Sustainable travel in an era of disruption: impact of COVID-19 on sustainable tourism attitudes

This study assesses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on travelers’ attitudes towards sustainable tourism and their anticipated travel behavior.


The COVID-19 pandemic brought travel and tourism to a halt. However it also provided an opportunity to restart tourism in a more sustainable way. The study focused on potential changes the global health crises may have induced on the consumer perspective.

Problem solution

The customer journey is approached from the consumer perspective and focuses on how COVID-19 has influenced (or not) the following aspects:

  • Consumer’s understanding and appreciation of sustainability
  • The extent to which this understanding has influenced their attitudes towards sustainable travel choices
  • The extent to which this change is represented in their actual and projected travel behaviour throughout the travel decision making process
  • Conditions that may foster a more sustainable travel behaviour
The project team consisted of:
  • Bernadett Papp: Senior Researcher, ETFI
  • Dr. Jasper Heslinga: Senior Researcher, ETFI
  • Dr. Paul Peeters: Professor of Sustainable Tourism Transport, CSTT
  • Ivar Neelis: Researcher, Sustainable Tourism Transport, CSTT
  • Jennifer Iduh: ETC Executive Unit
  • Lyublena Dimova: ETC Executive Unit
  • James Arnold: ETC Executive Unit

A large-scale survey was conducted in 5 selected European countries: Germany, the UK, France, Italy and the Netherlands.


The project conducted the following results:

  • Pre-pandemic, current and projected travel behaviour of the respondents do align, indicating a very limited impact of the pandemic on the likelihood of adopting more sustainable travel behaviour in the future.
  • The value orientation, belief and norm patterns of the respondents proved to be good predictors of travel behaviour pre-COVID-19 and the projected travel behaviour.
  • The analysis of pre-pandemic, current and projected travel behaviour, value orientation, belief and norm patterns revealed four distinct clusters.
  • Constraints found to have a significant impact on the likelihood of adopting more sustainable travel practices in the future are money and time.

Read the full document here.

This research project ran from June 2021 till January 2023

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