in the past they would not do again in hindsight.

In fact, ninety-one percent of international travelers say it’s important for their trips to be ethical, according to new research.

Taking an ethical trip involves learning about the culture (63 percent), learning simple phrases in the language (56 percent) and buying souvenirs from local merchants (56 percent).

Additionally, travelers report respecting monuments (54 percent) and supporting local businesses (44 percent) as part of their commitment to responsible tourism.

The survey of 2,000 internationally-traveling Americans (who have been outside of North American and the Caribbean in last three years) found that ethical travel is on the rise.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Exodus Travels, results show that 78 percent consider themselves to be more ethically-conscious travelers than they were a decade ago.

But the survey found that when reflecting on previous trips, a wide range of activities cause travelers to experience “travel guilt.”

Respondents include riding on elephants (18 percent), swimming with dolphins (19 percent) and posing for photographs with captive wildlife (21 percent) on their list of unethical activities they wouldn’t do again.

To make amends, 67 percent of respondents now research a destination and the activities offered before traveling — with six hours found to be the average time spent researching before a trip.

Travelers say they’ve become more ethical as a result of their own research (61 percent), increased concern for the environment (60 percent) and social media (55 percent).

This is in addition to seeing news coverage (52 percent) and watching documentaries like “Blackfish” (52 percent).

And 74 percent of respondents worry whether their tourism dollars are going to the right place, which may be why it’s important to the majority (56 percent) of respondents that when taking a guided tour, the company uses local tour guides.

Additionally, respondents want tour companies to have responsible wildlife policies (57 percent) and have a policy on ethical tourism (52 percent).

Seventy percent report often researching a company’s ethical tourism policy before signing up for a tour.

To guarantee an ethically-responsible trip, the average respondent would be willing to pay 33 percent more for the trip.

Another thing ethically-conscious travelers are doing is taking trips led by female guides (61 percent), who respondents report being “more detailed,” giving tours “filled with more relevant facts” and being “more careful and ethical with the environment” than their male counterparts.

Seventy-two percent of respondents are more likely to travel with a company that actively champions for women’s rights and equality.

Source: The New York Post

Back to top