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This study investigates why people who actively engage in environmental protection at home engage in vacation behaviour which has negative environmental consequences, albeit unintentionally. The environmental activists participating in the study were highly aware of the negative environmental consequences of tourism in general, but all displayed an attitude–behaviour gap which made them feel uncomfortable. Participants did not report changing their behaviour; instead, they offered a wide range of explanations justifying their tourist activities. Gaining insight into these explanations contributes to our understanding of why it is so difficult to motivate people to minimize the negative environmental impacts of their vacations, and represents a promising starting point for new interventions to reduce environmentally unsustainable tourism behaviours.
Cite as:
Juvan, E. & Dolnicar, S. (2014) The Attitude-Behaviour Gap in Sustainable
Tourism. Annals of Tourism Research, 48:76-95.
Abstract: This study investigates why people who actively engage in
environmental protection at home engage, albeit unintentionally, in vacation
behaviour which has negative environmental consequences. The environmental
activists participating in the study were highly aware of the negative
environmental consequences of tourism in general, but all displayed an attitude–
behaviour gap which made them feel uncomfortable. Participants did not report
changing their behaviour; instead, they offered a wide range of explanations
justifying their tourist activities. Gaining insight into these explanations
contributes to our understanding of why it is so difficult to motivate people to
minimize the negative environmental impacts of their vacations, and represents a
promising starting point for new interventions to reduce environmentally
unsustainable tourism behaviours.
Keywords: environmentally sustainable tourism, cognitive dissonance theory,
qualitative research
Tourists generally have positive attitudes towards the environment, and do not wish to
behave in ways that negatively impact the environment (Dolnicar, 2004; Wurzinger &
Johanson, 2006). Social psychological theories explaining why humans behave in certain
ways, such as the theory of planned behaviour (Ajzen 1985), postulate that attitudes – among
other factors – affect behaviour. Yet, in the context of environmentally sustainable behaviour,
having a positive attitude does not emerge as a good predictor of making environmentally
sustainable vacation choices. A distinct attitude–behaviour gap exists in environmentally
sustainable tourism (Becken, 2004; Bergin-Seers & Mair, 2009).
As part of investigating different research questions in a range of study contexts, several
studies have identified possible reasons for this gap, including: claiming that there are no
alternatives to current behaviours; that other issues are of greater importance (Becken, 2007;
Lorenzoni, Nicholson-Cole and Withmarsh, 2007; Buckley, 2011); using escape and
relaxation as an excuse for disregarding environmental considerations (Wearing, Cynn,
Ponting & McDonald, 2002); not having the information required to choose vacation options
that come at a low environmental cost (Juvan & Dolnicar, 2013); buying offsets or using
credits of smaller footprints from everyday life, or behaving in an environmentally friendly
way at home (Becken, 2007; Buckley, 2011); being too busy to change one’s behaviour
(Lorenzoni et al., 2007); blaming others (Lorenzoni et al., 2007; Miller, Rathouse, Scarles,
Holmes & Tribe 2010); having faith in technological solutions (Lorenzoni, et al., 2007;
Gössling, Haglund, Kallgren, Revahl & Hultman 2009); denying responsibility (Gössling et
al., 2009); displacing responsibility (Lorenzoni et al., 2007; Miller et al., 2010); emphasizing
the job creation benefits of carbon emitting industries (Becken, 2007); and arguing that there
is negligible impact from personal behaviour (Lorenzoni et al., 2007; Gössling et al., 2009).
None of these studies, however, identifies a comprehensive list of reasons for the attitude–
behaviour gap in environmentally sustainable tourism, or develops a systematics of reasons.
This is the aim of the present study.
Specifically, the present study aims to produce a better understanding of the attitude–
behaviour gap in the context of environmentally sustainable tourism. The investigation
focuses on environmental activists because they are known to have pro-environmental
attitudes (Stern, Dietz, Abel, Guagnano & Kalof, 1999) and have a demonstrated willingness
to engage in behaviours that help the environment. We may expect, therefore, that
environmental activists will demonstrate the smallest attitude–behaviour gap, if any at all.
This paper investigates the following research questions:
(1) Are environmental activists aware of the negative environmental consequences of their
vacation behaviour?
(2) Is there an attitude–behaviour gap among environmental activists in the tourism
(3) If so, how do environmental activists feel about this attitude–behaviour gap? And do
they attempt to reduce the gap?
The study primarily contributes to the understanding of environmentally unsustainable
vacation behaviour. The insights gained may form the basis of developing targeted
interventions in the future which aim at reducing vacation behaviours that come at high
environmental cost.
Several theories and concepts have been used in the past to explain behaviours that cause
harm to the environment and therefore need to be considered as possible bases for the present
study, which focuses on the attitude–behaviour gap in the context of environmentally
sustainable tourism.
Theory of planned behaviour
The theory of planned behaviour (Ajzen 1985), an extension of the theory of reasoned action
(Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975), postulates that attitudes, social norms and perceived behavioural
control affect people’s intentions to behave in certain ways which, in turn, lead to actual
behaviour. The theory of planned behaviour has frequently been used as a basis for
investigating environmentally sustainable behaviour in general (Kalafatis, Pollard, East &
Tsogas 1999; Shaw, Shiu & Clarke 2000; Bamberg, Ajzen & Schmidt 2003; Anable, Lane &
Kelay 2006; Fielding, McDonald & Louis 2008; Chen & Tung, 2010) and environmentally
sustainable tourism behaviour in particular (Han, Hsu & Sheu 2010; Han & Kim, 2010; Ong
& Musa, 2011), showing great promise in explaining behavioural intentions. Critics of the
theory of planned behaviour argue, however, that behavioural intentions do not translate into
behaviour, and several empirical studies have demonstrated that this link is indeed relatively
weak (for example, Bickmann, 1972; Bergin-Seers & Mair, 2009; McKercher & Tse, 2012;
McDonald, Oates, Alevizou, Young & Hwang, 2012).
Specific criticism has also emerged from studies investigating environmentally sustainable
behaviours. For example, Prillwitz and Barr (2011) found that “green attitudes (towards the
environment and sustainability in general) do not influence tourist travel significantly” (p.
1595). Bickmann (1972) shows experimentally that 94% of respondents believe that “picking
up litter is everyone’s responsibility”, but only 1.4% actually picked up litter when exposed to
it, and concludes that “environmental problems will not be solved by simply influencing
verbally expressed attitudes” (p. 324). Anable et al. (2006) conclude that the theory of
planned behaviour is “too simplistic for a study of travel behaviour and climate change” (p.
61) because it has typically been used to describe behaviours with two simple behavioural
The theory of planned behaviour has contributed significantly to understanding drivers of
human behaviour. It is valuable to the present research in that it points to social norms and
perceived behavioural control as possible reasons for attitudes not translating into behaviour.
Attribution theory
Attribution theory (Heider, 1958) postulates that people have two fundamentally different
ways of explaining the causes of their own behaviour as well as events affecting them. When
using internal or personal attribution, people see themselves as the cause. When using
external situational attribution, people see reasons not related to them as the cause.
