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Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the The Ethical Traveller - UK market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this report

A third of adults say they consider how ethical a travel company is before buying products, but travel lags behind a number of other consumer sectors. Clearer, more widely recognised labelling would help to unlock the potential of ethical/environmentally-friendly travel.

Mintel estimates that 28% of holidaymakers are ‘soft ethical travellers’. This group is engaged enough to take the ethical values and policies of a travel company into account when researching a holiday, and prefers brands that embody their values. 7% of holidaymakers could be described as ‘hard ethical travellers’. This group is more pro-active and is likely to prioritise ethical/environmental values and policies when booking.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by John Worthington, a leading analyst in the Travel sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

More travellers are likely to adopt the ‘flexitarian’ approach to flying that we are seeing in dietary habits – choosing to take lower carbon forms of transport or stay in the UK for some, but not all, of their holidays. Travellers want to feel their holidays are helping local people and places, and are responsive to brands who model these values. Holidaymakers often want to do ‘the right thing’ but are looking to companies to take the lead and make it easier for them to do so John Worthington
Senior Travel Analyst


What's included

What's included

Table of contents

Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • UK ethical consumer spend surpassed £41 billion in 2018
              • Figure 1: UK ethical consumer spending, 2010-18
            • Record travel growth poses difficult questions
              • Figure 2: Number of domestic and overseas holidays taken by UK residents, 2014-19
            • Travel lags behind other sectors when it comes to consumer consideration of ethical factors
              • Figure 3: Ethical consideration taken into account, by retail sector, January 2019
            • Companies and brands
              • The consumer
                • 28% of holidaymakers are estimated to be ‘soft ethicals’…
                  • …and 7% are estimated to be ‘hard ethicals’
                    • Carbon reduction and recycling are the leading priorities for travellers
                      • Figure 4: Ethical travel priorities, November 2019
                    • Almost half of holidaymakers have experienced guilt about flying
                      • Figure 5: Impact of environmental concerns on flying, November 2019
                      • Figure 6: Intentions to fly on holiday over the next five years amongst recent fliers, November 2019
                    • Support for frequent flier levy
                      • Figure 7: Attitudes towards the cost of flying, November 2019
                    • Most travellers think companies should pay to make holidays more sustainable, but 39% are prepared to pay more
                      • Half of holidaymakers think ‘Fairtrade’-style labelling would nudge them into more ethical decisions
                        • A good ethical reputation can boost viral marketing
                          • Figure 8: Attitudes towards ethical travel, November 2019
                        • What we think
                        • Issues and Insights

                          • Local cultural experiences and use of public transport are among the most effective ways to promote ethical travel in destinations
                            • The facts
                              • The implications
                                • Travellers are willing to ‘put something back’ through local clean-ups and other activities
                                  • The facts
                                    • The implications
                                      • Flexi foodies
                                        • The facts
                                          • The implications
                                            • Kicking the bucket-list
                                              • The facts
                                                • The implications
                                                • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                                  • UK ethical spend rose by 89% between 2010 and 2018
                                                    • Soft ethical travellers…
                                                      • …and hard ethical travellers
                                                        • Holidays are at record levels
                                                          • The limits of growth
                                                            • Offsetting proves controversial
                                                              • Green Speed rail project mooted
                                                              • Market Drivers – Ethical Consumerism

                                                                • UK ethical consumer spend is over £40 billion a year
                                                                  • Labelling has made food and drink the biggest ethical spend category
                                                                      • Figure 9: UK ethical consumer spending, 2010-18
                                                                    • Half of consumers are prepared to boycott unethical companies
                                                                        • Figure 10: Attitudes towards ethical/unethical companies, November 2019
                                                                      • Travel lags behind other consumer sectors when it comes to ethical choices
                                                                          • Figure 11: Ethical consideration taken into account, by retail sector, January 2019
                                                                        • Environmental policy is a low booking priority for holidaymakers
                                                                            • Figure 12: Main reasons for choosing travel company, package vs independent, February 2019
                                                                          • ‘Soft ethical’ and ‘hard ethical’ travellers
                                                                          • Market Drivers – The Travel Market

                                                                            • 2019 looks like another record year for holidays…
                                                                              • Figure 13: Trends in the number and value of domestic holidays taken by UK residents, 2014-18
                                                                              • Figure 14: Trends in the number and value of overseas holidays taken by UK residents, 2014-18
                                                                            • …but record growth brings new problems
                                                                              • Dealing with overtourism
                                                                                • Tourism taxes
                                                                                  • The climate emergency
                                                                                    • UK commits to net zero by 2050
                                                                                      • Aviation emissions – global
                                                                                        • Low fares and over-capacity have fuelled rise in air travel
                                                                                          • Figure 15: Volume of overseas holidays taken by UK residents, by main mode of travel, 2014-18
                                                                                        • Aviation emissions – UK
                                                                                          • Carbon offsetting continues to be controversial
                                                                                            • Cruise/ferry operators are launching cleaner vessels
                                                                                              • Green Speed rail could open up aviation alternatives
                                                                                                • Certification is improving but is still a barrier to ethical travel choices
                                                                                                  • TUI’s greener, fairer pledge
                                                                                                  • Companies and Brands – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                    • Cities of the future
                                                                                                      • Wild at heart
                                                                                                        • Green challenge
                                                                                                          • The war on plastic
                                                                                                            • Meat-free tours
                                                                                                              • Slow train coming
                                                                                                              • Launch Activity and Product Trends

