I develop creative methods of sustainable tourism production and consumption for the tourism and hospitality industries. I have conducted around 150 courses for more than 3000 businesses on how to market and communicate sustainability, commissioned by the UNWTO, European Commission, national tourist boards, national parks, industry associations and businesses in over 15 countries, as well as numerous reports to promote pro-sustainable behaviour in tourism businesses for UNEP, UNWTO, UNCTAD, UNDP, VisitEngland, VisitWales, Fáilte Ireland, Fair Trade Tourism South Africa, the Catalan Tourist Board, WWF, Travel Foundation, and others. I have thoroughly enjoyed my consultancy projects, which include writing the feasibility study for the Global Sustainable Tourism Council; the development and operating a single process of accreditation of sustainable tourism certification programmes for VisitEngland, VisitWales, and Northern Ireland Tourist Board; the development of a methodology to improve the project management of sustainable tourism projects based on Prince2; the analysis of the market for sustainable tourism and gap analysis for the Chilean industry to develop a sustainable tourism industry; an advisory role for the Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism to identify sustainable tourism project evaluation criteria for UNEP; the design and consultation of the European Charter for tourism in protected areas certification criteria and accreditation procedures for Europarc Federation; Monitoring and evaluation of an online marketing tool to promote sustainable development for the International Finance Corporation- World Bank group; the feasibility study for a Fair trade tourism standard and label for the Fair Trade Labelling Organisation; and a sustainable supply chain management demonstration project for European tour operators and certified accommodation suppliers funded by EU LIFE; amongst others.
I enjoy writing journal articles that provide rigour and reflection to the industry impact of my consultancy. I write about different aspects of sustainability marketing; corporate social responsibility and corporate social reporting; the relation between sustainability motivations, practices and learning; sustainable supply chain management; and I am the most published academic on sustainable tourism certification. I am the co-editor of the Journal of Sustainable Tourism (ABS 3*). To date I have supervised 17 PhD students to completion and examined 24. I am looking forward to supervising new PhD students.
Since September 2019, I am the Principal Investigator for the University of Surrey in a €23.5m Interreg funded project to reduce winter seasonality in the UK and France by supporting the development of experiential, sustainable tourism offer that improves the economy, contributes to healthy communities and preserves the environment. I contribute in the Global Challenges Research Fund project to reduce water consumption in hotels in the Dominican Republic, in partnership with Aguardio. During 2020 I was contracted by the European Commission to organise the stakeholder consultation for the European Tourism Convention, and to prepare a report to inform EC policy on sustainable tourism measurement methods. Between 2017 and 2020, I delivered a sustainability pledge system for members of the specialist travel association AITO that is more creative and engaging for consumers than traditional sustainability certification approaches, which is providing detailed evidence of the process of sustainability decision-making by businesses.
MAN1109 Sustainable tourism and transport
MAN3130 Sustainable operations management
PhD research seminars
Director of SWELL: Centre for Sustainability and Well-being in the Visitor Economy
Member of the Independent Advisory Group, Travalyst
Head of Impact of Travindy
12 OCT 2020
European Commission contracts Surrey staff to manage stakeholder consultation for the European Tourism Convention
27 FEB 2020
Professor Xavier Font awarded prestigious Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship to help drive more sustainable tourism
24 FEB 2020
University of Surrey’s Professor Xavier Font appointed to Duke of Sussex’s new Travalyst coalition to promote sustainable travel
In the media
This project contributes to realise the potential of common natural and cultural assets to deliver innovative and sustainable growth in the French-English Channel (FCE) region. With a budget over €23m, to our knowledge, this is the largest sustainable tourism project ever funded by the European Commission, and will provide an excellent platform for experimentation and data collection. The project will contribute to reduce seasonality in the Oct-March period by supporting the development of experiential, sustainable tourism offer that improves the economy, contributes to healthy communities and preserves the environment. To break the cycle and successfully extend the season, EXPERIENCE will develop a new tourism strategy to tackle all the challenges at once. We will capitalise on successes with experiential tourism observed in other countries. We will apply this to the FCE region to attract off-season visitors. The new strategy is composed of 5 delivery plans designed to break existing tourism convention and bring global innovation in season extension to our region. We will:
- Unite and train traditional (tourism offices) and atypical actors (foresters/artisans) to recognise unique regional tourism selling points
- Create new off-season tourism offer, harnessing regional selling points to create exciting itineraries
- Adapt regional summer tourism infrastructure for off-season use
- Promote the FCE region for experiential tourism Oct-Mar
- Ensure offer is demand-driven for continued off-season visitors growth in FCE region
Postgraduate research supervision
I supervise postgraduate research students on topics relating to sustainable production and consumption, and the design and evaluation of sustainable tourism policies. I am looking forward to accepting new PhD students to start from September 2022.
I enjoy teaching at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels: there is something very exciting about teaching our first year students, who are passionate about learning and keen to absorb all sorts of new ideas. Our final year students are capable of producing outstanding pieces of work that are of relevance to daily sustainability operations. And our postgraduate students bring a wealth of international examples to the classroom that allows us to question much theory and makes us reflect on the need for culturally sensitive transfer of sustainability practices.
Workshop methodologies based on overarching knowledge structures are necessary for a shift of the tourism sector towards sustainability. We adopted a participatory action research approach and designed a workshop methodology based on the main tenets and tools of the theory of change, design thinking, and sustainable business models. We tested this methodology within a project initiated by a destination management organisation to promote innovation during the covid-19 crisis and used the results to identify improvements and recommendations for future applications. Although further tests are needed, the study proved that the developed methodology has great potential for promoting the systemic change, creativity, collaboration, empathy, and empowerment that are necessary for a sustainability shift.
There is limited research studying how pro-environmental behavioural intentions gained in a tourism context subsequently influence intentions and actual behaviour at home. This study reports on a three-stage study that surveys Chinese domestic tourists on holiday, and at home one week and one month after the holiday experience. The findings suggest that the stated pro-environmental intention on holiday does not convert into actual pro-environmental behaviour at home. Neither pro-environmental intention nor pro-environmental behaviour are seen to change over time or location. It is the availability of infrastructure (physical context) that affects a change, as evidenced by Dinghu Mountain National Nature Reserve, which provides environmental information and significantly more facilities to enable pro-environmental behaviour than Chinese nationals find in their daily home environment. Implications are offered for ways to apply the ABC theory to policies that seek to achieve long-term environmental behavioural change, such as strong government policy interventions.
Linear logic models are insufficient to understand how interventions work in complex areas such as sustainable tourism. We present Participatory Systems Mapping (PSM), a novel method to develop shared understandings and collective management of complex policy issues among stakeholders. We use PSM with stakeholders in Barcelona to support the design of an upcoming evaluation of an existing sustainability programme. Discussion during workshops, and analysis of the PSM map produced, suggest sharing best practices and improving peer-to-peer learning are pivotal to improving sustainability. We show how a complex systems approach, implemented via PSM, can provide a more holistic understanding of the contexts and interactions of tourism policy. We offer learning and guidance on how the method can be used by others.
Despite Volunteer Tourism (VT) being firmly rooted in sustainability, there is a lack of detailed understanding of how the VT supply chain influences sustainability. Specifically, while recent analytical frameworks evaluating relations in the VT supply chain have detected power imbalances amongst the main stakeholders, little is known about how and why the different active components of VT stakeholders’ relations influence sustainability. Based on a case study of the four main stakeholders in VT (sending and receiving organizations, volunteers, and host projects), this paper illustrates the nuanced details of how collaborative relations within the supply chain can lead to sustainability. The study determines how and why VT organizations’ values are the main drivers for the VT supply chain to achieve sustainability outcomes. It demonstrates how operationalising power-sharing and shared decision-making throughout the whole supply chain enables VT to improve sustainability performance. In the surveyed host projects, accumulative short-term outcomes (based on skills transfer and confidence building) can facilitate long-term transformative change such as social mobility.
While the increasing number of tourism certification programmmes has allowed for bottom-up initiatives among local players involved with sustainable tourism efforts, in doing so, it has led to market confusion, and high start-up costs. In order to understand how to best set high standards for sustainable tourism and ecotourism certification programmmes around the world, and to make these programmmes widely beneficial, the Rainforest Alliance has spearheaded a feasibility study for a global tourism accreditation body, entitled the Sustainable Tourism Stewardship Council. © 2003 X. Font et al.