Attribution theory lends itself as a basis for studies of environmentally sustainable tourism
because people can either attribute the cause of climate change and other direct or indirect
negative environmental consequences of tourism to themselves or to others. Attributing these
issues to others means not having the power to change anything, and thus implies that one
cannot be held accountable for any negative environmental impacts.
Attribution theory has been explicitly used in tourism research to understand to whom
tourists attribute vacation experiences (Jackson, White & Schmierer, 1992), and to investigate
how hotel guests’ willingness to pay for the environmentally sustainable credentials of hotels
is affected by their attribution of why hotels communicate those credentials (Kang, Steinb,
Yoojoung & Lee, 2012). It has hitherto not been used to understand environmentally
unsustainable vacation behaviour.
In terms of the potential to form a theoretical basis for investigating the attitude–behaviour
gap, attribution theory has its merits, because it offers one possible explanation for such a
gap: the fact that people simply do not see themselves to be the cause of the problem, and
therefore do not see behavioural change on their part to be part of the solution.
The value-belief-norm theory of environmentalism
Stern’s (2000) value-belief-norm theory of environmentalism postulates relationships
between a person’s values and beliefs about the environment, one’s responsibility for
environmental conditions and personal norms relating to the environment, which, in turn,
cause pro-environmental behaviours.
Beliefs are understood to be formed and modified throughout a person’s life (Rokeach,
1968), and thus represent a potential target for interventions that aim to induce behavioural
change. The value-belief-norm theory of environmentalism postulates that two specific
beliefs affect pro-environmental behaviours via norms: 1) the awareness of consequences of
behaviour on the things people value; and 2) the ascription of responsibility, indicating that
people believe they are responsible for protecting that which they value so highly.
Interventions aimed at those two beliefs have been successful in increasing the level of pro-
environmental behaviour (Van Liere & Dunlap, 1978; Hopper & Nielsen, 1991; Stern et al.,
The value-belief-norm theory has not been used to date as the basis for the study of
environmentally sustainable tourism, despite the fact that both of the key constructs of the
theory – awareness of consequences and ascription of responsibility – have been individually
studied in the context of the environmental burden of tourism activity (Becken, 2004; 2007;
Gössling et al., 2009; Miller et al., 2010; McKercher & Prideaux, 2011), concluding
overwhelmingly that people ascribed little responsibility to themselves in terms of their
contribution to climate change due to tourism activity.
We may conclude that value-belief-norm theory is valuable because it points to two
specific reasons that may explain the attitude–behaviour gap under study: the fact that people
may think that taking a vacation does not have a negative impact on the environment, and the
fact that they may not feel responsible for the problem, and thus similarly not responsible for
contributing to the solution.
Cognitive dissonance theory
Cognitive dissonance theory (Festinger, 1957) postulates that people experience
psychological discomfort when there is an inconsistency between “cognitions (attitudes,
beliefs, values, opinions, knowledge) about themselves, about their behaviour and about their
surroundings” (p. 9). Cognitive dissonance can manifest in many ways. Festinger (1957)
describes it as frustration or disequilibrium, Davidson and Keisler (1964) suggest the feeling
of dissonance makes people equivocal, confused, unclear or oblique, and, according to
Sweeney, Hausknecht and Soutar (2000), people can react by feeling anxious, uncertain or
For cognitive dissonance to occur, a person must have the desire to achieve a certain
outcome and must value that outcome. Festinger (1957) suggests that it is necessary to
distinguish different degrees or magnitudes of dissonance. Similarly, Soutar and Sweeney
(2003) state that “cognitive dissonance is not a specific condition but it rather exists from
lesser to greater extent, at various stages in decision-making” (p. 231). The greater the
dissonance, the greater the intensity of the action to reduce the dissonance, and the greater the
avoidance of situations that increase dissonance.
People respond to cognitive dissonance by adjusting either beliefs or behaviours, such that
“states of dissonance are transformed into states of consonance and the inconsistencies are
eliminated” (Kassarjian & Cohen, 1965, p. 56). This can be achieved either by changing
behaviour to align with beliefs or by changing beliefs to align with behaviour. More recently
Stone and Fernandez (2008) found evidence that people will reduce the tension by changing
behaviours if they are given the opportunity to publicly advocate and commit themselves to
correct behaviours and are privately reminded of their own failures to perform the target
behaviour in the recent past; if reminders are public, people are more likely to change beliefs
to cope with the tension.
Cognitive dissonance has been used in the general context of environmentally sustainable
behaviour. For example, Thorgesen (2004) concludes that “the interaction between moral
norms and similarity perceptions in determining the level of behavioural consistency strongly
supports the proposition that the desire to avoid cognitive dissonance is driving this process”
(p. 101).
In the context of environmentally sustainable tourism behaviour, no study has yet used
cognitive dissonance as the basis of its investigation, but a few researchers report observing
cognitive dissonance or hypothesize that cognitive dissonance may be occurring; for
example, Hares, Dickinson and Wilkes (2010) found that people do not modify their vacation
behaviour in view of climate change, and hypothesise that “it is possible they may have
aligned their attitudes towards holidays and climate change to be consistent with their
behaviour” (p. 472). Similarly, Miller et al. (2010) found that people who are concerned
about the environment but still travel experience emotional dissonance and report feeling bad.
Miller et al. (2010) note that tourists may be avoiding or reducing dissonance by rejecting
information about the negative environmental impact of their tourism-related activities.
Cognitive dissonance theory focuses specifically on explaining the attitude–behaviour gap,
which stands at the centre of the present study, making it the most suitable theory to form the
basis of the investigation. Additional support for the choice of cognitive dissonance theory is
provided by several studies, which demonstrate that cognitive dissonance can be used to
change environmentally sustainable behaviours: Dickerson, Thibodeau, Aronson and Miller
(1992) show that participants who were reminded of their past wasteful water use and made a
commitment to reduce water use took significantly shorter showers than subjects who were
merely reminded of past wasteful behaviour or only made the public commitment. The
authors conclude that “the findings have implications for using cognitive dissonance as
means of changing behavior in applied settings, especially those in which people already
support the desired goal, but their behavior is not consistent with those beliefs” (p. 841).
Similarly, Kantola, Syme and Campbell (1984) reduced household energy consumption by
informing respondents about the discrepancy between their stated attitudes towards energy
use and their high energy use. Aitken, McMahon, Wearing and Finlayson (1994) found “that
statistically significant reductions in residential water consumption can be achieved by the
application of simple cognitive dissonance and feedback information, at least in the short
term. Households receiving both dissonance and feedback treatments exhibited the greatest
reductions” (p. 154), suggesting that the “added effect of placing the subject in a dissonant
situation is more effective in encouraging a reduction in water consumption” (p. 154). Stone
et al. (1994) provide evidence that people who were made aware of the gap between what
they say about safer sex and how they practice it are over two times more likely to follow
through on their high intentions for safer sex and acquire condoms. Fointiat (2004) reported
that inducing cognitive dissonance leads to changes in driving behaviour. Results of the
experiment about asking people to volunteer to become safer drivers show that significantly
more participants in the dissonance induction condition volunteered to have their driving
monitored than in the control group.
