As arguably the world’s leading Online Travel Agent, Booking.com has realized that they are in a unique position to be able to make a difference to the troubling statistics associated with tourism and travel. They work with millions of accommodation partners around the world. While they do not own the properties themselves, Booking.com provides information for travellers to find a place to stay.

Booking.com has stated that they believe they share in the responsibility to help the travel industry tackle its emissions. From the Travel Sustainable Reports which they undertake every year, the OTA has established that more needs to be done to make sustainable travel easier – and sustainable accommodation easier to find. Among the travellers who hadn’t stayed in a sustainable accommodation over the past year, 31% said they didn’t know they existed and 29% said they still didn’t know how to find them.

The good news is that demand for sustainable accommodation is growing year on year. The Sustainable Travel Report by Booking.com found that in 2022:

– 71% of global travellers expressed a desire to travel more sustainably over the coming 12 months

– 70% of global travellers say they’d be more likely to choose a sustainable accommodation, regardless of whether they were looking for one or not

– 78% of global travellers intend to stay in a sustainable property at least once in the coming year

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Booking.com began developing the Travel Sustainable program in 2019. Working with sustainability consultancy Sustainalize, (now ERM),  they designed a list of sustainability initiatives any type of accommodation could implement that are both impactful and practical.

They span five separate categories:

1. Water

2. Waste

3. Greenhouse gas emissions

4. Environmental protection

5. Community support.

This was benchmarked against the attributes already considered by 3rd-party sustainability certifications, like those of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), Green Key and EU Ecolabel, which is considered to be the gold standard in the travel industry.


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In November 2022, Booking.com launched new levels for their Travel Sustainable badge. Each builds on the next, starting at a basic level of sustainability implementation all the way up to 3rd-party certified, which they see as crucial in both encouraging partners to continue on their pathways and recognising the outstanding commitment and investment of those partners who have achieved one of more than 40 certifications or ecolabels.

The Travel Sustainable Levels are designed to better recognize and support the efforts and investments on a property’s sustainability journey – whatever stage they may be at.

While all eligible partners currently receive the same badge, Booking.com has recognized each eligible partner’s sustainability efforts at one of three different levels, or, for those with eligible third-party certification, at a dedicated level.

What is the Booking.com Level 1?  

The property has implemented some impactful sustainability practices

What is the Booking.com Level 2?

The property has made considerable investments and efforts to implement impactful sustainability practices

What is the Booking.com Level Travel Sustainable Program?

The property has made large investments and efforts to implement impactful sustainability practices

Level 3+ Certified

The property has made a strong commitment to sustainability by subscribing to one or more third-party certifications and making a significant difference in the reduction of their environmental impact.

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UPDATE: Sept, 2023: Sustainalize is now owned by ERM

Sustainalize is a Dutch sustainability consulting firm with offices in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. The company works with businesses to measure, disclose and respond to ESG (environmental, social and governance) issues and challenges. Sustainalize supports strategy development and execution, implementation, external reporting and impact measurement across a broad range of sustainability topics, including climate change, biodiversity loss, the availability of resources, diversity and equality, human rights and governance.

Sustainalize uses its in-house expertise on regulations, integrated reporting and communications to create long-term value creation for nearly 200 organizations. This client base is active across a range of different sectors from technology, banking and finance, to retail, aviation and government. Together with its 30+ professionals, Sustainalize is committed to a transition to a sustainable future. Sustainalize is headquartered in Utrecht, the Netherlands and has offices in Brussels, Belgium and Cologne, Germany.


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It is still early days for the Booking.com Travel Sustainable Program.

The good news is that when Booking.com launched Travel Sustainable in 2021, there were less than a hundred thousand recognised properties. Now, more than 1.25 million accommodations globally have now shared at least some information about their sustainability practices. And of that 1.25 million, over 400,000 are being recognised for their efforts to operate more sustainably – making it clearer for travellers where individual accommodations are on their sustainability journeys.


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So how does it work? Is it possible to find a  hotel option that is working to lessen its environmental impact via the Booking.com booking site?

Give it a try yourself! Enter your travel destination and apply the travel sustainable filter on the left. We look forward to the day ALL properties are listed as Level 3+.


This article has been based on information supplied by Booking.com and its Travel Sustainable Program. You can find  more information about the program at the BOOKING.COM TRAVEL SUSTAINABLE HANDBOOK

Most images supplied courtesy of Queensland Tourism. Hotel image is courtesy of the Radisson Hotel, Sydney.

Image Booking.com logo for Travel Sustainable Program

Why do we need to change the way we travel?

 While travel is one of the best things about life, it has proved to have unfortunate, negative consequences for the environment. The rise of mass tourism and cheap flights in the 1970s has given rise to overtourism, with once-pristine beach towns being transformed into concrete jungles. Cultural centres such as Venice in Italy have become almost unliveable for its residents, with pollution issues and strain on the local infrastructure.

Things have to change and there is growing concern in the tourism industry about its future. According to a report in Nature, the travel industry accounts for roughly 8% of the world’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A third of the emissions related to travel come from the accommodation we stay in – an essential part of every trip.

As the world’s largest accommodation finder, Booking.com has stated that: “By now we all know the consequences of unchecked, unabated emissions. It’s the climate crisis we are all facing, right now. We must act now to preserve a world worth experiencing for everyone.”

” A third of the emissions related to travel come from the accommodation we stay in – an essential part of every trip.”


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