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Why tourists are going green?
With increasing environmental awareness and consciousness of tourists and tourism businesses, there has been a growing trend towards green practices. The advancement of new technologies has made people in a better position to acquire information in less time required, where effective decision making are being made. Going green is a necessity for most of the people, hotels, airlines and tourist visiting places, as people nowadays are more concern for the environment. If the tourist can make the effort to be green at his place so what happens when he goes travelling? This is where hotels are more and more adopting green practices, when planning for your trip, in one click, people can view on internet the different practices the hotels are using. “There is a growing amount of evidence indicating that consumers are choosing products or avoiding others based on their impact on the natural environment” ( Mohr and Webb 2005; Tilikidou 2007).
Hotels are initially located in places of exceptionally natural beauty, in historic cities and in places which are developing their tourism sector, it is seen that hotels are doing more harm to the environment and an unlimited exploitation of limited resources. As per the statistics of the UNWTO, 2011, there were 980 million tourist arrivals worldwide and this is predicted to augment in the years to come. This increase of travelers has put the natural environment in a difficult situation: water consumption, energy, waste management, loss of biodiversity, food and an effective management of cultural and natural heritage areas which are significant for the promotion of a sustainable green tourism industry. This is where the hotel industry is more and more adopting green practices whereby satisfying the consumer’s new trends and being environment consciousness.
1.2 Why hotels need to be eco-friendly?
Environmental issues have indeed taken a huge place in the day to day operations in many tourism businesses, including Mauritius. Hotels such as Le Prince Maurice, Hilton, Beachcomber, Lux* Belle Mare, recently Voila Bagatelle, has since some years started to follow the green principles and many of them have been awarded for that. (Appendix A) Consumer behavior is an important factor for the hotels in order to attract and retain their customers. Hotels have various reasons why they need to be eco-friendly such as a feeling of social responsibility, governmental regulations, and economic benefits (Bohdanowicz, 2006). Nevertheless, as the amount of green hotels continues to augment, current research about consumers’ opinions of them is lacking (Lee, Hsu, Han & Kim, 2010).
With the new trend of consuming green, hotels are taking into consideration consumer’s opinions about the environment by incorporating them in their management/marketing decision-making (Bohdanowicz, 2006; Lee, Hsu, Han & Kim, 2010; Mensah, 2006). This is where it is noted that the promotion of green principles do lead to the hotel’s competitive advantage in the tourism industry. If the customers had a nice experience during their stay, where they will come again to the hotel, whereby being loyal to it and to its environment practiced that have implemented (Graci & Dodds, 2008). Hence, it is seen that it is a must for hotels to be in the level of most customers expectations.
Moreover, hotels are not implementing green concepts just because of being environment conscious, it is also the fact that the trend has been that tour operators has increased their attention within this industry. Although tourism provides business opportunities for local companies, it nevertheless has an impact on the natural environment. With the growing of mass tourism, the effects of the development of tourism in certain regions which used to be untouched environment have caused many problems. As a result, the progress of so-called ‘green’ hotels has become one of the more important recent innovations in the tourist sector. Green hotels may be distinguished from ordinary hotels in that they aim to use products and services that minimize the consumption of water and energy, and reduce the output of solid waste, in order to protect the environment from the further depletion of its natural resources (GHA, 2010) Imported lifestyle is not always desired by the host community so this is also why hotels try to integrate themselves to the lifestyle of the people.
1.3 Mauritius: tourism sector
Tourism is the third pillar of the economic sector in Mauritius and it has from years now been reputed for its 3S, that is Sea, Sun and Sand. Mauritius has actually around 115 hotels with and arrival of 950,000 (CSO, 2011). People from different origins have been building infrastructures on the natural escapes of Mauritius, consciously or not to form a new nation. With time the island has experience degradation in terms of natural & cultural resources and it is seen from the types of tourists coming to Mauritius which has changed. More and more, the types of tourists coming to Mauritius expect to have some aspects of green elements in the hotel they are staying.
The green revolution has impacted all facets of the society and all sectors of the global economy. Tourism brings both positive and negative impacts for a country, thus sustainable development is important for an island which rely much on its tourism sector. Day by day people are being more alert about environmental issues, terms such as eco-friendly, recycling are being integrated in daily tasks for the preservation of the environment. With worldwide consciousness and trend of being eco-friendly, Mauritius also has launched a new concept that is Maurice ile Durable (MID), 11 April 2011. MID is a vision and mission whereby it is explained by being more environment conscious, such as developing in a sustainable way with our limited resources. For example, a recent campaign was “To zeT to taC”, whereby this was a strategy from the government to protect the environment by preventing people to throw rubbish anywhere they want.