As Miller (2003) points out in the context of reviewing a past survey based research on
sustainable consumerism in tourism, “a weakness of much of this research is the distinction
between what survey respondents say and what they actually ask for or do” (p. 19). In order
to avoid this problem as much as possible, a qualitative research approach that included both
prompted and unprompted questions was chosen. Throughout the interview, primarily open-
ended questions were used to ensure the unbiased identification of a wide range of beliefs
that were potentially instrumental in the re-establishing cognitive consonance. Woodside and
Lysonski (1989) argue that such unaided awareness response measures are associated
strongly with behaviour. Open-ended questions also have the advantage that the interviewer
is in control of the question sequence, allowing the slow revelation of the precise topic of
investigation to the participants (Wagner, 2003).
Interviews were conducted with members of environmental organisations, because it was
expected that their attitude–behaviour gap relating to environmentally sustainable vacation
behaviour would be minimal (Karp, 1996; Randle & Dolnicar, 2006). Selecting participants
based on actual behaviour, rather than their responses to a set of items on values or attitudes,
is critical in order to avoid social desirability bias (Fisher, 1993), which would lead to people
being incorrectly classified as highly pro-environmental.
--- Table 1 here ---
Participants were recruited through organisations with a mission to protect the
environment. Typical activities of members of those organisations include hands-on
environmental work, such as planting trees and collecting litter, and activist tasks, such as
organising and participating in pro-environment rallies, door knocking to collect signatures
on petitions relating to environmental issues, fundraising, providing information about
environmental issues on the Internet and recruiting additional members.
Data were collected in Australia and Slovenia because the researchers were physically
located there. Participants were heterogeneous with respect to gender, age (ranging from 23
to 65), education level, occupation, country of origin, number of vacations undertaken per
year and years of involvement in environmental activism. A detailed profile of all participants
is provided in Table 1. To ensure that participants were members of the environmental
organisations because they wanted to contribute to protection and conservation of the
environment, they were asked why they chose to be actively involved in this organisation at
the beginning of the interview. The responses to these questions – which are also provided in
Table 1 – confirm that they hold pro-environmental cognitions.
Neither the representatives of the organisations who were initially contacted, nor the
participants themselves were informed about the precise purpose of the study, to avoid
biasing responses. Instead, they were told that the study investigated how people plan their
vacations and how they behave when on vacation.
The sample size was not set in advance; rather, the approach of seeking for the point of
data saturation (Glaser and Strauss, 1967) was used. The point of data saturation is reached
when additional interviews do not lead to additional insights. The data saturation approach is
widely used in qualitative tourism research (for example, Guest, 2006; Nimrod, 2008;
Lumsdon & McGrath, 2011; and papers identified in the Appendix). For the present study,
this point was reached at 25 interviews. To double check that 25 respondents aligned with
design choices of other qualitative researchers in tourism, a review of purely qualitative
studies published in 2012 and 2013 in the Annals of Tourism Research was conducted.
Sample sizes for each study are provided in Table 2 in the Appendix. The average sample size
of those studies is 28, with a minimum of five and a maximum of 65 respondents.
Interview locations were chosen by participants (for example, bar, park, office). Interviews
lasted between 45 and 100 minutes. A semi-structured interview guide was used: respondents
were first asked to talk about what was important to them when they went on vacation and
which criteria they used when choosing a destination, accommodation, activities and tourism
providers more generally. To make the questions less abstract, similar questions were asked
about a specific recent vacation. A subset of respondents was asked directly whether they
sometimes felt the tension between enjoying a vacation and knowing that it had negative
environmental consequences, how it made them feel and how they dealt with this tension.
The reason for asking only a subset of respondents direct questions is that they may have
influenced the answers given by the study participants. It was important, therefore, to conduct
interviews that did not aim directly at the constructs under study, to determine whether
respondents not directly prompted would also report mechanisms re-establishing cognitive
consonance. It is clearly indicated in the results section which comments were made by
respondents who were directly asked about cognitive dissonance and which comments were
made by respondents who were not prompted.
With the permission of participants, interviews were audio recorded and transcribed
verbatim within a few hours of the interview. A contact summary report (Miles & Huberman,
1994) was written after each interview. The purpose of writing the contact summary reports
was to record the specifics of the interview critical to data interpretation, such as nonverbal
expressions, prolonged thinking, changing of ideas and interview flow. Summary reports and
transcripts formed the basis of data analysis.
Data analysis was conducted in two stages: first, all statements reflecting explanations of
the attitude–behaviour gap were identified and ordered into themes. Nineteen categories of
explanations emerged. Next, similarities and dissimilarities between these explanations were
used to group them into six higher-order categories (Corbin & Strauss, 2008). None of the
possible explanations offered by theories was included by default; rather, explanations were
categorized based on their content only. This is in line with Glaser and Strauss’s (1967, p. 37)
recommendation that it is essential to first “ignore the literature of theory and fact on the area
under study, in order to assure that the emergence of categories will not be contaminated by
concepts more suited to different areas. Similarities and convergences with the literature can
be established after the analytic core of categories has emerged”. Only after completion of the
data analysis process were resulting groups of beliefs compared with theoretically postulated
reasons for attitude–behaviour gaps. Both levels of categories cover all empirical
observations and allow independent assessment and agreement with proposed categorisation,
which lends support to the credibility of the findings (Charmaz, 2006). To validate the
findings, an additional ten interviews were conducted. Written transcripts of 82 explanations
provided by these ten respondents were given to two raters. Raters independently categorized
them into one of the six main and 19 sub-categories. The inter-rater agreement index (Kappa)
was 0.881 (p <.0.000) at the level of 19 for sub-categories and 0.859 for the six main
categories (p <.0.000). According to Landis and Koch (1977) Kappa values of between 0.81
and 1 indicate “almost perfect” agreement.
Awareness of negative environmental consequences of vacation behaviour
Results indicate that, overall, the study participants were acutely aware of the negative
consequences of climate change and environmental pollution, and felt very strongly about
preventative action being required, as illustrated by the quotes below:
Horrifying, absolutely horrifying. If we don’t make a difference to our polluting
behaviours rapidly, immediately and globally, it is likely that human civilization will
not survive in its current form (prompted, female, 43 years old).
Study participants also demonstrated a general awareness of how tourism-related
behaviour contributes to environmental pollution and climate change, especially awareness
about the negative environmental impact caused by carbon emissions from transportation in
general and aviation in particular:
Well, people fly too much. The impact of the airline industry has a tremendous impact
on climate change and, of course, the more tourists are travelling, the more planes
are in the sky (unprompted, male 51 years old).
However, the negative consequences of tourism-related behaviours not directly related to
transportation were also acknowledged by study participants, including the negative
environmental impact of waste caused by tourism and damage done to pristine natural areas:
Waste pollution is particularly problematic in third world countries… tourists
contribute… by going there (unprompted, female, 33 years old).
In South America you can do tours of the tropical rainforest. When they constantly
bring people through a certain path… the beauty of that path starts to decay and… it
becomes trashed (unprompted, female, 23 years old).
Interestingly, however, even among the group of participants in this study who were
specifically selected as engaging in environmental action, there was some doubt and
confusion about the precise negative effects that different tourism activities have on the
We think that huge hotel development is less eco-friendly, but at the same time… it’s
concentrating a large number of… tourists… in one small area… so what is less or
more eco-friendly… is a bit ambiguous (unprompted, female, 27 years old).