This paper analyses environmental decision-making against two axes, motivations and decision-making processes, to understand the reasons for pro-environmental behaviour by the managements of Spanish Eco-management and Audit Scheme (EMAS)-certified hotels. Mixed methods were used to study perceptions of EMAS and reasons for being certified, with current and lapsed EMAS-certified firms triangulated against expert interviews and documentary evidence. Four groups of hotels were differentiated: Strategic hotels (22%) (with high levels of integrated environmental management), Followers (48%), Greenwashers (11%) and Laggers (19%) (with low levels of integrated environmental management). Most hotels were found to be internally driven in their purpose and ad hoc in their decision-making, with limited understanding of externally driven benefits and motivation for more systematic management systems. This questions the success of EMAS as both a continuous improvement management and as a market-based regulation tool for hotels. Few hotels overall related high environmental standards to the possibilities of gaining market advantage: most wished to avoid legal challenges. The paper also illustrates the ways in which hotels opportunistically switch certification systems to get what they see as a better deal.
Sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) encapsulates the trend to use purchasing policies and practices to facilitate sustainable development at the tourist destination. Most research has focused on environmental aspects of manufacturing, while other aspects of sustainability or the challenges for the service sector are largely ignored. Yet SSCM is particularly important for tour operators, as the product depends on the activities of suppliers, such as accommodation, transport and activities. Therefore, tour operators' contribution to sustainable tourism will be more effective through the definition and implementation of policies that acknowledge responsibility for the impacts of suppliers. Exploratory research of SSCM practices amongst tour operators generated a wide range of examples of good practice across the whole supply chain, and recommendations are made for more widespread engagement.
Tourism certification has emerged as a tool to reduce environmental impacts and gain competitive advantage, and been promoted on the basis of efficiency-based eco-savings. This paper explores the successes and challenges of five programs operating partly or wholly in developing countries that have introduced socioeconomic criteria to complete the triple bottom line of sustainability. The analysis suggests that social standards are ambiguous; the assessment methodologies are inconsistent and open to interpretation; there is considerable variation on what is understood as sustainable depending on the type of tourism companies targeted; and the programs working more intensely on social issues will have the greatest challenges to expand. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article presents a grounded theory to explain why some small businesses in tourism adopt sustainable business practices while others do not, even when they share environmental and wider sustainability concerns. It does so based on research undertaken among business owners in Crete. The paper starts by considering studies on sustainability awareness, knowledge and the mechanisms for accepting responsibility. Secondly, it summarises the influence of task difficulty and effort on sustainability self-efficacy. Thirdly, it focuses on social comparisons and vicarious experiences, as a way of learning what is important. Finally, it examines powerlessness due to perceived situational constraints. In so doing, the study finds that self-efficacy helps to explain sustainable attitude formation and the attitude-behaviour gap; it partly shifts the locus of responsibility for an inability to act sustainably away from the individual and towards their context. The paper contributes to the theoretical literature on small businesses and sustainability, and leads to new avenues for policy interventions.
This article reports on the benchmarking of organizational structure, governance and finances of accreditation in a number of industries and certification programs in tourism, as part of the research on the feasibility and desirability of a Sustainable Tourism Stewardship Council. There are a variety of governance structures widely accepted and potentially transferable to new accreditation bodies, with the biggest changes coming in the form of outsourcing the accreditation function from standard setting and compliance with ISO guides. Financial benchmarking has shown great weaknesses in the sector, over-relying on seed funding from donors and the general inability of the sector to be self-financing, which casts a shadow over the long term survival of accreditation in its present form. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.
This chapter considers whether certifying (small- and medium-sized) tourism businesses for sustainability will contribute to greater consumer interest and build the market for ecotourism and sustainable tourism. The chapter reviews the literature on green consumer behaviour and sustainable tourism demand and the limited works available on the market for certified sustainable tourism. It also investigates key marketing challenges (as presented in the literature) in the green and sustainability marketplaces with respect to positioning, branding, business-to-business promotion and distribution. It is concluded that, while certification may be a valid method to involve businesses in quality and sustainability oversight of their businesses, there is insufficient evidence to suggest that certification of sustainable tourism will have market benefits, and that such benefits should not be used to justify government, NGO or donor support of tourism certification.
This chapter reflects on the ability of PAN (Protected Area Network) Parks to deliver the expected benefits of certification to both national parks and stakeholder tourism businesses in Europe. The anticipated benefits included an improvement of the product through better management and an increased volume of business from certification branding and marketing. It is indicated that while both certified and applicant PAN parks report a range of benefits, there is an equally long list of challenges and costs that parks face both to behave in a more sustainable way and to prove this to PAN Parks for verification purposes. The chapter discusses the feasibility of providing benefits through working towards meeting the criteria and verification requirements.
This study explores the way in which consumers interpret and process the marketing and communication of sustainable forms of tourism in destinations, in order to inform policy makers about the appropriateness of different types of sustainability messages. Through a thematic analysis of focus group data, we explore the ways in which consumers engage with, and respond to, explicit discourses of sustainability in marketing a tourist destination. We find that overt discourses of sustainability are often rejected by consumers, thus suggesting that messages concerned with sustainability should place greater priority upon consumer experience and opportunities afforded by the purchase and consumption of the travel experience (that happens to be sustainable) they can expect at their chosen destination. As such, commitments to sustainability manifest within organisational philosophy and practice should not drive the principle, overt discourse communicated to consumers. Rather, as embedded within product and practice, such messages would have greater power and effect if they occupied a more subliminal position in destination marketing materials.
This research note outlines the results from a consultation exercise carried out by Tourfor, a European Commission project aiming to develop an ecolabel for forest-based recreation and tourism, based on implementing an environmental management system. The paper will first present the rationale of the project and then discuss the willingness of providers and agencies to apply for this ecolabel, perceived benefits, criteria, and the ecolabel management methods. The paper concludes that there is a critical mass of sites willing to apply for the ecolabel, and outlines suggestions from the respondents regarding the ecolabel.
Little is known about the factors underlying the pro-environmental behaviour of marketing managers. This paper explores the determinants of green marketing practices in the Red Sea hotel sector in Egypt. The research model assesses green marketing practices against the personal and organisational values of the marketing managers, together with a range of organisational and demographic variables expected to influence hotels’ environmental behaviour. From a valid sample of 89 marketing managers responsible for 194 hotels, it was found that organisational contextual variables, and in particular targeting Western tourists, being affiliated to an international hotel chain and the marketers’ own demographics, including age, academic subject studied and gender, were the best predictors of more proactive green marketing. Personal environmental values did not explain the pro-environmental behaviour of marketers, and the organisational environmental values that had explained part of their ethical behaviour had resulted from voluntarism rather than utilitarian or conformance-based values. Government policies also appeared to be ineffective determinants. The implications for green marketing practices are also discussed.
Sustainability and Poverty Alleviation in Developing Countries. The Role of the Hotelier and the Researcher. This article reflects on the process of sustainable change that took place within a project in Colombia to improve the contribution of hotels towards poverty alleviation. Most donor projects for poverty alleviation are community based projects, usually business start-ups, or capacity building of small firms. A forgotten area of research and practice has been the benefits of the supply chains of hotels and other tourism companies, particularly in mass tourism destinations. This action research project considers the behaviour of hotels towards their corporate social responsibility, and the meaning of actions taken and planned as the outcome of a workshop.
Sustainable tourism is not a static target, but a dynamic process of change, a transition. This book considers how monitoring using indicators can assist tourism to make such a sustainability transition. It encourages the reader to view tourism from a broad, interdisciplinary perspective and draws on material from a wide range of sources. The book explains why monitoring is important for different groups of stakeholders; public and private sector, NGOs and communities. It also examines important monitoring considerations such as what and where to measure, how much will monitoring cost and how the data can be presented. The book puts particular emphasis on indicator use and implementation. It highlights the process and techniques to develop and use indicators and then provides clear and detailed examples of monitoring in practice around the globe at different geographic scales. © G.A. Miller and L. Twining-Ward 2005. All rights reserved.
Tour operators requesting their contracted overseas accommodations providers to apply, measure and report their sustainability actions are facing a number of barriers when trying to ensure the effective implementation of environmental sustainability criteria in particular. This article reviews how sustainability systems are being challenged by organizational habit and perceptions rather than analytical decision-making with respect to the relationship between health and safety, quality and sustainability. Environmental indicators are identified as the most conflictive; the key findings demonstrate that most challenges require a change in human behaviour rather than a technical solution. The data suggests that tour operators need to develop sustainability auditing tools that consider the impacts upon health, safety and quality within the accommodations. The Travelife sustainability auditing system provides a useful case study to demonstrate the necessary requirement for a complementary approach when conducting accommodations audits.
