Australian Government - TRA

Accessible research for industry and government

Tourism Research Australia

Knowledge Library Entry

Banner Tourism Research Australia

Voluntary Carbon Offsetting: Who does it?


To investigate the prevalence of carbon offsetting amongst international tourists to Australia between 2008 and 2010 and, using cluster analysis, segment the carbon offsetters into distinct markets.


Carbon offsetting; Segmentation; Environmental behaviour; and Emissions

Key findings

Findings reveal a stable carbon offsetting market, despite a Global Financial Crisis occurring during the reference period.

Three distinct market segments of carbon offsetters were identified.

Travellers from the United Kingdom/Europe were more likely to carbon offset, while those from Asia were less likely to participate in the schemes.

Thus, this could indicate that the social marketing, public discourse and substantial media coverage in the United Kingdom/Europe had enhanced climate change mitigation behaviours.

Please see link to infographic at:


Implications for Practice

The research will be of particular importance to companies who provide carbon offsetting schemes because the findings indicate a relatively stable market for carbon offsetting and deliver critical information surrounding demographics and the trip profile of Australia's international visitors who make voluntary payments to offset their carbon emissions.

Thus, this research allows these companies to develop separate and segment-specific strategies and communication messages to enhance uptake of carbon offsetting initiatives.

The research also raises questions with respect to tourists' sustainable travel behaviour and those who engage in it. The findings may indicate that social marketing and the stage of economic development in a country could influence visitors' sustainable behaviour and mitigation activities.

This research ultimately indicates a need for more advanced consideration of the link between carbon offsetting behaviour and social marketing, as well as greater research into Asian travellers' environmental perceptions and behaviours. Importantly, questions arise surrounding whether there is an opportunity to grow the carbon off-setting market, with exploratory research into the identified cluster groups being needed to determine if there are inherent characteristics that might limit possible future growth in the market, such as being from wealthier social classes.



Publication details

Publication Title:


Voluntary Carbon Offsetting: Who does it?

Full Publication Reference:

McLennan, C. J., Becken, S., Battye, R. & So, K. K. F. (2014; Accepted 24/03/2014). Voluntary Carbon Offsetting: Who does it? Tourism Management.

Publication Author or Authors:

Char-lee J McLennan, Susanne Becken, Rod Battye and Kevin Kam Fung So

Proposed by


Char-lee McLennan


07 5552 7568



Research Fellow (Sustainable Tourism)


Griffith Institute for Tourism, Griffith University