I guess there is a whole thing with carbon emissions for the flight, but… people kind
of offset flights now, so hmmm I’m not too sure about that (unprompted, female, 27
years old).
Overall, based on the statements made by study participants, we may conclude that the
environmental activists were aware of the environmental consequences of tourism. There
may be some lack of clarity about the precise environmental impact of certain activities
related to tourism, but overall, the participants were acutely aware of the potentially negative
impacts of tourism on the environment.
The attitude–behaviour gap
Differences between study participants existed with respect to whether or not they openly
admitted the attitude–behaviour gap or not. The following two quotes are representative of
those study participants who were aware of the fact that their behaviour was not aligned with
their pro-environmental attitudes:
I know this is not consistent with what I said before, but there is only that much I can
do (male, 26 years old, unprompted).
I am aware that this is not how I actually feel and think about these things, but it was
because of the kids – they love it (female, prompted, 36 years old).
It is evident from all interviews, however, that an attitude–behaviour gap existed in the
context of vacation behaviour and its potential environmental impact. This finding is
surprising, given that the sample was selected to consist of people who – in their everyday
life – engaged in organised environmental protection or conservation action and who
expressed pro-environmental cognitions in the interviews (see Table 1). Of all people, it
would be such environmental activists who would be expected to have the smallest attitude–
behaviour gap.
Cognitive dissonance, attempts at re-establishing consonance and beliefs used to do so
Only one respondent stated that they did not feel any tension about the attitude–behaviour
gap. Many respondents – either unsolicited or in response to the question about perceiving a
tension – reported experiencing what is likely to be cognitive dissonance. For example:
Something that uses a lot of resources and is wasteful makes me uncomfortable
(prompted, female, 26 years old).
It makes me feel upset and guilty and sometimes I don’t enjoy things as much because
of knowing that (prompted, female, 43 years old).
…disturbed me greatly. I didn’t feel good about it (unprompted, female, 53 years old).
Participants offered a wide range of explanations for the attitude–behaviour gap. In total,
six groups of beliefs emerged, which are summarized in Figure 1 and described in detail
below. As can be seen, some align directly with predictions made by the theory of planned
behaviour, attribution theory and the value-belief-norm theory of environmentalism.
--- Figure 1 here ---
GROUP OF BELIEFS #1: It’s not that bad (denial of consequences)
Beliefs in this group relate to awareness of consequences, one of the two key constructs
postulated by the value-belief-norm theory of environmentalism to be a precursor to pro-
environmental behaviour. These beliefs centre on the denial of the negative consequences on
something valued, in this case, the environment. This denial can take a number of different
forms, including denial of one’s own actions or the denial of being part of the kinds of
tourists who harm the environment. This subset of beliefs is therefore labelled who, me? and
is illustrated in the following two statements:
I’m just not that kind of a tourist; it’s not what I do. I simply explore natural places,
walk around the city, try local foods and experience local things (unprompted, male,
26 years old).
We did not even do the mainstream stuff, like dirt bike riding… we try to do stuff that
is not damaging… we don’t do stuff like that (unprompted, female, 34 years old).
In many ways this represents a selective awareness of consequences characterised by the
denial of negative consequences to the environment from those activities study participants
engage in. Interestingly, these participants were not lacking in awareness of the negative
environmental impacts of tourism in general, but they appeared to change their position when
it came to their own behaviour. Given that they did not lack awareness, knowledge or
understanding, this is indicative of belief adjustment for the purpose of re-establishing
A second belief that falls into this group is that of uncertainty about the negative
consequences due to the questionable reliability of information provided to the general
public, as illustrated in the following quotes, and labelled not sure it’s that bad:
We never receive proper information on climate change, so I don’t know what is true
or untrue (unprompted, female, 27 years old).
Related to the uncertainly aspect is another belief which can be labelled green wash
scepticism. It goes one step further from believing that there is insufficient evidence or
information about the negative impacts of certain vacation-related activities, in that people
actively question the motives of the providers of information related to the protection of the
environment provided to them by the tourism industry through sales and advertising.
Environmentally certified tourism providers are not necessarily green; and not-
certified are not necessarily harmful (prompted, female, 33 years old).
I fundamentally dispute offsetting, because it’s a marketing gimmick (unprompted,
male, 26 years old).
The final belief identified in the group of it’s not that bad beliefs was it can all be fixed,
as illustrated in the following statements:
Earth has a recuperative power and, with the help of technology, it can recuperate
quickly (prompted, female, 52 years old).
This statement exemplifies a specific belief that denies the consequences of environmental
damage at a high level, by assuming that any environmental damage can be fixed, so even if
some damage is caused, this is only a temporary problem. As a consequence of the belief in
the fact that environmental damage caused by tourism can be fixed, it follows that it is not
such a big problem to behave in ways that have negative environmental consequences.
GROUP OF BELIEFS #2: It could be worse (downward comparison)
This second group of beliefs has in common with the first the mechanism of comparative
judgment, specifically, downward comparison, as discussed by Festinger (1954) in the
context of social comparison theory, a theory not originally considered as playing a role in
environmentally sustainable tourism behaviour. Festinger postulates that, in an attempt to
accurately define themselves, people compare themselves to others. Downward comparison is
a specific mechanism that involves seeking out people who are in a worse situation, or, as in
the case of pro-environmental behaviour, cause more damage to the environment, in order to
feel better about themselves and their behaviour.
The responses provided in our study that relate to this mechanism indicate that a person’s
own behaviour, or tourism activity in general, is contrasted to other people’s behaviour or the
impact of other industries, in order to come to the conclusion that tourism is actually not that
bad. The first subset of those beliefs results from an intra-individual comparison with other
behaviours one could be engaging in that would be worse, and is therefore labelled I could
behave even more badly:
I would travel all the time. I love travelling, but I don’t travel that much because I
believe that this would have a negative impact on the environment. And I mean that
from the bottom of my heart. This is not a lie which would make me sound better!
(prompted, female, 33 years old).
The fact that one could behave in a certain way, but does not, gives comfort in one’s
behaviour and helps to re-establish cognitive consonance. Similarly, the downward
comparison with other people, either other tourists or locals, can be used to give this same
kind of comfort (others behave worse):
I try to remind myself that we have done a lot more than an average Australian
(prompted, female, 26 years old).
Locals… also use motorbikes – poor exhaustion systems – and that also causes
tremendous impacts (unprompted, female, 35 years old).
Finally, the comparison can also occur at the industry, rather than the individual level,
leading to the beliefs that other industries are worse and, as a consequence, supporting the
tourism industry is comparatively harmless:
By traveling I harm, but so is the massive industrialisation and the mining business...
their impact is greater than that of tourism (unprompted, female, 48 years old).
Tourism is just a puzzle in a big problem, so either we solve the whole puzzle or we
won’t do anything (prompted, female, 28 years old).