Volunteer tourism organisations are largely unaccountable for the claims they make about generating benefits from the projects that they sell. The few evaluations of how volunteer tourism projects fail or succeed tend to underestimate the importance of contextual factors affecting the mechanisms introduced to achieve a desired sustainability outcome. Realistic evaluation is a recently developed methodology to critically develop testable context-mechanism-outcome (CMO) propositions that explain what works, for whom, under which circumstances. Our study makes a theoretical contribution by uniquely integrating realistic evaluation with collaboration theory to study the volunteer tourism supply chain, in order to demonstrate how to develop an evaluative framework to map out the components of CMO configurations. Our study also makes a methodological contribution by unpacking the black box of the mechanisms to deliver sustainable change through the supply chain of the volunteer tourism industry, which can be subsequently used to systematically monitor and evaluate context-specific circumstances that affect how different volunteering supply chains affect the sustainability of the projects’ outcomes.
Programs to certify "green" or sustainable tourism standards are rapidly growing, and it is possible that certification might change in function and effect from awarding excellence to becoming de facto requirements to trade. Because certification often relies on governmental support, it could be perceived as an anti-competitive barrier to trade in the context of international practice such as the General Agreement on Trade in Services, which could reduce the appeal of standards as a self-regulatory method. This paper provides a pro-sustainability standards reading of the agreement and related World Trade Organization documents to discuss what policies and practices might be criticized as trade-restrictive and provides arguments against such criticisms. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article proposes that reactance theory can be used to better understand how tourists’ perceptions of climate change affect their travel decisions. Reactance theory explains how individuals value their perceived freedom to make choices, and why they react negatively to any threats to their freedom. We study the psychological consequences of threatening tourist's freedoms, using a range of projective techniques: directly, using photo-expression, and indirectly, through collage, photo-interviewing and scenarios. We find that reactance theory helps to explain the extent of travel to two destinations: Svalbard and Venice, providing a nuanced understanding of how travellers restore their freedom to travel through three incremental stages: denying the climate change threat, reducing tensions arising from travel and heightening demand particularly for the most visibly threatened destinations. The theory suggests a fourth stage, helplessness, reached when consumers dismiss the value of destinations once they can no longer be enjoyed, but for which we, as yet, have no data. Reactance theory questions the validity of awareness-raising campaigns as behavioural change vehicles, provides alternative explanations of why the most self-proclaimed, environmentally aware individuals travel frequently, and helps identify nuanced, socially acceptable forms of sustainability marketing, capable of reducing resistance to change.
As increased stakeholder pressure requires companies to be transparent about their CSR practices, it is essential to know how reliable corporate disclosure mechanisms are, testing the gap between corporate social responsibility claims and actual practice. This study benchmarks corporate social responsibility policies and practices of ten international hotel groups of particular importance to the European leisure market. We found that corporate systems are not necessarily reflective of actual operations, environmental performance is eco-savings driven, labour policies aim to comply with local legislation, socio-economic policies are inward looking with little acceptance of impacts on the destination, and customer engagement is limited. Generally larger hotel groups have more comprehensive policies but also greater gaps in implementation, while the smaller hotel groups focus only on environmental management and deliver what they promised. As the first survey of its kind in tourism, both the methodology and the findings have implications for further research.
Creating Shared Value hinges on the interdependence between a company’s success and social welfare, and also the identification and expansion of connections between that company and society. Because critics say the concept is counterproductive, in that it focuses too narrowly on the company’s economic value creation, we take a materiality analysis approach of corporate social responsibility (CSR). This approach provides evidence of what is important to stakeholders and promotes meaningful corporate disclosure, central to the Global Reporting Initiative. This study reports on a materiality analysis of the cruise industry, comparing stakeholder concerns/demands with both the relevant literature and existing CSR reports to determine to what extent the current industry definition of its social responsibility matches the expectations of its stakeholders, and subsequently, to theorise reasons for the patterns found. Results evidence that cruise companies tend to both over-report immaterial issues and under-report material issues, without responding to stakeholders’ requests.
Creating shared value (CSV) involves connecting company success with social progress. This shared element of CSV resonates with the mandate of destination management organisations to be accountable to all stakeholders for the progress of the destination. This study tests the feasibility of a destination’s stakeholders adopting a CSV approach and by doing so, to take responsibility for that destination’s future. Semi-structured interviews gathered opinions from 16 members of the General Council, the Executive Committee, and the Steering Committee of the highly acclaimed Turisme de Barcelona (TdB), the official organisation for the promotion of tourism in Barcelona, Spain. The results show that the complexities of changing the organisation’s mandate, in a public-private partnership where consensus is needed, would be extremely difficult to navigate. Even if possible, the outcomes would likely step on the toes of other institutions. The feasibility of integrating CSV into the mandate, in order to move destination marketing organisations towards destination management organisations is problematised as a 'wicked' problem using Foucault's notion of power in stakeholder relationships. The results show the inherent difficulties of introducing sustainability values into a multi-stakeholder, public-private partnership, and allow lessons to be drawn about how realistic CSV may be as a guiding philosophy.
The use of ecolabels and certification schemes in the tourist industry is reviewed. Over 70 schemes are described, from the developed countries of the Northern Hemisphere and Australia. Ways for widening the applicability and hence validity of these ecolables are suggested in conclusion. The book is divided into an introductory section (Chapters 1-2) and four parts. Part 1 discusses the contexts of tourism ecolabels (Chapters 3-6). Part 2 presents the practical approach of ecolabels development (Chapters 7-12). Part 3 reviews the recent changes in ecolabels and their current developments (Chapters 13-15). A strategic analysis of tourism ecolabels is presented in Chapter 16. Part 4 presents a directory of current ecolabels. Ecolabels are viewed as marketing tools that promote good environmental performance. The book is indexed.
To mainstream sustainability, we need to understand the value gained from sustainability by users. We apply a user-centred design methodology to develop an agile, iterative, incremental and reflexive process to understand the sustainability value proposition for Lufthansa City Center travel agents. We analyse the failure of sustainability communications within the online platforms used by these agents and explore why the agents factor out sustainability information during the customer sales process. We identify how agents and customers understand sustainability, and we explore opportunities to co-create sustainability value. Furthermore, we prototype, and then test, methods of empowering travel agents to communicate sustainability to their customers as a value-adding proposition.
The pressures of tourism on rural destinations have meant that environmental considerations have become paramount. Practical solutions to delicate problems are being sought. This volume, the result of the EU-funded TOURFOR Project, brings together current thinking and synthesizes it for students and practitioners alike. With case studies of rural destinations - especially woodland and forest - from the UK, Portugal and England, the book is linked to the EU's good management award scheme.
This paper outlines the consultation of recreation managers and stakeholders in forests in the United Kingdom, Portugal and Finland regarding their use of Environmental Management Systems (EMS) to plan, manage and monitor visitor impacts, The results show that there is a critical mass of sites already using the components of an EMS or capable of doing so, with some potential to fully implement an EMS. This informs the development of criteria of an EU funded feasibility study for an ecolabel for forest recreation and tourism sites.
The Materiality Balanced Scorecard is an integrated framework that links sustainable hospitality performance management and reporting, as an instrument to define, communicate and operationalise strategic sustainability objectives. We integrate the Balanced Scorecard as a well-established performance management system with the inclusiveness, materiality and responsiveness principles of the AA1000 Stakeholder Engagement Standard, to aid an organisation to respond to its stakeholder expectations. The framework provides a systemic, structured and integrated approach, and an opportunity for sustainable value creation. We test the framework with data reported by 20 of the world’s largest hotel groups, to find that current sustainability reports lack hierarchical cause-and-effect chains and hard evidence of impact at the system level. We argue that hospitality organisations can improve their management controls by addressing the quality, transparency and consistency of their sustainability response, thereby responding to sustainable development challenges without undermining their organisational viability.
The need for sound, progressive policy is important but the robust evidence upon which to base realistic policy, and the institutional capacity and political appetite to deliver it, are often lacking. The paper reviews the link between evidence and policy and highlights recent methodological advances in value chain analysis which allow researchers to efficiently collect relatively robust policy-relevant evidence in data-poor contexts. It summarises the evidence generated from a World Bank study of tourism in Ethiopia that questioned important tenets of tourism policy and strategy, to assess the extent to which this evidence has been taken up into policy and to account for the apparent failure of evidence up-take. We conclude that the failure of evidence-based policy may have had as much to do with weaknesses in the research process as with the indigenous policy-making process.
The demand for ecotourism and outdoor recreation is increasing, and the pressures on land use are becoming more obvious. A large part of the experience of ecotourism and recreational landscape depends on the maintenance of forested land. Effective management of tourism and recreation in forests can provide extra income to help offset the costs of sustainable timber production and encourage biodiversity conservation. This multi-author book considers the compatibility between tourism, forestry and conservation, the management of natural resources and the involvement of stakeholders and the community. Issues are presented through case studies from a range of countries and topics covered include National Parks, peri-urban forestry and wilderness management, as well as practitioner-oriented contributions
Sustainable Tourism as a Competitive Tool in Chile. This paper reviews the Chilean tourism planning taking place to develop and promote sustainability among tourism entrepreneurs in order to develop, position and promote itself as a sustainable tourism destination. This article frames this policy of market-based instruments in ecological modernisation theory, and then outlines in detail the information evaluated, the institutions involved, the processes and organs established and the development path taken. The article suggests some lessons learned from this process for other destinations in the form of critical factors that enable this process and give greater assurance to ensure that policies, plans and programs are successful and endure over time.
