In January 2004, Responsible Travel carried out a survey of 1,000 tourists – the results revealed that two thirds of them didn’t like the effects of mass tourism (in the form of resorts) on local culture and the environment. Almost nine out of ten respondents felt that tour operators had a duty to do more to protect them. Here is our press release that broke down the results.
63% are fed up with beer bellies and Union Jack t-shirts on vacation
Research published by Responsible Travel on 15 March 2004* showed travelers widespread dissatisfaction with mass tourism – both the vacation experience, and the impact on destinations and local people.
The survey shows that tourists have had enough:
- 60% think big tour companies just pump out superficial vacations and it is time they changed
- 57% say too many vacations just offer chips and Sky football in the sun
- 60% have had enough of crowed beaches on resort type vacations
So what do tourists want?:
- 88% say tour operators should have a responsibility for preserving the local environment and culture and benefiting local people
- 80% of people disagree with the statement 'I just want to have fun on vacation: I don't really care about the locals and their environment'
- 80% of people are more likely to book a vacation with a company with a 'responsible' travel policy – a 28% increase since 2001**
In response, Responsible Travel launched the ‘Had enough?’ campaign to demand that the 'Big Three' – Thomas Cook, Thomson Vacations and My Travel – and their subsidiaries, develop and publish responsible travel policies on their websites and brochures, in the interests of destinations, local people, tourists and their shareholders.
Justin Francis, Managing Director and co-founder of Responsible Travel, says, “The survey reveals that tourists' expectations of big operators responsibilities in destinations are now changing quickly. The operators now need to respond to increasing consumer pressure, as well as the concern of local people, NGOs and Governments. This is a wake-up call for Thomson Vacations, Thomas Cook and MyTravel: publish responsible travel policies now or lose more business.
“As mass tourism declines to an all time low market share, tourists are voting with their feet. MyTravel had pre-tax losses of £911m to September 2003 and in the first nine months of 2003 Thomas Cook posted an operating loss of €231m. Our survey tells us that tourists are concerned about the big operators’ practices and are more likely to book with them if they improve.”
The ‘new’ traveler
The survey also identified mainstream tourists changing travel expectations. The ‘new traveler’ is interested in more experiential and authentic travel, which is better for both the tourist and the destination.
When asked what would make their vacation more enjoyable, over 85% said if:
- I could discover new and interesting places by using a local tour guide
- I could eat fresh locally produced food and discover local recipes
- I could learn a little of the local language and meet local people
- I was given advice on local cultures and customs
These findings were backed up by recent Ipsos MORI research*** that showed that independent trips had become the most common form of overseas vacation, eclipsing the traditional package vacation:
- 32% take independent vacations
- 30% take a package vacation with large operators
- 19% take a specialist or tailor-made vacation
‘Had enough?’ – The campaign
The ‘Had enough?’ campaign objectives are supported by Tourism Concern whose Director Tricia Barnett said: “Mass tourism needs to be re-invented. Tourism Concern wants to convince those who run and manage our vacations that tourism can support local people, cultures, environment and economies, while still be exciting and enjoyable.”
The ‘Had enough?’ campaign comprised:
- National press advertising targeting tourists' dissatisfaction with mass tourism
- On-line marketing to gather tourists’ feedback on their vacations with the big three operators
- A viral email campaign to encourage travelers to support Had enough? by visiting our website to add their names to a petition. This was to be presented to the Chief Executives of Thomas Cook, Thomson Vacations and My Travel, demanding that they publish responsible travel policies.
* Telephone survey conducted by TNS – Taylor Nelson Sofres - among 1002 GB adults between 30th January and 1st February 2004
** Ipsos RSL for Tearfund 2001
*** MORI research October 31 – November 2nd 2003