GROUP OF BELIEFS #3: It is not my responsibility (denial of responsibility)
This group of beliefs is tied closely to the construct of ascription of responsibility in the
value-belief-norm theory of environmentalism, but encompasses both aspects of genuine
externalisation of responsibility and aspects of deriving the idea of not being responsible
from the feeling that one’s behaviour cannot actually make a difference, and this state of
powerlessness relieves one from any kind of responsibility. This also follows predictions
from attribution theory when causes for events are externally attributed.
Yes, I do think how much fuel will this jet use to get me somewhere, but then again,
this aircraft will take off with or without me anyway (unprompted, female, 53 years
A lot of suffering... in our life comes from the desire to change something we can’t, so
it is just better to let go of that desire (prompted, female, 26 years old).
GROUP OF BELIEFS #4: I would like to, BUT… (denial of control)
This group of beliefs is different in nature compared to previously discussed beliefs,
because the assumption underlying these beliefs is that one’s personal tourism activity clearly
does have negative environmental consequences. To re-establish consonance in this situation
requires a different mechanism; in this case, the identification of justifications why, overall, it
is unavoidable to engage in these behaviours. The first subset of beliefs is labelled I have no
option. It assists with reconciliation by arguing that the behaviour is not under one’s control
for a wide range of possible reasons, for example:
Sometimes I have to go, I have to fly, because it’s my business, it’s my job and people
expect me to be there (prompted, female, 33 years old).
The fact that we live in Australia makes things difficult, I mean, if you want to travel
anywhere you need to fly (unprompted, female, 27 years old).
Another way of justifying one’s inability to avoid potentially environmentally harmful
behaviour is to argue that truly environmentally friendly tourism is very expensive, and I am
not rich enough. All study participants mentioned budget constraints, for example:
Unfortunately, due to the financial crisis, the budget is becoming more and more of
an important constraint, therefore I “allow myself” a lot more than I did years ago
(prompted, female, 33 years old).
The following quotes illustrate the same pattern of justifying behaviour:
It’s hard… being a budget tourist to actually make mindful decisions (unprompted,
female, 27 years old).
The price bracket is only suitable for those with a lot of money. I would say it’s really
quite elitist! (unprompted, female, 53 years old).
Another belief serving to justify vacation behaviour that is potentially harmful to the
environment is that people do not have enough time to do all the research that would be
required in order to determine which vacation option has the smallest environmental
footprint: I do not have enough time.
I had no time to search for a more environmentally friendly option… (unprompted,
male, 51 years old).
If… you want to take the train, that will take more time, and you have to have more
time (unprompted, female, 33 years old).
Not having enough information or required infrastructure also falls into the group of
beliefs relating to denial of control:
I would say in most places it’s difficult, because if, for example, water is not filtered
so you need to buy bottled water or you want to recycle or compost, but there are no
options, or dry clothes but there is only an air dryer (prompted, female, 36 years old).
Hotels don’t have recycling facilities (prompted, female, 29 years old).
The reasons why there are no options can be different, ranging from not being in control of
the actual travel decision to missing required infrastructure or information about which
vacation choices come at the lowest environmental cost. Required infrastructure not being
available is a barrier that in many instances actually exists (Juvan & Dolnicar, 2013) and
therefore represents both a real barrier (that needs to be removed) and a possible excuse (that
needs to be counter-argued with communication messages).
Beliefs in this group represent the construct of perceived behavioural control, as postulated
by the theory of planned behaviour.
GROUP OF BELIEFS #5: Vacations are an exception (exception handling)
From early childhood we learn that sometimes it is acceptable to make an exception, to
treat oneself to something special. Preschools in Australia teach children that foods fall into
two categories: always foods and sometimes foods, and that we would usually eat always
foods, but on a special occasion it is acceptable to have sometimes foods. Similarly, this group
of beliefs is all about arguing that vacation behaviour is sometimes behaviour, which is an
exception, and therefore the usual behavioural rules do not apply. Exception handling is a
term that refers specifically to the management of situations where the standard process is
interrupted. In the field of programming, a subroutine is executed that deals with exceptions
(for example, Strong & Miller, 1995; Hagen & Alonso, 2000). Once the exceptional situation
is over, the standard routine continues. This group of beliefs has been named “exception
handling” because the basic operation is similar: people in standard mode, at home, behave in
an environmentally friendly way, but on vacation a different “program” is executed.
In this group of beliefs there appear to be two arguments; one is that vacations are a
special treat, an exception that justifies different behavioural rules:
It’s my once-in-a-life chance and I want to do it regardless (prompted, female, 52
years old).
I took five kids to the snow and I know that making snow is not considered as friendly
to the environment, but you know what, they enjoyed it (prompted, male, 65 years
The second belief in this group is similar, but goes one step further by identifying not only
the exceptional status of vacations, but also emphasizing that usually I am a good person,
thus providing additional justification that it is acceptable to reduce the level of self-
discipline in terms of behaviours that have potentially negative environmental consequences.
Examples include:
It’s like a diet with the 80:20 rule – where for 80% of my diet would be healthy and
20% would be a dessert – it’s like that! (prompted, female, 26 years old).
I convince myself I will compensate somewhere else and that no one is perfect
(unprompted, male, 26 years old).
I do my part at home where I know what is going on (prompted, female, 31 years old).
GROUP OF BELIEFS #6: Actually, I’m doing more good than bad (compensation through
The final group of beliefs also acknowledges the negative impact of tourism – and even
one’s own vacation-related behaviour on the environment – but finds alignment with other
attitudes, attitudes which are – maybe temporarily – upgraded in importance to assist in the
re-establishment of cognitive consonance. One such attitude is that it is important to assist
local communities at the destination:
You can have a negative impact, but if you can help people to potentially become
advocates of protection, and these places, you make something good (unprompted,
male, 51 years old).
Tourism also does good things, for example, creates jobs, supports conservation,
teaches about how to be environmentally friendly, so I guess we can try to
compensate that when at home (prompted, female, 36 years old).
All the beliefs discussed above indicate that the modification or addition of beliefs can be
used as a mechanism to cope with cognitive dissonance, as postulated by proponents of
cognitive dissonance theory. Hardly any evidence could be found in the statements by study
participants that the alternative mechanism, that of changing behaviour to cope with
dissonance, occurs in the context of vacation-related behaviours. In fact, the only behaviour
mentioned by study participants that is clearly driven by concern about the environment and
the wish to conserve it (or at least do as little harm as possible) is the voluntary contribution
to carbon offset schemes, as illustrated in the following quotes:
I always tick the “offset option” for flying. I know that this probably a bit pathetic,
but it makes me feel good (prompted, female, 52 years old).
It is so cheap that I don’t trust it, but I am doing it anyway, it seems right for me
(unprompted, male, 34 years old).
These findings are in line with the insights reported by Mair (2011): when respondents in
her study were asked why they chose to offset, most responses related to either “doing the
right thing” or the low cost of purchasing offsets. Although the purchase of carbon offsets is a
behaviour, it may in fact act more as an instrument of reconciliation, as suggested by Mair:
“some people actively chose to offset in order to act in accordance with their environmental
beliefs; other respondents mentioned feeling less guilty about flying” (p. 227).