The proliferation of schemes to certify sustainable tourism and ecotourism across the world has not succeeded in changing purchasing patterns and consumer behavior due to the global nature of the tourism industry, both in terms of supply and demand. Following the footsteps of industries such as forestry, organic farming and fishing, tourism is now the next target for a global accreditation body to regulate claims of sustainability. This article discusses the challenges of setting global sustainability standards in a diverse industry such as tourism, and the process followed by a team of consultants to encourage a wide representation of views and realities in developing an international accreditation body for sustainable tourism and ecotourism certifiers, the Sustainable Tourism Stewardship Council.
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to test whether volunteer tourism organisations are prepared to learn from feedback on the quality of their responsibility communications, and consider whether analysis and communication of results can influence market improvement. Design/methodology/approach – A purposive sample of five influential website pages of eight volunteer tourism organisations are scored across 19 responsible voluntourism criteria, and compared against the results of two years previously. Findings – The authors report mixed results on how communicating results has encouraged change and industry improvement in responsibility, based on previous research that showed responsibility to be communicated inconsistently at best, potentially greenwashing at worst, across organisations, product types and responsible values. Research limitations/implications – The paper applies sustainability marketing literature to explain the changes in responsibility communication performance using an innovative tool to benchmark and audit responsibility in online marketing content and providing insight into how best practice marketing necessitates responsible operations. This paper considers whether and how, when presented with evidence, organisations choose to improve for a more responsible voluntourism offer. Originality/value – The paper is original in providing a practical, industry-informed analysis of the reasons why volunteer operators communicate in the way they do, and the ability to influence their communications to be more reliable, in the context of increased criticism for shallow volunteering. This experiment allows industry associations and lobby groups to influence industry practice based on the evidence that improved communications are possible when specific, tailored advice is provided.
Purpose - This paper aims to analyse the influence of environmental proactivity on cost and differentiation competitive advantages, and to explore the double relationship between environmental proactivity and business performance. Design/methodology/approach - The population consists of all three- to five-star hotels in Spain. A sample of 350 hotels was classified according to environmental proactivity and performance levels, employing a two-step cluster analysis. Significant differences between groups were examined. Findings - The results show two types of environmental behaviour (reactive and proactive), with proactive hotels developing significantly better on both cost and differentiation competitive advantage and achieving significantly higher performance levels. Hotels which achieve above average business performance levels are significantly more environmentally proactive. Research limitations/implications - The present paper demonstrates that environmental management is related to competitive advantages and business performance. Environmental management systems are more developed in higher category, chain-affiliated and larger hotels. This could be due to having more resources to develop their environmental capability. The environmental proactivity scale employed in this study is presented as a reference measure for hotel managers to benchmark their current practices and implement environmental improvements. Originality/value - First, measuring environmental proactivity using four managerial systems (operative, information, strategic and technical) is innovative and provides a more detailed approach to measuring environmental proactivity. Second, demonstrating a double association between environmental proactivity and performance provides fresh insights into the relationship between these variables.
Abstract This section of the journal encourages discussion between several authors on a policy-related topic. The same question may, therefore, be addressed from different theoretical, cultural or spatial perspectives. Dialogues may be applied or highly abstract. This Dialogue starts with this contribution and is followed by three comments by Jim Butcher http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19407963.2016.1258512; Fernando Correia http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19407963.2016.1258511; Mary G. McDonald http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19407963.2016.1258513. Introduction Academics are expected to engage with industry and policy-makers to conduct research that has impact. For those of us researching sustainable tourism, this means creating a positive benefit on the triple bottom line of the environment, society and the economy, and therefore the mandate of creating an impact could be seen as a legitimisation of our inner calling. But these same academics are faced with the conflict of engaging in a policy-making process that is not fit for purpose, and that appropriates and narrowly defines the sustainability discourse, stifling a deeper and more meaningful debate of whether the purpose of sustainable tourism is to make the tourism industry more sustainable, or to use tourism as a tool for sustainable development (Sharpley, 2000 Sharpley, R. (2000). Tourism and sustainable development: Exploring the theoretical divide. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 8(1), 1–19. doi: 10.1080/09669580008667346 [Taylor & Francis Online] ). This dialogue starts with an opinion piece on the challenges to achieve meaningful impact when the system pays lip service to the ill-defined concept of sustainability, that most individuals do not want to implement because changing one’s behaviour is complex, and as such the policy instruments developed are half-hearted. Consumers tend to misunderstand the causes and consequences of unsustainable behaviour, and their cognitive dissonance between what they do and want to believe in results in downplaying the importance of the impacts caused. Sustainability is subservient to trade and consumption, and many sustainability policies are implemented to be able to justify continued over-development, which may explain why the sustainability solutions implemented do not compensate for the increased consumption. This allows consumers to enjoy without guilt experiences marketed as sustainable, while the market-based instruments introduced to inform consumer choice have limited effect. The dialogue calls for tourism academics to conduct research that is purposefully informing behaviour change, in full knowledge of the limitations of the system we work within.
The context and nature of PAN Parks Tourism is one of the largest sectors in Europe, and has the potential to become a key element of the preservation of rural European landscapes and social structures, through the regeneration of economically depleted areas with the economic input of tourism. Although coastal and city tourism are still the highest in terms of visitors numbers, it is rural and mountain tourism that is growing fast in the European context, and this is mostly around protected areas. The IUCN (1994; in Blangy & Vautier, 2001) lists four reasons why the nineties have offered increased opportunities for protected areas, all of which apply to Europe: • Human populations are relatively stable and affluent; • There are declining pressures on land in many areas because of agricultural surpluses and reduced military activity; • There is a high level of public support for conservation, and • There is a climate of international cooperation Therefore the threat on protected areas in Europe has diminished in some aspects such as resource extraction and agriculture, some of the greatest threats in other regions (WWF, 2000), yet increased in aspects such as land use pressures due to limited land availability. Tourism and recreation are one of the greatest contributors to land use pressure in Europe’s national parks (FNNPE, 1993), yet despite being a threat, it is also one of the key levers for the preservation of Europe’s remaining wilderness areas (Font & Tribe, 2000).
This article reviews the procedural complexity of tourism policy-making by the European Commission leading up to the 2010 Communication. Initially, the European Commission had to present interventions affecting tourism as a community action or measure; intended to assist in the implementation of the Internal Market. Later, integration of the sustainable development principle into European Treaties established a framework for governance and a foundation for tourism policy, and the Lisbon Treaty in 2007 established a European policy that explicitly related to tourism, albeit a complementary competence in character. This article highlights a lack of leadership from the Member States throughout the process and contrasts this with the self-serving, driving force of the Commission in making tourism policy that focuses primarily on promotional actions. Consequently, the Commission has not created a robust, dynamic, flexible European model for tourism, designed in a way to best serve the needs of the Member States.
Awards and labels can help consumers choose more environmentally benign tourism products and encourage more attention to the environment by producers. As in other areas, however, there is an increasing clutter of environmental awards and labels in tourism. Concerns exist about the value and appropriateness of some claims associated with these. This paper reviews and assesses environmental awards in tourism and recreation using comparative analysis. Sixteen awards relating to manufacturing, forestry, tourist attractions and tourism companies are appraised under the classifications of focus, criteria, certification system and results. Having identified the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches it is concluded that the time is ripe to rationalise awards and labels in the tourism industry and that an environmental management systems approach provides a flexible template to fulfil such a need and drive the agenda of environmental improvements in the industry.
Management of environmental impacts is a key requisite to achieve sustainable tourism and recreation; and Environmental Management Systems (EMSs) provide the framework to assess, plan, act upon, control and monitor environmental management and performance. Although a large proportion of tourism and recreation sites would be in a position to work towards an EMS, few of them are aware of what they need to do to implement such systems. This case study analyses to what extent the elements of an EMS are present in the current management of a Forest Enterprise site in the UK providing outdoor recreation, promoting nature conservation and producing timber. This paper demonstrates how an EMS can be applied to put a structure to the management of a multi-purpose site, and concludes that this site, representative of other Forest Enterprise sites, can meet the basic demands of an EMS.
