Flight shaming will be one of the consumer trends “most likely” to impact the travel industry over the next two years, according to new research.

The ‘flygskam’ [flight shaming] phenomenon started in Scandinavia and could become more common in the UK.

Travel and tourism business leaders surveyed by audit, tax and consulting firm RSM highlighted carbon footprint shaming and sustainability – both mentioned by 37% of respondents – as the consumer trends that will impact their businesses the most in the next 24 months.

MoreComment: The industry needs to act as one to tackle climate change

Comment: Government must act on climate change, not the travel industry

This was followed by other environmental concerns and digital lifestyles, mentioned by 30%.

The survey, which included 326 senior decision makers from tour operators, booking platforms and travel agents, found that many in the trade are responding to the challenge by focusing on new product development seeking to address the sustainability and environmental concerns of customers.

A growing number of operators are offering to offset carbon emissions on behalf of holidaymakers, while others are more actively promoting eco-tourism holidays and city breaks by rail.

Concern also arose over the operation of the Atol protection scheme.

Less than half thought Atol in its current form was fit for purpose with criticisms including inconsistencies in the application of repatriation and the lack of freedom it provided travel agencies.

Despite the challenges, the travel industry remains upbeat, with 86% of respondents reporting optimism about their prospects in the year ahead.

There was also optimistic about the UK’s upcoming Brexit trade negotiations, with 77% saying they were confident that the Government would broker a deal that would protect the industry in the future.

RSM head of travel and tourism Ian Bell said: “The travel sector is becoming increasingly aware of changing consumer attitudes and its own environmental and sustainability obligations and our survey shows that the industry is starting to respond positively.

“While many in the industry were remarkably optimistic at the start of the year, the mood may have darkened slightly as operators become increasingly concerned about the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

“Historically the travel industry has proved to be hugely resilient despite their exposure to global events.

“Given the current headwinds, many operators may need to stay nimble to respond quickly to changing consumer demand.”