Tourists generally care about the environment and do not wish to harm it. Yet the very fact
that they go on vacation often has negative environmental consequences. The aim of this
study is to gain insight into this attitude–behaviour gap. Specifically, we investigated whether
people who were active in the protection or conservation of the environment were aware of
the negative environmental consequences of tourism, whether there was an attitude–
behaviour gap among environmental activists in the tourism context and, if so, how they felt
about it and whether they took any action to reduce the gap.
Results provide no evidence that tourists who engaged in environmentalism when at
home were unaware of the consequences of tourism in general on the environment, although
it became evident in the interviews that they were not sure about the impacts of specific
activities relating to vacations. Study participants generally admitted to feeling a tension
between their attitudes towards the environment and its protection and their vacation
behaviour. This provides evidence of cognitive dissonance occurring in the context of the
environmental sustainability of tourism. The conversations with the study participants
brought to light a wide range of beliefs that were used to cope with cognitive dissonance,
including the denial of the consequences of vacation activities either at the individual level or
the level of the tourism industry (as postulated by value-belief-norm theory). Participants also
evidenced: downward comparison, which makes their behaviour more acceptable in contrast
to worse behaviour by themselves or others (as postulated by social comparison theory);
denial of responsibility, either in principle or due to one’s powerlessness to make a difference
and thus the inability to take responsibility (as postulated by both attribution theory and
value-belief-norm theory); denial of control due to external pressures, and financial or time
limitations (as postulated by the theory of planned behaviour); exception handling of
vacations in contrast to everyday life; and compensation of harm done to the environment
through other benefits resulting from tourism.
The identification of these beliefs contributes to our understanding of the attitude–
behaviour gap in sustainable tourism, and offers the opportunity for public policy makers and
tourism destinations to develop interventions that will target those specific beliefs. Generally,
the targeting of beliefs is likely to be more successful than targeting values, which are
established early in life and remain largely unchanged. Beliefs are developed and modified
throughout a person’s life, and therefore represent a more realistic target for causing
behavioural change. Possible interventions could, for example, deliberately aim at making it
impossible to continue holding certain beliefs, thus actively preventing coping strategies to
reduce cognitive dissonance by modifying or adding beliefs. Optimally, the only option for
tourists would then be to change behaviour.
Several studies have successfully used people’s cognitive dissonance as the target for
interventions aimed at behavioural change (Dickerson et al., 1992; Kantola et al., 1984;
Aitken et al., 1994). Similar approaches could be developed in the context of environmentally
sustainable tourism. For example, people could be provided with information about the extent
of the negative impact of a range of typical vacation activities, shown alternatives and asked
to make a self-promise to keep the negative environmental cost of their vacation as low as
possible. Such interventions, based on Dickerson et al.’s (1992) experiences, will be most
effective when targeted at people who have an awareness of the negative environmental
impacts and are self-motivated to keep negative impacts low. Another option would be the
elicitation of people’s environmental attitudes when checking into a hotel – this could be
done by the receptions pointing out the environmental certification of the hotel or by
information left for guests to study in the hotel room – and then the use of immediate
feedback relating to behaviours with negative environmental consequences, for example,
through water and energy meters in hotel rooms. The common core of all such interventions
would have to be the deliberate stimulation of cognitive dissonance followed by feedback
information on their behaviour. Future work should focus on developing a range of such
interventions that specifically target different beliefs identified in this research and used by
people to re-establish cognitive consonance, and testing them empirically with actual
behaviour, rather than behavioural intentions, as the dependent variable. It will be critical to
also determine whether such interventions have negative effects on guest satisfaction or the
evaluation of the hotel, which may be negative side-effects of interventions. It should also be
noted, that people may find other ways of avoiding to change behaviours, such as shifting
from one excuse to another.
The present study is limited in that it focuses on environmental sustainability only.
Several study participants raised other aspects of sustainability which they also perceived not
to align with their attitudes, such as negative social and cultural impacts on the local
communities. It would be interesting to conduct a study focusing on other aspects of
sustainability to assess whether tourists use similar mechanisms for re-establishing cognitive
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Table 1 Participant profiles
Country of residence,
country of origin
Vacation trips per year
Years of and reasons for
being a member of an
environmental organisation
Original sample
WS1 Australia,
27 F Bachelors 6 Finance
Two years; passionate about
environment; The Wilderness
Society gives opportunity to
actually do something; I want
to protect environment in an
active sense; stop pollution
WS2 Australia,
30 F Masters 4 Student Three years; I want to get
involved in environmental
protection; interest in
environmental issues;
socialize with likeminded
WS3 Australia,
23 F Masters 3 Student Four years; to get involved in
helping people; nature; I did
environmental science class
and got interested
WS4 Australia,
27 F Masters 5 Unemployed Three years; passionate about
environment; want to make a
WS5 Australia,
26 M Masters 4 Public officer Three years; share values of
The Wilderness Society
people and want to help them
make a difference
WS6 Australia,
53 F Bachelors 5 Manager 10 years; passion for
environment; wanted to make
contribution; make sure
environment is not destroyed
WS7 Australia,
51 M Bachelors 4 Public officer 15 years; love for nature; care
for nature; discovery that
wildlife is being destroyed
WS8 Australia,
F Bachelors 3 Creative
Five years; I wanted to voice
my opinion: agreement with
many ravens of The
Wilderness Society; interest in
nature and wildlife
WS9 Australia,
23 F Undergraduate
20 Student Eight years; angry about
climate change; want to make
a difference; need to protect
environment and nature
WS10 Australia,
29 F Masters 1 Environmental
10 years; love nature; love
environment; we need to save
the nature and environment;
preserve it for future
WS11 Australia,
31 F Masters 2 Marketing
Five years; love nature;
respect nature and its
inhabitants; concerned about
environmental issues; like to
do something about it
HU1 Slovenia,
27 F Bachelors 3 Event
Two years; love to promote
environmental issues; love to
educate others; respect nature
and wildlife; recognize
environmental issues
HU2 Slovenia,
35 F Bachelors 1 or
Translator Two years; interested in
environmental problems; need
to give back to the society and
nature; love nature and
pristine areas
BC2 Australia,
43 F Post-doctoral
2 Academic 12 years; feel morally obliged
to protect environment; love
pristine areas
BC1 Australia,
52 F Undergraduate
6 Civil servant 17 years; giving back to
community; a good way to
protect what is beautiful; love
BC3 Australia,
26 F Bachelors 1 or
Unemployed 1.5 years; bush regeneration is
interesting, relaxing; passion
for nature and biodiversity
which is being threatened;
need to help
BC4 Australia,
24 F Bachelors 1 Student Two years; personal and
professional interest in nature;
love to help with conservation;
get to meet people with same
interest; participate in
protection of plants
BC5 Australia,
26 F Bachelors 2 Environmental
Two years; to learn about
nature; preserve nature;
protect environment; to learn
about environmental system
BC6 Australia,
65 F Bachelors 2 Retired 30 years; love the bush; love
wildlife; hate how it’s being
destroyed; enjoy being in the
OT Slovenia,
33 F Masters 2 Singer, event
Three years; to promote
responsibility towards society,
nature, animals; upset about
the way people treat nature;
aware of the environmental
issues and the need to do
something about it
LG Australia,
