Our country’s travel industry is at a watershed moment

Americans are increasingly prioritizing sustainability when deciding how and where they travel. At the same time, American transportation innovators are developing new technologies to make the entire mobility value chain more sustainable.

This convergence presents significant economic opportunities for our nation, as well as new considerations for policy makers at the local, state and federal levels. Ensuring the equitable deployment of infrastructure to support greener mobility technology will require industry leaders and government policy makers to work hand in hand.

It’s clear that Americans want to travel more sustainably. More than one in five US travelers responding to an Ipsos survey said they would travel by car more if their personal vehicle produced lower carbon emissions, and 15% said they would do the same for road trips. plane.

Looking to the future, more than two-thirds of respondents said they would take more leisure trips and 28% would take more business trips if Virgin Hyperloop technology was available. Almost half of air travelers would take more frequent leisure trips and 16% of business travelers would take more frequent business trips to distant destinations if Boom Supersonic aircraft technology were available.

It’s not just travelers’ priorities that are changing. Companies are also making ambitious sustainability commitments that could change the way workers come together for offsite conferences and workshops. And as we see more hybrid work environments here to stay, there’s an opportunity to position travel as essential for growth – but likely only if it’s sustainable over the long term. The travel industry therefore sets goals and targets to reduce emissions, minimize waste and conserve natural resources.

Industry investments are ambitious and substantial. General Motors plans to be fully electric by 2035. Ford plans to add four new electric vehicles to its Lincoln lineup by 2026. And Hyundai has announced plans for a 2,200-acre site in Georgia to build cars. battery operated.

Major US airlines, including American, Delta and United, have pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. There is strong pressure underway to dramatically expand sustainable aviation fuels. At the same time, new technologies in development, such as electric vertical take-off and landing (eTOL) aircraft, are poised to reinvent air travel.

In the hospitality industry, Hilton’s hotel chains have partnered with Clean the World, the world’s largest organization to recycle hotel soap and toiletries. Booking.com has created a program to encourage properties on its platform to become more sustainable and provide more transparency to help consumers identify sustainable travel options.

But for this transition to a more sustainable future to succeed, strong private sector investment must be combined with coordinated policies to ensure that new travel technologies are supported by modern infrastructure.

Cars are a prime example. Around 87% of trips are made by car in the country, so an increase in the number of electric vehicles puts certain destinations, such as rural areas, at risk of being left behind if they do not have charging stations. . Even where charging stations are available, wider adoption of electric vehicles means we will need more of them.

Sustainable travel also presents huge opportunities to develop a robust segment of our economy. The US Travel Association – which will host the Future of Travel Mobility Summit in September – estimates that if travel increased by just 5% due to more sustainable travel options, it would result in an additional $50 billion in annual travel spending that , in turn, would support an estimated 850,000 additional American jobs.

We can see where travel in the United States is headed, with new technologies and innovations that will help Americans connect with colleagues, friends and family in more environmentally friendly ways. We need to start preparing now to secure that future.

Yet innovation cannot happen in a vacuum. America’s travel and hospitality sectors, working alongside the transportation and technology sectors, government officials, and communities across the country, can shape an interconnected transportation framework that supports the modern travel economy for generations to come.

Through a coordinated planning effort, we can successfully lead sustainable travel in the United States for the benefit of travelers, the economy and our planet.

Tori Emerson Barnes is the Executive Vice President, Public Affairs and Policy for the US Travel Association.

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