Within the travel and tourism industry in Europe today there are some 5000 recipients of green certification logos, including a wide range of accommodations as well as tour operators, destinations, golf courses, parks, beaches, and marinas. As discussed in chapter 7, since the 1980s, scores of eco-sensitive certification programs in Europe were developed in a piecemeal fashion by a variety of government agencies, NGOs, and industry association to cover parts of the mass, sustainable, and ecotourism markets. Both the loose use of terminology and Europe’s large number of small, sometimes overlapping, certification systems create customer and industry confusion.2 Most of the green certification schemes described in the previous chapter measure the environmental impacts or management of a tourism structure or business such as a lodge or tour operator. This chapter aims to demonstrate that certification programs that measure the quality of natural areas may be more likely to succeed than certification schemes of tourism facilities because they assess aspects of the environment that are more important to both long term sustainability and to the traveling public. This will be illustrated by examining two nature-based certification programs in Europe, the well-established Blue Flag for beaches and the World Wide Fund for Nature’s PAN Parks program that is in its inception stages.
Attempts to promoting sustainable tourism and ecotourism as quality products suffer from the lack of methods to ensure these are not just a green wash. The current proliferation of awards, labels and endorsements has confused consumers to the extent of preferring to ignore these green messages. Several initiatives have emerged to address the proliferation of small, little known, limited value ecolabels in tourism and hospitality, and to ensure that the larger ones meet internationally accepted criteria. This paper will review progress made by a wide range of public, private and non-profit agencies in developing environmental standards and method to measure them, which will be set against the internationally agreed process for compliance assessment. From the above experiences, the author will outline the prospects to environmental certification in tourism and hospitality, which are the development of an international accreditation system, following agreed standards, and linked to national, regional or sector-specific certification programmes. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Sustainability policies and corporate reports demonstrate the impacts cruise companies acknowledge as their responsibility, and the actions put in place to address them. This paper develops a corporate social responsibility index based on the Global Reporting Initiative, with industry specific additions including labor and human rights, health and safety, and environmental and economic aspects. Companies disclose more management than performance data, which is typical of early stages of development. Companies disclosing less information focus on soft indicators which are easy to mimic and demonstrate posturing. Items disclosed tend to be marginal to the core of the business, have a positive economic impact or pre-empt sector regulation. Reports echo the voice of the corporations and not the demands of stakeholders. Institutional isomorphism has not influenced a homogenization in reporting, with only the largest firms reporting at this stage.
The impact of mainstream tourist hotels on destination economies is clearly an important question for public policy-makers wishing to develop robust tourism policy. We adapt the methodology of value chain analysis to measure the local economic impact of a large, single tourism enterprise, to show how to generate commercially realistic data using the example of an analysis of a 1000 room all-inclusive resort in southern Turkey in partnership with TUI UK and Ireland. The data break down package revenues according to their beneficiaries and identifies areas for improvement. We further report and reflect on a 6-month evaluation of a tour operator-hotel partnership to deliver on a set of positive recommendations arising from the date to improve future impact.
Volunteer tourism has been heavily criticised for its negative consequences on destinations and volunteers, often the direct result of unrealistic demand-led marketing and lack of consideration for the environmental and social costs of host communities. While some industry participants have responded through adherence to best practice, little information or support is available about how to responsibly market volunteer tourism. This research uses an online content analysis based on the International Voluntourism Guidelines for Commercial Operators to understand the use of responsibility as a market signalling tool. Five influential web pages of eight organisations are scored across 19 responsibility criteria and compared against the organisation’s legal status, product type and price. We find that responsibility is not used for market signalling; preference is given to communicating what is easy, and not what is important. The status of the organisation is no guarantee of responsible practice, and price and responsibility communications display an inverse relationship. We conclude volunteer tourism operators are overpositioning and communicating responsibility inconsistently, which highlights greenwashing, requiring at least industry-wide codes of practice, and at best, regulation. This paper reflects on its methodological limitations, and on its practical achievements in encouraging change within some of the organisations examined.
Previous research explains the various factors that motivate or discourage the owner-managers of small firms to behave sustainably. However, it has failed to develop a meaningful understanding of how these factors inter-relate or combine to influence their decisions. This research identifies and explains how socio-cultural and industrial norms influence the intentions and behaviours towards sustainability of owner-managers of small tourism firms. This grounded theory study shows how selective peer association allows the use of norms that match one's values to predict the difficulties, benefits and therefore justification for pro-sustainability (in)action. Locally-held socio-cultural norms determine what is commonly (dis)approved of through reflective and comparative processes. Connectedness to the locality triggers empathy for nature and the local society, but not a corresponding sense of responsibility. This dissonance is managed by allocating responsibility to industry actors perceived as more powerful, particularly tour operators and consumers, and to the widespread greed and short term culture dominating the sector.
This article studies the determinants of altruistic behaviour in a collectivistic country. A focus group discussion identified the determinants and their causal relationships. Partial least square and covariance-based structural equation modelling provide similar results in 605 questionnaires, which support the model’s fit. The tourists are likely to perform more altruistic behaviours if they are exposed to persuasive communication that enhances self-efficacy beliefs, more than communication tapping into one’s sustainability attitudes. The study shows the potential of focusing on altruistic messages in a collectivistic country (Bangladesh) in comparison to the individualistic messages typically shown to be more persuasive in Western countries. Keywords: Altruistic tourist behaviour, persuasive communication, attitude, self-efficacy belief, structural equation modelling, collectivism.
Social-Cognitive Theory is used to test the argument that the motivations behind sustainable tourism, and the types of sustainable actions undertaken, depend on one’s empathy towards sustainability. Latin American businesses were surveyed about their motivations for acting sustainably and any sustainability actions undertaken. Based on their responses, TwoStep cluster analysis found four clusters (cost, legitimisation, biospheric, and lifestyle). Acceptance of responsibility to be more sustainable depends on one’s level of empathy with, and attachment to, sustainability, explained by a beneficiary focus (personal norms that drive one to act to help oneself or others) and a cultural focus (acting in response to individualistic or collectivistic social norms). Lifestyle businesses are argued to be culturally individualistic but self-transcendent in benefit focus.
This article analyses the use of mixed methods in papers published in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism over the 10 years, 2005–2014. First, a content analysis of the articles shows that mixed methods are used primarily for expansion and development of results, and less often for triangulation or complementarity. Sequential designs are slightly more popular than simultaneous designs, with qualitative research preceding the quantitative element. In the majority of cases, both the quantitative and qualitative methods have equivalent importance, yet where one is dominant, this is usually the quantitative part. Second, we contextualise the content analysis by exemplifying the use of mixed methods in selected papers, using commentary from authors who have recently published mixed methods papers. We reflect on the reasons for, strengths and weaknesses of using mixed methods, and we argue that mixed methods provide sustainable tourism academics with more opportunities for pragmatic transformative research for societal change, and increasing research reliability in relation to social desirability bias, stakeholder comparisons and transdisciplinarity. The paper notes the need for greater understanding of mixed methods by researchers, its special value and growing importance in sustainable tourism research, and its challenges and strengths for authors and editors.
We advocate the adoption of more expansive and creative methodological approaches the study of tourism. More specifically, we argue that by examining how individuals narrate their experiences and social practices, researchers can gain an insight into the meanings actors attach to their actions. Considered from this perspective, narratives become performative; they prompt actors to take actions that (they feel) actualise the story they are seeking to tell. To illustrate its value, we use linguistic narrative analysis to explore how the owner-managers of small values-based tourism firms narrate the operation of their business. A dataset of first person accounts made of both narratives in storified form featuring a chronological order with beginning, middle, and end, and narratives without a storified form largely recounting opinions, feelings, and points of view, are interpreted to offer new perspectives on the behaviours of small firms in tourism. We argue that narrative approaches should complement methods used routinely by tourism scholars to examine this constituency of actors (and others).
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate the influence of customers’ environmental concerns, customers’ perceptions of a hotel’s environmental practices and of the hotels’ environmentally friendly images, on their willingness to pay a price premium to stay at environmentally friendly hotels. Design/methodology/approach The theoretical framework comprises both the Social Identity Theory and the Value-Belief-Norm Theory. The data was collected from a survey conducted to 454 customers staying at eco-friendly hotels in Spain. The research model is tested by using a structural equation modelling approach. Findings The findings illustrate that customers’ environmental concerns have a greater explanatory value on their willingness to pay a price premium than do their perceptions of the hotel’s environmental practices. Furthermore, these causal relationships are similar in magnitude when considering the mediating effects of the hotel’s environmentally eco-friendly image and the environmental practices. Practical Implications The empirical findings provide managers with a better understanding of how customers’ environmental concerns, and their senses of identification with environmentally friendly hotels, influence their behavioural intentions towards willingness to pay a premium. The findings help hoteliers to understand how to market their products in such a way that their environmentally friendly practices are not perceived as being achieved at the expense of any other set of benefits; few customers will appreciate a trade-off in benefits, particularly to oneself. Originality/Value The paper contributes to the literature by highlighting those cognitive processes that influence the customers’ willingness to pay a price premium to stay at environmentally friendly hotels. Hence, the study provides valuable information to hotel managers.