28 F Masters 3 Student 10 years; it’s outrageous how
things are developing about
waste pollution, water
pollution; destruction of
nature; love to be in nature;
understand that we need to
protect environment
UQCG Australia,
36 F Post-doctoral
2 Researcher 21 years; to raise awareness
about environmental issues; to
help redirect society from the
destructive path; appreciation
of nature and wildlife
UQEC Australia,
29 F Bachelors 3 Researcher Five years; passionate about
environmental issues;
concerned about the state of
the environment; worry and
guilt which I carry with me;
big part of who I am
AYCC Australia,
31 F Bachelors 8 Circus
14 years; it’s a meaningful
way to help environment and
nature, society; passionate
about the values of
environmental organisations
AYCC Australia,
28 M Undergraduate
1 IT developer Two years; passionate about
doing something about climate
change; appreciate nature;
want to help protect nature for
future generations; aware that
climate change is escalating
and threatens our society
Validation sample
VAL1 Canada,
35 F Masters 12 Research
5 years; climate change is an
issue; we need to be more
aware; respect for the
environment, responsibility to
share knowledge
VAL2 Australia,
48 F Undergraduate
4 Project
18 years; appreciate nature;
have a sense of connection
with country and our planet;
love nature; concerned about
environment; worried about
pollution, morally obliged to
do something
VAL3 Australia,
26 F Bachelors 4 Water
6 years; value earth and
people on it; want to help
solving water sustainability
problems; share values of
VAL4 Australia, 20 M Undergraduate 2 Student 3 years; climate change is
quite fundamental threat, it’s
Australia the greatest challenge which
affects my generation and
future generations, and I have
responsibility for my kids and
future generations to do
something about it
VAL5 Venezuela,
39 F PhD 6 Housewife 10 years; concerned about
environment and climate
change; appreciate nature;
love wildlife
VAL6 Australia,
46 M Bachelors 2 Project
20 years; aware of
environmental issues; want to
support organisations which
are effective; something needs
to be done
VAL7 Australia,
31 F Masters 2 Student 10 years; concerned about the
future if we continue to
damage the environment,
nature and wildlife; feel
responsible to promote change
VAL8 Australia,
21 F Undergraduate 2 Student 4 years; very concerned about
climate change and how it will
affect our future; I see that
there is a solution; I want to
help to get there
VAL9 Australia,
34 F Bachelors 2 Student 10 years; epic around climate
and environment; concerned
about where are we going in
terms of ecology
VAL10 Slovenia,
25 F Bachelors 3 Student 3 years; disapprove
environmentally harmful
behaviour; have knowledge
and feel obliged to share it;
share Greenpeace values
Figure 1 Beliefs used to re-establish cognitive consonance
... Tourists' behavior might not align with their intentions [1] or attitudes, especially in the sustainable tourism context [2]. Small changes in sustainable travel behavior or the pro-environmental behavior of each tourist can have a big impact on our environment. ...
... On one hand, pragmatic considerations such as convenience and time constraints have been identified as key factors that hinder the adoption of sustainable travel practices. On the other hand, moral considerations push tourists to adopt pro-environmental behavior [2]. To shed light on this complex issue, we review the existing literature on moderating or mediating factors that influence the relationship between sustainable tourism attitudes or intentions and behavior. ...
... Key research topics in attitude-behavior gaps are the role of environmental knowledge [11,23], protected area management [16], the role of service quality [17], risk perception [18], moral licensing [12], sustainability communication [20], business owners in tourism [21], environmental concern [5,22], tourist psychology [27,28], and intervention [2,26]. ...
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This study presents a critical literature review on the tourist attitude–behavior gap and intention–behavior gap in sustainable tourism research and proposes future research directions. A systematic review was conducted using preferred reporting items for systematic review and meta-analysis (PRISMA) on the existing literature from the Scopus and Web of Science databases. Key research topics in attitude–behavior gaps are the role of environmental knowledge, protected area management, the role of service quality, risk perception, moral licensing, sustainability communication, business owners in tourism, environmental concern, tourist psychology, and intervention. Key research topics in the intention–behavior gaps of sustainable tourism are green certification or label, value, rationality and social desirability, motivation, trust, inconvenience, and quality. Four emerging research trends were discovered in recent years: (1) increased use of mixed methods and surveys; (2) consideration of green or environmental knowledge; (3) role of green certification; and (4) consideration of tourist moral values. Recommended future research directions include theoretical development studies in the hospitality sector, cross-cultural comparisons, investigation, of under-researched tourism sectors, and new research methodologies. This review provides an overview of research on the attitude–behavior gap and the intention–behavior gap in sustainable tourism. Our study proposes a new framework for the attitude–behavior gap and the intention–behavior gap, departing from the theory of planned behavior. We identify direct and indirect factors that influence sustainable tourist behavior, with sustainable tourist attitude and intention serving as mediators. Overall, our findings offer valuable insights into the complex relationship between attitudes, intentions, and behaviors in sustainable tourism.
... Tourists play a significant role in mitigating the negative tourism impacts on the natural environment of destinations (Bramwell et al. 2017;Juvan & Dolnicar, 2014). Regarding tourists' PEB, most of the existing research considered that tourists' PEB and well-being enhancement as incompatible from the perspective of rational economy (Ajzen & Driver, 1991;Han et al., 2010;Kim et al., 2013). ...
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This chapter proposes a reflection on destination well-being as an overarching goal for destination development. Conceptualizing destination well-being as the quality of life of everyone involved, distinguishing tourists, residents and tourism workers, it discusses the state of research in terms of interactions among these groups and with the natural environment. The identification of research gaps, regarding especially the tourism workers and the feedback of the environment on everyone, as well as the differentiation of the groups according to their involvement, exposure and scope for interaction are presented as elements of a new research agenda. The contribution closes discussing the implication of setting destination well-being as an overarching goal for destination governance, opting for a re-territorialization of the strategy and a shift of strategic ownership from the DMO to the local political institutions. KEYWORDS: Destination well-being, Autobiographical memory, Stakeholder interactions, Destination governance
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The air-conditioning (AC) energy use in express hotels is stochastic with the high coupling relationships amongst AC usage, indoor temperature and energy consumption. Such complexities and stochasticity make it hard to facilitate energy saving with clear effect on indoor environment. However, lacking analyses of high-resolution occupants’ energy use makes it difficult to achieve such goals due to the split form of ACs and various thermal comfort of guests in express hotels. Therefore, this study made a serial analysis on the AC energy use in a more detailed scope. The stochastic AC usage, indoor temperature and AC energy consumption were quantified by proposed typical patterns with the cluster method. The stochasticity was described by four typical patterns for each aspect. After the quantifications, the relationships amongst these three aspects were decoupled by the proposed energy use decoupling model. Two data mining methods, namely, random forest method and decision tree method, were employed to achieve this purpose, respectively. With these models, the impacts of each variable on AC energy consumption and explicit relationships of operation rules for management are presented. Strictly limiting set point temperature higher than 23°C is the effective way to save energy for most of AC usage patterns. This study can provide a deeper understanding of AC energy use in express hotels, and benefits energy saving and facility operation in express hotels.
