Commentary: How can travel-starved passengers fly more sustainably in Southeast Asia?

Studies show tourists are willing to fork out more to travel sustainably too. A survey published in 2021 found that more than half of visitors to a small Indonesian island were willing to pay up to US$7.50 extra per night for hotels certified as green.

So how can we minimize the environmental impact of our post-pandemic adventures abroad?

CHOOSE REGIONAL DESTINATIONS

An easy way to minimize the carbon footprint of your holiday is to minimize travel time. That would mean choosing nearby destinations when planning a trip.

According to the International Civil Aviation Organization’s carbon emissions calculator, a round trip from Singapore to London generates 933kg of CO2 (carbon dioxide) – which is roughly an eighth of an average Singaporean’s annual carbon footprint.

In contrast, a round trip to Bangkok produces 183kg of CO2. While emissions per kilometer traveled in short-haul flights typically exceed that of long-haul flights, less time spent in the air equates to less carbon pollution overall.

How you fly also determines how much you emit. According to UK government data, in comparison to an economy-class passenger, a business-class passenger emits three times more CO2 per kilometer traveled, while a first-class passenger emits four times more. Upgraded seats take up more space, so account for a larger portion of the plane’s pollution.

Other perks of regional getaways include saving money, travel time and jet lag. If you are keen to visit a faraway place, consider an extended holiday and commute to other cities by public transport during your stay.

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