A survey of around 900 tourism enterprises in 57 European protected areas shows that small firms are more involved in taking responsibility for being sustainable than previously expected, including eco-savings related operational practices but also reporting a wide range of social and economic responsibility actions. Two-step cluster analysis was used to group the firms in three groups based on their motivations to be sustainable. Business driven firms implement primarily eco-savings activities and are commercially oriented. Legitimization driven firms respond to perceived stakeholder pressure and report a broad spectrum of activities. Lifestyle and value driven firms report the greatest number of environmental, social and economic activities. No profile has a higher business performance than average. The study has implications for policy programmes promoting sustainability behaviour change based primarily on a business case argument.
Greenhushing selectively communicates fewer pro-sustainability actions by businesses than are practiced; based on a perception of customers’ rights to consumerism. We first studied the gap between the communication of sustainability practices in the audits and websites of 31 small rural tourism businesses in the Peak District National Park (UK). The analysis showed that businesses only communicate 30% of all the sustainability actions practiced. Their websites emphasised customer benefits, using explicit, affective, experiential and active language that legitimises the customers’ hedonistic use of the landscape, while downplaying complex issues and normalising sustainability to reduce customer guilt. Just one website mentioned climate change. We found that greenhushing results from a low moral intensity, masking potentially negative consequences of perceived lower competence, whilst protecting business from more cynical consumers who may interpret their statements as hypocritical. Subsequent textual analysis and interviews were used to understand how communication constitutes these organisations. We propose that greenhushing reshapes and constitutes tourism businesses through their communications. Moreover, greenhushing is a form of public moralisation that adopts communication practices similar to greenwashing, reflecting the social norms expected from a business; however, in this case, located in a moral muteness, rather than moral hypocrisy, that businesses accept but resent.
Standards are documents that establish a basis, example, or principle for firms to conform to, linked to uniform units of measurement. Compulsory standards are enforced through national legislation and industry membership requirements and tend to cover health and safety, competence standards, occupational safety, land-use planning, licensing of businesses, and consumer protection. Voluntary standards go beyond these to suggest best practice and are usually coupled with training manuals for companies to make the necessary improvements to meet the requirements. Although certification of quality in hotels has a long tradition, it has focussed on environmental concerns only fairly recently, and is now starting to consider sociocultural issues. Most programmes have developed as bottom-up initiatives with little knowledge of each other and generally operate as specific responses to manage the key negative impacts or challenges of a particular subsector in a particular location. In the last 10 years, they have moved on dramatically to become one of the buzzwords of sustainable tourism and ecotourism, considered as a potential mechanism to combat greenwashing but not without a fair share of skeptics (Morris, 1997). This chapter will discuss the development of sustainability standards from local efforts to make business improvements to becoming part of the suite of governance and regulatory tools of the global tourism industry. The key propositions of this discussion are that standard setting and certification are valuable tools to bring stakeholders together in their sustainability efforts, and they can be part of a suite of tools to encourage improvement. At the same time it is necessary to proceed with caution and not take certification as the answer to greening the industry. This chapter outlines current developments in the sector to create a basis to critically understand and analyse key issues in the application of sustainability standards. This leads to the discussion of efforts to globalise standards, and the challenges encountered. Finally the chapter considers the range of stakeholders that can have an impact on developing standards, and hypothesises how the tourism industry could change through sustainability standard enforcement, considering both its feasibility and desirability.
This chapter reflects on the challenges of promoting corporate environmental and social responsibility among tour operators, through the efforts made by the Our Operators' Initiative for Sustainable Tourism Development (TOI), a network of tour operators who seek to improve their environmental performance and to incorporate sustainable development principles in their business operations. The chapter focuses on the range of indicators decided upon by the TOI, presented under 5 areas of management: product management and development, internal management, supply chain management, customer relations, and cooperation with destinations.
We use the concept of absorptive capacity to better understand the relationship between sustainability information acquisition, proactivity and performance. A quantitative analysis of a survey of 408 tourism enterprises in Catalonia (Spain) shows that: i) growth-oriented motivations are related to communication with industry-related sources, and to individual and informal channels, while lifestyle motivations are related to communication with other stakeholders; ii) sustainability implementation is related to communication with other stakeholders, to the use of collective and formal channels, and to the perceived usefulness of information; and iii) sustainability performance is related to the introduction of environmental and economic practices, to the use of both industry and broader sources of information, and to the perceived usefulness of information. We suggest that sustainability training and education may be more successful in achieving behaviour change when they are adapted to the absorptive capacity and learning styles of their target audiences.
Sustainability communication in accommodation businesses tends to be factual and descriptive, as companies are concerned with product-based messages that focus on what they do; they appear not to understand the potential benefits of constructing messages that would influence consumers to behave more sustainably, which is effectively sustainability marketing myopia. An analysis of 1,835 sustainability messages from award-winning businesses shows that messages communicate facts not emotions, and benefits for society as a whole rather than for the individual customer. The messages are explicit, but passive and not experiential hence they positively affect the cognitive but not the affective image of the business. The lack of message normalization and customer focus reinforces the image of sustainability being a niche concern. We reflect on the reasons for these shortcomings and highlight opportunities to improve persuasive communication, which we have now applied commercially in more than 400 website analyses and 60 training courses.
We aimed to evaluate the impact of sustainable tourism indicators on destination competitiveness with reference to the European Tourism Indicator System (ETIS), a scheme funded by the European Commission to address the evidence gap in tourism policy making. To do this, we evaluate the absorptive capacity of destination management organisations (DMOs) to implement and use sustainable tourism indicators to make policy decisions. We provide evidence of how DMOs have acquired knowledge about the importance of sustainable tourism indicators through ETIS, and how they have assimilated it by developing their own systems based on the principles of ETIS. However, we find that the European Commission had unrealistic expectations that DMOs, or their policies, would be transformed as a result of the use of indicators, or that indicators would be exploited to improve tourism sustainability and competitiveness. We contribute to the study of policy science by showing how absorptive capacity can be used to analyse and evaluate policy interventions, despite being a linear rational approach to explaining a complex policy context.
Purpose: This article examines the choices made by the hotel industry about what to include, and who to be accountable to, in their sustainability reports; a process defined as materiality assessment. Design/methodology/approach: The article is based on the findings of semi-structured interviews with: 1) eight sustainability managers (from eight of the world’s 50 largest hotel groups) to explore their understanding of, and use of, materiality and any barriers to its uptake; and 2) eight industry sustainability experts to assess the general industrywide application of materiality. Findings: Sustainability managers from large hotel groups are evasive when disclosing their materiality criteria, their decision-making processes and how they aggregate stakeholder feedback; they limit their disclosure to the reporting process. Sustainability managers are disempowered, with limited resources, time, knowledge and skills to apply to materiality assessment. Experts confirm that hotel groups are unsystematic and opaque about their decision-making and how they control their materiality assessments. Practical implications: Materiality assessment is concealed from the public and may be constructed around business imperatives with high managerial capture. The hospitality industry needs to improve its sustainability reporting, by examining how it defines and applies materiality and by addressing the barriers identified, if it is to demonstrate an enduring commitment to sustainability and organisational legitimacy. Originality/value: This article addresses the limited knowledge of how hotel groups undertake materiality assessments. It identifies gaps in the conception and application of materiality by pinpointing barriers to its uptake and recommending areas in need of further research.
This research aims to identify, and critically understand, the key opportunities for and barriers against tour operators and their ground handlers sourcing and selling more sustainable tourism products. The study is framed in literature of organisational culture and buyer-seller collaborations both downstream (sustainable supply chain management) and upstream (business to business marketing). Semi-structured interviews help to identify the tour operators’ barriers, opportunities and key decision making criteria. The findings suggest that a supportive organisational culture is a prerequisite to success for companies that wish to scale up the volume of sustainable products they source and sell. Sustainability only sells when it contributes to an organisation’s ability to meet its requirement of quality of service, especially in relation to suitability of the products to its target markets and reinforcing professional and trustworthy relationships. For services that are keenly priced, and/or that have tight health and safety regulations, buyers and sellers often lack the motivation to consider sustainability requirements unless they are clearly valued and marketed. Business to business marketing requires suppliers to understand the relative importance of sustainability to each of their buyers and, in response, to develop appropriate arguments to explain the importance of sustainability within their buyers’ organisational needs.
