There are more than 55 million Americans that can be classified as Geotourists. Geotourism encompasses all aspects of travel -- not just the environment. Its definition -- tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of the place being visited, including its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of its residents -- describes completely all aspects of sustainability in travel, and hits all of the definable touch points associated with providing the authentic travel experiences that travelers demand today.
Findings from the Geotourism: New Trend in Travel study:
Although most travelers are concerned with price and value, 58.5 million Americans say they would pay more to use a travel company that strives to protect and preserve the environment. Most important, the majority (61%) of those who would pay more to use such companies would in fact pay five to ten percent more.
Authenticity is important to travelers. Many (61%) believe their experience is better when their destination preserves its natural, historic, and cultural sites. In addition, 41 percent of travelers say their vacation experience is better when they can see and do something authentic.
The majority of travelers are ready to act to preserve and protect our natural sites. Nearly 91 million travelers (59%) support controlling access to and/or more careful regulation of National Parks and public lands in order to help preserve and protect the environment.
A significant number of travelers (54 million) are inclined to select travel companies that strive to protect and preserve the local environment of the destination. For a smaller group of travelers (17 million), the environment is top of mind when actually making decisions about which travel companies to patronize.
Millions of American travelers will buy from companies and organizations that are culturally and socially oriented. In fact, 46 million travelers buy from specific companies because they know that these businesses donate part of their proceeds to charities.
More than half of all travelers (80 million) are aware of at least one practice employed by travel companies to preserve and protect the environment of destinations. Travelers are most often aware of companies that ask customers to reuse towels/sheets (55 million travelers) and those that use energy saving practices (46 million travelers). More than 32 million travelers are aware of travel companies that recycle and/or that use local vegetation on property grounds.
from The Travel Industry Association, October 2003