                                                                                                                • Green city breaks
                                                                                                                  • Eco challenge
                                                                                                                    • Rewilding nature, rewilding people
                                                                                                                      • Plastic-free travel
                                                                                                                        • Plant-based travel
                                                                                                                          • Taking the slow lane
                                                                                                                          • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                            • Reducing emissions and recycling are seen as the leading priorities
                                                                                                                              • Reducing poverty is a key priority for long-haul travellers
                                                                                                                                • Flight guilt takes off
                                                                                                                                  • UK breaks and foreign train travel will acquire social kudos
                                                                                                                                    • Six in 10 think companies should pay for sustainability, but four in 10 are willing to pay extra
                                                                                                                                      • Consumers would respond to clearer ethical travel labelling
                                                                                                                                        • 35% of travellers have recommended a travel company because of its ethical reputation
                                                                                                                                        • Consumer Priorities for Ethical Travel

                                                                                                                                          • Decarbonisation and recycling are seen as the biggest ethical travel priorities overall
                                                                                                                                            • Poverty reduction is a leading priority for long-haul travellers
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 16: Ethical travel priorities, November 2019
                                                                                                                                              • Travellers are positive about sustainable hotel practices but often forget to recycle
                                                                                                                                                • Green holidays can be a catalyst for lifestyle changes
                                                                                                                                                • Attitudes Towards Flying

                                                                                                                                                  • Six in 10 holidaymakers travel by air
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 17: Transport modes used for holiday, November 2019
                                                                                                                                                  • 22% of air travellers are ‘frequent holiday fliers’
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 18: Frequency of holiday flying, November 2019
                                                                                                                                                  • Almost half of holidaymakers have experienced flight guilt
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 19: Impact of environmental concerns on flying, November 2019
                                                                                                                                                    • 18% of recent holiday fliers expect to reduce/stop flying in the next five years
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 20: Intentions to fly on holiday over the next five years, November 2019
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 21: Intentions to fly on holiday over the next five years amongst recent fliers, November 2019
                                                                                                                                                    • Environmental and financial concerns are the main reasons people will consider flying less
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 22: Reasons for flying less/not flying over the next five years, November 2019
                                                                                                                                                    • Train brag
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 23: Likely effect of travel behaviour on concerns about flying, November 2019
                                                                                                                                                      • Conflicted travellers
                                                                                                                                                        • 37% of travellers under 40 agree the cost of flying should increase
                                                                                                                                                          • 38% of holidaymakers support a frequent flier levy
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 24: Attitudes towards the cost of flying, November 2019
                                                                                                                                                        • Attitudes Towards Ethical Travel

                                                                                                                                                          • 39% of travellers say they’d be willing to pay extra for an ethical holiday
                                                                                                                                                            • Better labelling has the potential to unlock ethical travel purchases
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 25: Attitudes towards ethical travel, November 2019
                                                                                                                                                              • A strong ethical reputation leads to customer referrals
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 26: Attitudes towards ethical reputation and policy of travel companies, November 2019
                                                                                                                                                            • Ethical Travel in the Local Destination

                                                                                                                                                              • Over-45s are the most likely to say my money should benefit the local people
                                                                                                                                                                • Rising demand for local experiences can help promote ethical tourism
                                                                                                                                                                  • Travel companies can do more to promote local public transport
                                                                                                                                                                    • Half of holidaymakers are willing to take part in an environmental activity
                                                                                                                                                                      • Travel brands need to adapt to flexitarian trend
                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 27: Attitudes towards ethical travel in the local destination, November 2019
                                                                                                                                                                    • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                                                        • Definitions
                                                                                                                                                                          • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                                                            • Consumer research methodology

                                                                                                                                                                            This market report provides in-depth analysis and insight supported by a range of data. At the same time, introductory and top-level content is provided to give you an overview of the issues covered.

                                                                                                                                                                            • Market

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Consumer

                                                                                                                                                                              Mintel's proprietary consumer research provides our analysts with the attitudinal and behavioral data used to provide valuable insight to topical issues.

                                                                                                                                                                            • Brand/Company

                                                                                                                                                                              Mintel provides overviews of the top brands and manufacturers, and uses consumer research to explore attitudes and reactions to brands, as well as insight into what will resonate with consumers.

                                                                                                                                                                            • Data

                                                                                                                                                                              Market reports provide appendices of data to support the research and insight produced. Our tables of data are easily manipulated and downloadable to support your research needs and covers factors from consumer attitudes to market forecasts.

                                                                                                                                                                            Please Note: This is a sample report. All of the figures, graphs, and tables have been redacted.