Tourism marketing has typically been seen as exploitative and fuelling hedonistic consumerism. Sustainability marketing can, however, use marketing skills and techniques to good purpose, by understanding market needs, designing more sustainable products, and identifying more persuasive methods of communication to bring behavioural change. This article summarises the latest research on the theories, methods and results of marketing that seeks to make tourist destinations better places to live in, and better places to visit. It explores sustainability marketing’s two fundamental approaches, that of market development, using market segmentation, and that of sustainable product development. It introduces a Special Issue of the Journal of Sustainable Tourism on sustainable marketing, sharing evidence on the motivations, mechanisms and barriers that businesses encounter, and on successes in changing consumer behaviour and pursuing sustainability goals. Particular attention is given to the methodologies of sustainable tourism marketing, to the subject’s breadth and complexity, and to its many innovations. Further research is called for to fully understand what contextual aspects influence these pro-sustainability interventions to achieve which outcomes in other settings, in order to validate some of the exploratory studies discussed, and establish the feasibility of scaling up pilot studies for more general use.
Small firms in tourism are characterised by informal approaches to management, allowing their owners to meet a variety of often overlapping business and personal goals. Environmental certification schemes generally require members to subscribe to formal environmental management systems (EMS), even when aimed at small business operators. This paper examines in detail the managerial approaches of a small group of owner-managers who are operating within the approximately 3000-member Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS) available in the UK and Ireland. The findings suggest that the type of environmental practices adopted most willingly reflect the formality of management within the business and the owner-managers’ various backgrounds, values, reasons to be in business, expectations from acting and their understanding of the "environment". It finds that the "Plan-Do-Check-Review" approach of most EMS does not easily relate to the complex motivations and needs of the world of small business. The paper concludes that environmental engagement is more likely to be fostered if owner-managers’ managerial approaches and assumptions are better understood and that shared visions for environmental engagement are encouraged through informed dialogue. Both economic benefits and the fostering of "feel good" factors should be stressed if small tourism businesses are to adopt EMS programmes.
What motivates firms to adopt environmental management practices is one of the most significant aspects in the contemporary academic debate in which the review of the existing literature yields, with an obvious contextual bias toward developed world, contested theories and inconclusive findings. Providing a unique model that brings together the individual and organizational levels of analysis on firms’ adoption of environmental management practices, this study aims to provide a new insight from the context of developing world. Data from 158 Red Sea hotels reveal two identifiable dimensions of environmental management—planning and organization, and operations—that can be explained as originating from different values. Whereas organizational altruism is a powerful predictor of both dimensions, managers’ personal values and organizational competitive orientation are only relevant to environmental operations. The evidence also indicates that contextual variables such as chain affiliation, hotel star rating, and size are important to explain hotels’ environmental management behaviors.
Ethical decisions to visit disappearing destinations are self-serving and influences feed into self-interest. Data were collected from a sample of pre-, during- and post-visit tourists to Venice and Svalbard, using expressive techniques and scenarios using the Hunt–Vitell model to understand ethical decisions, and the constructive technique and collage to understand influences. The results show that travel decisions are driven by individual selfishness, and any threat to freedom (i.e. the right to travel) is underplayed. The preferred scenario for long-term benefit for planet and people is via short-term economic and social negative impacts on the destination’s locals, rather than the tourists’ own experience. Respondents believe that they are blameless for their purchasing habits as they lack perceived behavioural control, and instead corporations ought to be providing sustainable products as the norm and not sell products that harm. In the scenarios, where respondents express concern for the locals in a disappearing destination (i.e. if we do not visit, they will not benefit from our expenditure), individual selfishness to visit could be the driver, rather than an altruistic act to provide support. Theoretical and policy implications are discussed.
Efforts to design and communicate sustainable tourism products have been based on the premise of explicit market demand for sustainability. This study tests whether it is possible to design mainstream sustainable tourism products that circumvent customer scrutiny of their sustainability features, by making sustainability implicit (as part of quality product design) and communicating hedonistic benefits instead. This is akin to using the peripheral route of communication, as explained in the Elaboration Likelihood Model, as the central route emphasises the consumer-driven message of overall quality of experience; the approach lessens the need for customers to be conscious of the sustainability consequences of their actions. The methodology proposed to achieve this is User-Centred Design (UCD), which places insights into customer needs, values and demands at the heart of new product design. We designed sustainable tourist activities using UCD and then appraised customer demand for them. Although this may seem counterintuitive, the results show that it can be more effective than traditional methods in mainstreaming sustainable activities, through choice-editing of unsustainable ones and normalising the appearance and communication of sustainability, provided a focus on sustainability is maintained by the product provider.
While extensive research covers the disclosure of performance in sustainability reports, there is limited understanding of the process of how such reports are developed and whose priorities they reflect. We investigate the sustainability reporting, focusing on stakeholder-related practices disclosed by the 50 largest hotel groups worldwide, by testing the AA1000 Stakeholder Engagement Standard. We use the three interrelated dimensions (inclusiveness, materiality and responsiveness) to assess the disclosure of how organisations (1) identify and engage with stakeholders, (2) determine the importance of sustainability issues, and (3) respond to stakeholder concerns. We find the low transparency and imprecision of decision-making criteria and processes suggest sustainability reporting is more of a legitimisation exercise than one of accountability. We find the stakeholder identification approach does not inform the organisation's transparency, whereas the dialogue mechanisms used to empower stakeholders, as their participatory role in decision-making and the reporting process, shape the disclosure of materiality and responsiveness. We demonstrate how that the ability to determine stakeholder engagement, materiality analysis and responsiveness of the sustainability reporting process can improve the role of sustainability reports as a mechanism for accountability, and we argue the importance of the alignment between the degree of disclosure on inclusiveness, materiality and responsiveness
Corporate social responsibility practices have been mostly analyzed in the large manufacturing business context, with little attention paid to the service sector and even less to small and medium-sized accommodation enterprises. This study aims to fill this gap through analyzing how these enterprises take responsibility. A survey of nearly 400 enterprises showed that the main reason for acting responsibly is altruistic, although competitiveness reasons are also important. Aspects of the “resource-based view” of the firm are validated through the positive impact of environmental cost-savings in financial performance, but also because other practices (not always related with economic reasons) are influencing their competitiveness. The article concludes that further implementation of these practices is necessary to achieve the full potential of competitive advantages.
While there is a growing literature related with corporate social responsibility (CSR) in hospitality and tourism large firms, much remains to be done in the case of CSR in tourism small and medium enterprises (SMEs). In this paper we provide three studies regarding this particular aspect through the evidence present in different destinations: Catalonia, European natural parks and Chile. Among the conclusions that can be highlighted is the prevalence of altruism in the reasons for being responsible, the introduction of increasingly advanced measures or their impact on different business variables, and the link to financial performance.
This paper examines the reasons for different levels of environmental engagement among small firms in tourism. Drawing on theories of motivation, notably Social Cognitive Theory, Motivation Systems Theory and Goal Orientation Theory, as well as the literature on environmental sensitivity, it proposes a novel conceptual framework that is subsequently used to inform an empirical study. The findings of the research suggest that varying levels of environmental engagement may be explained by differences in worldviews, self-efficacy beliefs, context beliefs and goal orientation. The paper concludes by considering the policy implications of the results.
This study explores destination stakeholders’ perceptions of volunteer tourism (VT) using equity theory. In this paper, 26 semi-structured interviews were conducted to understand individuals’ needs, motivations, expectations and their assessments of inputs and outcomes. Equity theory sheds light on the micro-level of interaction between residents and volunteers and demonstrates why and how residents of Cusco (Peru) with an active role in VT develop certain perceptions in direct encounters with volunteer tourists. The data reveal how perceptions differ according to the respondents’ social roles within VT. Heterogeneity, dynamism and a fluctuation between materialities and affection are discussed as important outcomes of these interactions.
The past decade has seen significant growth in the tourism and hospitality literature on corporate social responsibility (CSR). Indeed, over 70% of the articles on this topic have been published in the past five years. Through the application of a stakeholder lens, this paper explores how CSR has developed within the extant literature, paying particular attention to current gaps and highlighting the contributions of the research in this special issue. This emerging research on CSR in the context of tourism and hospitality is pushing past the boundaries of early approaches to corporate sustainability by providing empirical evidence to support the importance of integrating a range of stakeholder perspectives and needs throughout the planning, implementation, and evaluation of CSR initiatives. We observe that while there is ample research on certain stakeholder groups such as management, employees, shareholders, and consumers, there is less emphasis on the role of communities and ecosystems as stakeholders and very little related to suppliers, NGOs, and government. Although tourism and hospitality firms may not be subject to the same pressures as other industries, there remain important opportunities to both document and engage these external stakeholders in the journey towards sustainability.