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Purpose: This article reports the results of research that examines the interrelationships between and efficacy of sustainability values and pro-sustainable behaviors of potential tourists. A partially mediated model is postulated and tested to help explain additional error variance in predicting consumers' destination choice decisions in tourism hence voiding a critical research gap. Coined as the “environmentally intellectualist behavior” a new mediator variable is tested to explain additional error variance in human-value models. Design/methodology/approach: The study is based on data collected from two representative samples of potential tourists from the USA and Canada. Data analyses include exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses that were used to examine the underlying domain structures of sustainability values, followed by a predictive model using SEM (structural equation modeling). Findings: The study findings suggest that values are salient factors that underlie pro-sustainable tourism and travel behavior. Moreover, the results confirm the existence of a higher-order sustainability construct. The study contributes original insights to the field by demonstrating that there are direct and indirect positive relationships between sustainability values, environmental behaviors, and decisions of consumers who take a pro-sustainable stance when traveling. Originality/value: By modeling values as antecedents to attitudes and testing interrelationships between sustainability values, and the mediator variables coined as the environmentally intellectual behavior, we developed and tested a predictive model to explain destination- and product choice decisions. The model tested herein advances the value theory in two fundamental ways: first, we demonstrate that sustainability values can be modeled as higher-order factors. Second, values are antecedents to attitude and other variables, therefore must be included in consumer behavior models. Finally, the culture or origin of tourists matters when examining the impact of values on tourists’ choice decisions. Political actions and environmental attitudes can be modeled as mediators to explain additional error variance. Practical implications: The study provides new insights for hospitality and tourism practitioners who must develop sustainable marketing strategies that align with consumers' values and preferences and that of destination management organizations (DMOs). Keywords: sustainability, destination choice, decision-making, consumer values, tourist behavior Citation: Sirakaya-Turk, E., Oshrey, O., Iskender, A., Ramkissoon, H., Mercado, H. (2023). The Theory of Sustainability: Values and Travel Behavior. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, ahead-of-print.
In times of demographic change, almost half of the German population is above the age of 50. ‘Best Agers’ are fit 50+ year olds, characterised by an aboveaverage purchasing power and frequent travel activities. The sheer numbers of travellers belonging to this age group makes them relevant for the (German) tourism industry. When working towards more sustainability in tourism, understanding this age groups’ preferences and needs concerning sustainability is key. This empirical study aims to shed light on consumer awareness of sustainability in guided group travel with a focus on the associated Best Ager target group. In a quantitative survey, attitudes of 1,733 participants were researched. A majority has positive attitudes towards sustainability and deems it essential in package tours. The tour operator is considered responsible for ensuring sustainability standards. Furthermore, participants show a willingness to accept surcharges for sustainable holidays or to travel by train/coach. KeywordsSustainable TourismBest AgerTour OperatorGuided Group ToursQuantitative Research
The competitiveness of tourism products and tourist destinations heavily rely on natural and social resources. Thus, the industry’s interest in ensuring a harmonious relationship between the natural and human world while protecting the world’s finite resources is indisputable. This is also reflected in the definition of sustainable tourism by United Nations Environment Programm (UNEP) and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO): Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities (UNEP & UNWTO, 2005).
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This paper tackles a key issue arising from the United Nations World Tourism Organization call for consumers to take climate change into consideration when making travel decisions. Some people genuinely want to comply with this request. However, they face the “perplexity of environmental information”, a series of informational barriers to decision-making. Can they assess their travel's climate change impacts easily? Studies were conducted with 261 potential travellers in Australia and Slovenia. Results from an empirical study on using carbon footprint calculators suggest that they cannot: tourists are unfamiliar with carbon calculators and, if alerted to their existence, find them difficult to use and have doubts about their credibility. They are also not good at estimating, without assistance from a carbon calculator, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by different components of their vacation. Tourism industry and public policy makers interested in environmentally sustainable tourism need to develop improved ways of providing tourists with trustworthy and user-friendly information about the carbon footprint implications of their vacation decisions. In so doing they can empower tourists who want to consider environmental issues when planning their vacation to actually do so.旅游者能够容易地选择一个低碳实证的度假吗?该文章解决了一个从UNWTO为消费者在做旅行决定时将气候变化放入考虑的号召的主要问题。一些人真心希望完成这个愿望。但是他们面对``环境信息的困惑'',做决定的一系列的信息障碍。他们能容易地评估他们旅行的气候变化影响吗?研究在澳大利亚和斯洛文尼亚与261个潜在旅行者做了调查。从一个使用碳计算机足迹的实证研究的结论建议他们不能:旅游者对碳计算机不熟悉和,如果意识到它们的存在,发现它们很难使用并且对他们的可信度有疑惑。没有碳计算机的帮助,他们也不能很好地估计,他们假期不同部分里产生的温室气体排放量。旅游业和公共政策决策者对环境可持续性旅游感兴趣。这需要发展提供旅游者关于度假决定的碳足迹问题可信的和使用者友好的信息的改善工具。这样做,他们能授权于旅游者在规划他们假日时想要考虑环境问题。
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In recent years, the social sciences have had a greater impact on business. This article examines a viewpoint of considerable significance—the theory of cognitive dissonance—in the reactions of smokers to information about the smoking-cancer linkage.
We present a theory of the basis of support for a social movement. Three types of support (citizenship actions, policy support and acceptance, and personal-sphere behaviors that accord with movement principles) are empirically distinct from each other and from committed activism. Drawing on theoretical work on values and norm-activation processes, we propose a value-belief-norm (VBN) theory of movement support. Individuals who accept a movement's basic values, believe that valued objects are threatened, and believe that their actions can help restore those values experience an obligation (personal norm) for pro-movement action that creates a predisposition to provide support; the particular type of support that results is dependent on the individual's capabilities and constraints. Data from a national survey of 420 respondents suggest that the VBN theory, when compared with other prevalent theories, offers the best available account of support for the environmental movement.
This paper argues that loyalty research in tourism may need to be reconsidered to account for the unique features of tourism. In particular, it explores three concepts: vertical loyalty hierarchy where tourists may display loyalty at different tiers in the tourism system simultaneously (i.e. to a travel agent and an airline); horizontal loyalties, where tourists may be loyal to more than one provider at the same tier the tourism system (i.e. to more than one hotel brand) and; experiential loyalty or loyalty to certain holiday styles. These ideas are tested through in-depth interviews with a purposive sample of frequent tourists. Vertical and experiential loyalty were supported, while less evidence of horizontal loyalty was noted.
Intention to return is often used as a surrogate measure for actual repeat propensity, especially in loyalty studies. A direct, predictive correlation is assumed to exist between intention and actual repeat visitation rates in accordance with the principles of the theory of planned behavior. However, the existence of such a relationship has rarely if ever been tested empirically in a tourism context, and as such, the validity of this assumption is open to question. This article examines that relationship through an analysis of secondary data provided by a number of National Tourism Organizations. Two tests are conducted, one using longitudinal data from 30 markets that visited either Hong Kong or New Zealand, and a second one using cross-sectional data from 152 markets that visited 16 destinations. The study determined that no statistically significant correlation exists between intention and actual repeat visitation rates, primarily because intention is typically measured as a vague aspiration and not in a probabilistic manner.