Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Environmental damage and the rising price of flying

A British surveys reveals that people are more readily accepting the idea that the price of air travel will have to rise to better reflect environmental damage. Usually when prices rise, demand will fall. Will this affect long-haul destinations like South Africa, and particularly the Western Cape with its increased reliance on tourism for economic growth and development? 

Their is no direct answer, but it will make sense to start measuring and monitoring tourist behaviour and not only aggregate tourism number on arrivals and expenditure. For example, how sensitive are tourists to a rise in ticket prices? Does this affect both business and leisure travel? What options do tourists have to adapt to rising prices and which are they most likely to follow? 

From the annual British attitude survey as reported in the Guardian:

Voters are ready to accept a steep rise in air fares to reduce the environmental damage caused by flying, the annual British social attitudes survey reveals today.

Each year, they have asked a representative sample of more than 4,000 people whether they agree or disagree that "the price of a plane ticket should reflect the environmental damage that flying causes, even if it makes air travel much more expensive".

The proportion of those agreeing rose steadily from 36% in 2004 to 49% in the most recent survey, in 2007, while those disagreeing fell from 34% to 28%, with the rest undecided.

Analysts from the National Centre for Social Research (NCSR), which conducted the surveys, said: "We found remarkably low levels of opposition to the idea that ticket prices may have to rise in order to offset environmental damage. This remains the case among current flyers as well as non-flyers and holds across the political spectrum."

Picture: courtesy SA Tourism

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