Most travel trade associations ignore their responsibility towards sustainable development broadly and animal welfare in particular. We analyse the development and implementation of animal welfare standards across 62 national and international associations using interviews, surveys, content analysis of published materials and websites. Only 21 associations mention sustainability in their websites, and only 6 refer to animal welfare. Of these, three associations have well-developed animal welfare activities (ABTA, ANVR and GSTC) and only one (lightly) monitors its members’ sustainability and animal welfare standards (ANVR). ABTA’s Animal Welfare Guidelines are the de facto industry standard, despite being designed for information (not auditing) purposes and lacking enforcement mechanisms. We examine jolts that prompt some associations to respond to external pressures and the institutional entrepreneurship process that triggers a process of reflexivity, theorisation and diffusion of a broader sense of responsibility. We examine the field-level conditions that lead to mostly mimetic pressures on large European tour operators (that compel them to act due to reputational risk management), with minimal normative pressures that would diffuse animal welfare practices across other association members. Change is not divergent, and the resources allocated to animal welfare protect trade associations’ members from criticism without binding them to implementation.
Messages with a clear focus on personal benefits and social and personal norms could impact holidaymakers' preferences towards opting for sustainability actions. This argument was explored using a three stage, sequential, mixed methods study. Firstly, analysis of current sustainability messages from three responsible tour operators revealed a low likelihood of them influencingcustomer preferences towards sustainability actions. An online survey of consumer beliefs and values proved that a manipulated message was more persuasive than the real messages used by the tour operators. This informed an experiment in message design that showed preferences for: i) obtaining individual gains from acting pro-sustainability (the importance of self-benefit), ii) doing what others are doing (the appeal of conforming to the descriptive norm), and iii) doing what others think one should do (the appeal of conforming to the injunctive norm). The findings have led the ANVR to relaunch their sustainability programme, focusing on customer benefits.
Este trabalho é resultado de avaliação de uma iniciativa do Turismo de Base Local (CBT) no Peru, pela companhia de turismo GAP Adventures e sua fundação, a Planeterra. O objetivo foi determinar se isso está incrementando melhorias na vida dos participantes e da comunidade, utilizando-se da análise do impacto, do método de implementação e viabilidade comercial do projeto. Num nível mais profundo de análise procurou- se compreender os fatores críticos de sucesso para esta iniciativa, quais sejam: as ligações com o setor privado; a proximidade com o mercado de turismo; a criação de produtos atraentes e competitivos; a lucratividade; a vontade da comunidade para se engajar-se no turismo, e; a implementação de um processo de monitoramento e avaliação. Considerou-se que a análise de projetos neste nível mais profundo ajudará tomar decisões mais informadas sobre os projetos de CBT podem ser viáveis, se a comunidade estiver apoiada por doadores, com chances de sobrevivência financeira.
Tourists' perceptions of climate change affect decisions and choices to visit destinations, which are disappearing because of climate change impacts. Values and motivations are two of the personal variables underpinning tourists' decisions. The study addresses both the limited values research in tourism and reveals unconscious motives by using projective techniques. Projective techniques avoid some of the social desirability bias present in much ethical research. Choice ordering technique and the list of values assist by assigning importance, with narrative responses providing meaning. The construction technique builds a story from a stimulus, with photo-elicitation using participants' personal holiday photographs. A sample of pre, during and post visit tourists to the Arctic and Venice were interviewed. Results, which provide a more nuanced understanding of how the personal variables of values and motivations are underpinned by self-interest, inform policies and the messages designed to influence pro-sustainability behaviour.
Eco-innovation is essential if we are to improve the environmental impacts of tourism firms. Building on the natural-resource-based view (NRBV) of the firm, we hypothesize that eco-innovation is the mediating factor between four firm-level antecedents (opportunity-recognizing and opportunity-capitalizing capabilities, top managers’ attitudes and stakeholder pressures) and three outcomes (cost and differentiation, with respect to a firm’s competitive advantage, and its resulting organizational performance). Partial least squares structural equation modelling is applied to the data from a survey with hotel managers in China, and confirms all of the hypotheses, except two, namely: i) that cost competitive advantage is positively related to hotel performance, and ii) that eco-innovation fully mediates the relationships between opportunity-recognizing capability and both dimensions of competitive advantage. Our contribution to the NRBV theory with a novel, integrated model to predict the mediating role that eco-innovation plays between firm-level resources and capabilities, and competitive advantages.
Purpose – This paper demonstrates how the tour operating industry must take responsibility of the sustainability of its suppliers as part of the quality expected by tourists, in order to remain competitive. Design/methodology/approach – Case studies resulting from telephone surveys, interviews and document searches. The theoretical approach is that of using sustainable supply chain management both as a method of corporate social responsibility and a strategy for industry survival. Findings – Price wars have forced mass tourism operators to small margins, while ignoring the growing special interest market. Sustainability is now part of quality expectations and the industry as a whole has to reinvent itself to meet changing demands, while also embedding corporate social responsibility in a way that makes business sense. Research limitations/implications – The challenge is transferring experience to less sophisticated and mature markets, where at present there is little evidence of demand for sustainable products. Practical implications – Industry wide standards are necessary as the lever for change in those industries where short return on investment eco‐savings will not be possible, and where the future of a whole industry relies on joint action. Originality/value – The paper makes a contribution to the limited knowledge of sustainable supply chain management in the service sector. Most research emphasizes environmental issues in manufacturing.
This paper develops a methodology for the early detection of reactivation of tourist markets to help mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 crisis, using Skyscanner data on air passenger searches (>5,000 million) and picks (>600 million), for flights between November 2018 and December 2020, through ForwardKeys. For future travel during the May to September 2020 period, the desire to travel (based on the number of flight searches) has dropped by about 30% in Europe and the Americas, and by about 50% in Asia, while intention to travel (the number of flight picks, the final selections amongst flight searches) has dropped a further 10-20%. Most source markets remain optimistic about air travel during the last quarter of 2020, suggesting a U shape recovery. However, optimism has dwindled as time passes, suggesting a flatline L shape. A traffic light dashboard for domestic and inbound air travel demand to Spain shows how destination managers might use Big Data relating to the early recovery of key source markets to develop targeted marketing strategies. We show how Big Data provides timely granular data essential in highly volatile situations, and we argue that destination management organisations must improve their Big Data analytical and evidence-based, decision-making skills.
Drawing on Taylor and Todd’s “decomposed theory of planned behavior,” this study explores the sustainability beliefs, attitudes, social norms, perceived behavioral controls, and behavioral intentions of accommodation managers and considers how these relate to their uptake of water-related innovations. An online survey is used to capture data from more than 300 accommodation establishments located in Catalonia (Spain). Using a structural equation model to interpret the data, 17 hypotheses are established, of which 15 are found to be significant. The findings show how the second-order constructs informed by organizational innovation literature explain the attitudes, social norms, and perceived behavioral controls of the managers; these factors inform 56% of the sustainability behavioral intentions. We explore the cognitive mechanisms that motivate managers to introduce sustainability practices in their businesses. We contribute to theory by demonstrating the benefits of studying the belief structures that inform taking sustainability actions from the perspective of innovation
In this editorial, we reflect on how the Journal of Sustainable Tourism can contribute towards sustainable tourism researchers achieving more impact with their research. We propose some changes that can be tested in, and introduced gradually and collaboratively with, the community of the editorial board and authors. To support impactful mind sets, we will promote research that reflects diverse academic communities. To promote impactful research topics, we will encourage authors to frame their submitted articles against the Sustainable Development Goals, while research that is time sensitive will be fast tracked so it can contribute to current debates. To promote impactful methodologies, we shall favour articles that use mixed methods and action research, and those that conduct longitudinal, experimental, and evaluative research. To promote impactful partnerships, we will favour multidisciplinary approaches and research that has been co-created with stakeholders. To promote impactful communication and dissemination, we will continue to build an online community on social media for sustainable tourism researchers, we will promote articles in social media to raise their visibility, and we will provide free access to those articles that are deemed to have the greatest potential to impact positively on society.
We study the formation of pro-environmental behaviors (PEBs) by integrating both the promoting (moral obligation) and inhibiting (moral disengagement) PEB mechanisms. Results of a sample of 285 tourists at a National Nature Reserve in China affirm that moral obligation positively affects PEB intention, while moral disengagement has significant negative impact. There is little difference in the relative importance of moral obligation and moral disengagement in affecting PEB intention. Social influence plays an important role in regulating the impacts of moral variables on PEB intentions. This study also broadens knowledge of the structure of PEB, by unveiling low-effort PEB intention as a precursor to high-effort PEB intention, and a mediator between moral obligation / moral disengagement and high-effort PEB intention. This study provides insights and implications for tourism practitioners and policy makers, and opens up future research exploration of the paradox of the promoting and inhibiting PEB mechanisms.