The post-pandemic travel destinations with the cleanest air and most affordable hotels

Team Hoo
9th February 2021

Half of people would travel further and pay more for a less polluted holiday - here’s the post-pandemic travel destinations with the cleanest air and most affordable hotels.

Last week, Milan became the first major city to ban smoking within 30ft distance of other people at bus and tram stops, as well as in parks and green spaces, sporting venues, children’s play areas and even cemeteries.

However, it’s not just Milan where the air is getting cleaner. The pandemic imposed restrictions on international and domestic travel around the world mean we’re all breathing a little bit cleaner. It’s estimated that nitrogen dioxide levels dropped by as much as 10-50% across the UK during the first lockdown, with other global cities seeing similar patterns. 

But how important is air pollution levels to holidaymakers? 

It turns out, it’s pretty important, according to our latest research. Hoo surveyed 2,569 people on their feelings around air quality and its influence within the holiday booking process.

The results show that 50% of people would opt for a destination with better air quality if it meant travelling for longer. Perhaps more notable is the fact that 48% of respondents stated that they would pay more money to holiday in a location with better air quality over somewhere more affordable but with higher levels of pollution. 

With this in mind, Hoo also looked at which of the world’s top travel destinations currently offer the perfect holiday mix of affordable hotel rates and low levels of air pollution. 

Hoo looked at the average cost of a hotel per night across 47 destinations around the world, as well as air quality pollution based on particulate concentration levels during the highest hour of the day on the worst air quality day of the year, measured in particulates per metre cubed (µg/m3). Hoo then gave each destination a pollution-free hotel price score to reveal where offers the best mix of both.

The research shows that for those looking for an affordable holiday destination while remaining conscious about the level of air pollution they’re exposed to, Rio de Janeiro is the place to go. 

On average, a hotel in Rio de Janeiro will set you back just £49 per night while at 35 µg/m3, it’s home to the third-lowest levels of air pollution, with just Auckland and Toronto ranking better.

As a result, Rio de Janeiro ranks top of Hoo’s hotel air pollution index with a score of 17.1. 

Moscow ranks second with an index score of 18.9. Air pollution levels are currently 41 µg/m3, while the average hotel will cost you just £46 per night. 

Bogota (24), Las Vegas (28.2), Toronto (28.3), Chicago (29.3), Sao Paulo (29.3), Auckland (30.1), Vancouver (33.8) and Lison (35.4) also rank in the top 10 with the best ratio of affordable hotel rates and clean air. 

In contrast, Cape Town ranks as the worst destination for clean air quality. While the city is home to an average hotel price of just £66 per night, air quality levels are an astonishing 1,680 µg/m3. 

Singapore also ranks poorly with 490 µg/m3 and while much less polluted than Cape Town, Singapore is also home to a cost of £152 per night for the average hotel. 

Our co-founder, Adrian Murdock, commented:

“One silver lining of the current pandemic is that a restriction on international and domestic travel have caused pollution levels to plummet in many areas. 

While air pollution levels may not be the first criteria for some when deciding on their next holiday destination, it’s important enough for some to spend more, and even travel further to get there. Which is a tad ironic given this longer period of travel is arguably helping to contribute to higher air pollution levels. 

Of course, once the world does reopen we’re sure to see pollution levels climb once again so if you are looking to book some of the best places for clean air, get there first before everyone else does. 

It’s also important to note that clean air isn’t the sole factor in a health-conscious holiday. For example, Las Vegas ranks pretty high in our index, but you can be sure that a trip to the City of Sin is going to be bad for your health even if air pollution isn’t the reason.”

Survey of 2,569 people carried out by Find Out Now (January 22nd 2021).

How important is air quality in your decision making process when booking a holiday?AnswerPercentageNot important at all32%Somewhat important45%Very important23%

Would you opt for one destination with better air quality than another if it meant having to travel for longer?AnswerPercentageNo50%Yes50%

Would you pay more to travel to a destination with better air quality over another with worse air pollution?AnswerPercentageNo54%Yes46%

Table shows the top travel destinations, cost of a hotel, air pollution levels and a ratio score based on the most affordable and least polluted areasCityAverage hotel price per night (Jan 2021)Air quality pollution - particulates µg/m3 (2019)Hotel pollution price ratio scoreRio de Janeiro£493517.1Moscow£464118.9Bogota£366624.0Las Vegas£525428.2Toronto£833428.3Chicago£813629.3Sao Paulo£417229.3Auckland£913330.1Vancouver£913733.8Lisbon£744835.3Madrid£715136.1Barcelona£1054244.3Istanbul£549149.2Bangkok£559652.7Rome£935853.9Warsaw£4911154.1Athens£866555.9Taipei City£817258.0Lima£3915058.5Manila£668858.5Melbourne£1125662.5Mexico City£4315165.5Brussels£887565.8Hong Kong£719768.7Tokyo£1325370.0Santiago£5812170.7Berlin£858874.8Vienna£1027475.4Zurich£1844277.4Amsterdam£1057578.4Dublin£1207590.4New York£26841110.0London£14480115.5Paris£17375129.6Mumbai£46320147.4Seoul£105161169.7San Francisco£98197193.7Sydney£128169217.1Shanghai£128173222.2Kuala Lumpur£45542244.9Johannesburg£50529267.1Delhi£36988358.8Dubai£202183369.6Beijing£148251371.3Reykjavik£93435404.6Singapore£152490746.6Cape Town£6616891122.2SourcesTrivagoNY TimesIndex score: price x pollution level / 100

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