Kiwi travellers may be aware of unethical travel, but they're not avoiding it - survey

Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed admitted they could do more to reduce its impact.
Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed admitted they could do more to reduce its impact. Photo credit: Kardashian

New Zealanders want to make ethical choices about where they travel and what they do when they are there, but don't spend enough time doing their homework before booking a holiday, according to a new survey.

The issue of unethical travel was highlighted last week when Kim Kardashian caused outrage after posing with what critics say is an abused elephant for an Instagram photo.

Retail chain Kathmandu surveyed over 500 people and found that 35 percent admitted they hadn't looked into the ethics of an animal attraction they were planning to visit.

Around 36 percent said they tried to make ethical travel choices by avoiding operators or attractions that exploit the local community or environment.

Tourism can bring a lot of benefits to areas - but over-tourism can be seriously harmful, and some Kiwis don't care.

Ethical travel survey of New Zealanders results:

  • 72 percent agreed there are places in Aotearoa that are suffering from over-tourism
  • 39 percent agree over-tourism has impacted their travel decisions 
  • 24 percent of those people said they wouldn't change their plans because of over-tourism
  • 37 percent wouldn't be confident to explain what over-tourism actually means
  • 57 percent agree they should be doing more to minimise their environmental impact while travelling 
  • 48 percent believe New Zealanders are viewed as the world's best travellers 
  • 32 percent of Australians say the same
  • 73 percent said that they preferred to invest in experiences more than souvenirs, attempted to use the local language, or sought out authentic cultural experiences
  • 47 percent of Kiwis travelled to tick places off their bucket list
  • 85 percent say they treat their destinations with at least as much respect as their home country

The author of Overbooked, The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism, Elizabeth Becker, says its time to put the spotlight on the harm being done by some in the travel industry.

"It is no longer possible to dismiss criticism of exploding tourism as elite snobbery, of high-end cultural tourism versus T-shirt-clad visitors squeezed on a tour bus," she says.

Despite being aware of the environmental cost of their travel, 57 percent of those surveyed admitted they could do more to reduce its impact.