How the Travel Industry Can Fast Charge the Electric Vehicle Movement

blue electric vehicle on a charger
by Samantha Sitt
Content Director
  • See the latest Electric Vehicle (EV) Travel Research from Longwoods International and Miles Partnership here. 
  • See our webinar on U.S. Road Trips and EV Travel with Longwoods International, the Colorado Tourism Office, and the Arizona Office of Tourism, held on August 9, 2023, here.
white electic vehicle being charged in front of trees

The age of the electric vehicle (EV) is upon us. In today’s world, it’s hard to drive far without seeing an EV quietly pass you by. From reduced noise pollution to lower carbon emissions, the adoption of EVs is a partial but critical solution in the fight against climate change. 

With greater accessibility to resources, new funding opportunities, and growing consumer demand, now more than ever, the tourism and hospitality industry must embrace its role in advancing EV tourism while benefiting from the impacts. 

The Current State of EV Tourism

Road trips remain one of the most popular forms of domestic travel in the U.S. despite the return of global travel in a post-pandemic world. According to our survey of American travelers with Longwoods International, 95% of respondents planned a road trip in 2022 alone. 

More recently, the 2023 edition of this research highlighted that 36% of travelers own or lease an EV, while 38% have taken a day or overnight trip in an EV. Research also revealed that more than half (52%) of all Americans are very likely or somewhat likely to make an EV their next car purchase or lease. This strong interest in EVs will need to be met with increased availability and accessibility of charging infrastructure—requiring significant investment at the federal, state and private levels. 

EV Policies & Funding

There is a positive outlook for the EV movement. Generous federal policies and funding have been approved for the expansion of charging and alternative fuel infrastructure. Instituted as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Inflation Reduction Act, passed by the Biden administration in November 2021 and August 2022 respectively, two programs from these acts will provide more than $7.5 billion to build a national EV charging network: 

National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program

The National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program provides all 50 states and Puerto Rico with $5 billion in funding to build a network of EV charging stations. In September 2022, all state NEVI plans were approved.

Charging and Fueling Infrastructure Discretionary Grant Program

Providing a total of $2.5 billion, the Charging and Fueling Infrastructure (CFI) Discretionary Grant Program funding will be available through 2026 in annual tranches. The first round of CFI applications have already been submitted and recipients will be awarded $700 million in funding for fiscal years 2022 and 2023.

With the goal of making EVs equitable and accessible to all, the program has two categories of funding designed to address gaps in the national charging network. Priority will be given to rural, underserved, and lower-income communities. 

  • Community Grants: Available for projects that will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increase access to alternative fuel infrastructure. These grants are specifically targeted for diverse, rural and remote communities and locations that otherwise may be underserved with EV infrastructure.
  • Corridor Grants: Available for projects to support the expansion of public charging and fueling infrastructure along Alternative Fuel Corridors (AFCs).

Barriers to EV Adoption 

Despite advances in EV technology, there are still numerous barriers to EV adoption. As noted in our 2023 research with Longwoods International, “difficulty finding charging stations” and “lengthy charging times to fully charge electric vehicle” were the top two barriers to traveling in an EV—resulting in 51% and 48% of answers respectively.

Miles and Longwoods green graph with yellow bars

What is range anxiety? When driving an EV, range anxiety is the fear of not being able to reach your destination or next charging point before running out of power.

Benefits of EV Tourism

While the prevalence of EVs has evident environmental impact, the adoption of this mode of transportation comes with other benefits that the tourism and hospitality industry should take advantage of.

Arizona electric vehicles page

The Arizona Office of Tourism is engaged with other agencies in supporting the rollout of EV infrastructure across the state and marketing these options to EV travelers. 

Attracting New Travelers

According to’s 2021 Sustainable Travel Report, 46% of travelers cited the pandemic has made them want to travel more sustainably. Additional data from our 2023 research highlighted that 48% of U.S. travelers see EVs as “better for the planet/environmentally friendly.” As these audiences demand more eco-friendly and authentic travel experiences, EV tourism is one route that the industry can take to begin branding itself as more environmentally friendly.

More specifically, destinations and industry businesses can increase visitation and attract EV owners—making up nine percent of U.S. adults—by minimizing perceived challenges and ensuring adequate and convenient charging infrastructure is available. Our 2023 research also highlighted that 40% of U.S. travelers are considering an EV for their next road trip. While this is still a niche, yet fast-growing, audience, these travelers also tend to be more affluent.

Positive Socioeconomic Impact

With new EV tourists comes a positive social and economic impact. Charging an EV can take as little as 20 minutes or as long as 50+ hours to reach 80 percent depending on the charger type. Time spent charging is time travelers can use to explore a destination and spend money at local shops, restaurants and attractions. Furthermore, hotels, attractions, and other industry businesses that offer charging can benefit from this additional source of revenue. 

Promoting EV tourism is also a great way to promote slow travel—encouraging visitors to become immersed in a destination, engage with the community, and learn about the local culture.

Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Taking into account the electricity used to power EVs and the emissions associated with manufacturing, EVs still have a lower carbon footprint and emit lower levels of GHG emissions compared to the average gasoline car. Lower GHG emissions will keep destinations and natural spaces cleaner, improve air quality, and provide health benefits to travelers and locals alike.  

Lifecycle GHGs for an electric vehicle and gasoline car graph

*this estimate varies, most importantly on the mix of renewable vs. carbon based energy used to charge an EV

Action Steps for the Tourism & Hospitality Industry

Whether you’re a state tourism office or local business such as a hotel or museum, now is the time to capitalize on, and support, the electric vehicle movement. 

1. Infrastructure Planning

States, cities, counties, and businesses need to take advantage of EV policies and funding opportunities. State tourism offices and DMOs should partner with key players such as departments of transportation and energy offices to influence EV infrastructure planning. Local businesses should also engage with these partners—with the potential to be a location for new charging stations—and apply for grants to establish their own infrastructure. 

Organizations such as the Electrification Coalition and Clean Cities Coalition Network can help destinations and groups navigate policies and develop programs within the EV landscape. 

The Joint Office of Energy and Transportation also provides support and expertise to implement programs from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. See its Drive Electric resource hub for additional information.

2. Community Education 

The tourism and hospitality industry should take responsibility for educating the community about the benefits of electrification. Support from residents and local businesses is critical in advancing EV infrastructure and adoption. This could include showing partners how to apply for grants, sharing infrastructure updates, and providing resources. For example, the Colorado Tourism Office is working with the Colorado Energy Office on EV CO—a hub for EV adoption and travel in the state. 

3. Marketing EV Initiatives 

Once EV planning and initiatives have been put into place, destinations and industry businesses can begin marketing that message to both travelers and locals. From promoting eco-friendly amenities on business listings to sharing an authentic commitment to sustainability, creating awareness is essential to reaching EV owners and sustainably minded travelers. Arizona offers an EV travel portal as a resource for travelers including integrating with PlugShare, the world’s leading user-generated portal for information on EV charging options. 

Environmentally friendly e-mobility in Slovenia page

Slovenia has made a major commitment to “green mobility” as one part of a broader commitment to developing one of the world’s leading sustainable visitor destinations. Another example is Colorado’s investment in EV infrastructure and marketing as part of its greater destination stewardship

4. A Broader Commitment to Sustainability & Stewardship 

Finally, EVs are just one part of creating a more sustainable future for the tourism and hospitality industry. Sustainable travel and ultimately net zero travel can only occur through action across every part of our industry—not just by how we travel. 

Get in touch

Let's work together
· Contact Us · Contact Us · Contact Us