Thus, with the limited resources available, the increasing pollution and with the increase of non biodegradable wastes, this is where also the MID project has arisen. Although as per the environment protection act of 2003 by the Ministry of Environment, most of the hotels in Mauritius must have waste water treatment plans, yet many of the hotels do not follow the rules and do not adopt good environment practices. Mauritius has often been criticized for the fact of engaging into enclave tourism, but the enclave model has been to certain extent an advantage where it was restricting the number of visitors and their activities to specific areas, away from local people, thus at least limiting the negative impact of tourism (Kokkranikal et al., 2003).
Much research has been done to sustainability of countries but none of them has precisely adapted it to a local context, an island. Hotels in Mauritius are largely dependent on the physical environment in which it operates, where resorts usually use its physical environment as part of its unique selling proposition. Thus, for the purpose of this research the study will lay emphasis of tourists’ perception/motivation on green aspects in a local context whereby diversifying from the normal context of Sea Sun and Sand which attract mass tourism to the island. This study will take more into consideration a type of niche market which caters more for green aspects.
1.4 The need of this study
During my 6 months internship in Seychelles, it has made me conscious to be surrounded by such a natural environment and this is where while choosing the subject of the dissertation, it was obvious the study of green arises for the context of Mauritius.
Tourist motivation and behaviors are often determined, in part, by the desire for an environmental learning experience and this is where the aims of this study are to analyze:
An analysis of consumers traditional way of choosing a conventional hotel and consumers choosing a green hotel
The extent to which consumers are willing to pay (WTP) for green practices
Factors influencing tourists attitudes and behavior towards green practices – responsible tourists
Analyzing consumer behavior – Theory of Planned behavior
The extent to which green practices forms part of the organizational culture of the hotel and how will it benefit in a the long term perspective
To what extent is green practices a competitive advantage for the company
1.5 The dissertation consist 5 main parts, namely,
Chapter one: Introduction
The introduction will highlight some factors of why consumers and hotels are adopting some green principles.
Chapter two: Literature Review
This chapter will provide an overview of the some previous research, theories, models that were used, and which will also be used for the purpose of this study. This section will as well cover some main research on consumer behavior and green tourism.
Chapter 3: Research Methodology
This section will describe the various methods of how this study shall be conducted: surveys, pilot testing, sample size, constraints, primary and secondary sources of data. It will also consist of developing the questionnaire to understand consumer behavior in green tourism.
Chapter 4: Analysis and Discussion
In this chapter, the results obtain during the survey, shall be analyzed and hypotheses will be explained. It will also analyze to what extent tourist are willing to go green.
Chapter 5: Recommendation and conclusion
This section will give recommendation to the problem found during the research, improve certain ways of doing things in hotels in Mauritius so as it can operate smoothly to achieve customer satisfaction.
This chapter has the purpose of giving an overview on previous research work, theories and models used to for the completion of this study. The first part will illustrate some reviews of some main research within the hospitality industry. The second part will describe some theories concerning consumer behavior and the final section will talk about effectiveness of this study as well as the hypotheses.
“The most important thing is to forecast
where customers are moving and to be
in front of them.”
2.1 Tourism- sustainable development
To understand why responsible tourism has been pointed as the solution to the negative impact of tourism, we shall first look at some concepts tourism sustainable development. The concept of tourism development has been formed in equivalent with that of sustainable development which was influenced by some major events such as: Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA, 1973) conference ‘Tourism Builds a Better Environment’, followed by the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) publication of Manila Declaration on World tourism in 1980 and the adaptation of Agenda 21 for the travel and tourism industry. The principles for sustainable tourism (WTO, 1995) were produced during the conference which was held in Lanzarote and where the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development recommended national governments, along with the private sector and stakeholder, to work towards the formulation and adoption of a global code of ethics for tourism as recommended in the Manila Declaration.
The theory of sustainable tourism development has been debated by many authors such as Garrod and Fyall (1998), Swarbrooke (1999) on its appropriate definition, but the simplest one adheres to the one closely to the wording of the Brundland report from which has evolved – tourism: “. . . meets the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunity for the future” (WTO, no date). However, this definition is easy to understand yet to some extent it can be interpreted as others, it may both be as strength and its weakness as well. As per the study of McKercher, 1993, debate this definition, as both industry and conservation movements can “. . . legitimize and justify their existing activities and policies although, in many instances, they are mutually exclusive . . . thus exacerbating rather than resolving development/conservation conflicts”. Other studies such as Godfrey (1998:214) avoid the debate by proposing that sustainable tourism “. . . not an end in itself, nor a unique or isolated procedure, but rather an interdependent function of a wider and permanent socio-economic development process”.
The tourism development of the hotel industry in Mauritius faces much challenge due to the importance the government lay on its competitiveness as a regional player and thus it makes an interesting case to study. In this context, the government has developed the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) in 2002 (amended in 2008 for improvements) where it reinforces the island’s previous and current position as high- quality and up market tourist destination (Deloitte & Touche, 2002). It was implemented due to the fact that the government was concerned about the impacts of tourism on the fragile Mauritius’s ecosystems. And thus, it is seen from recent years, Mauritius has changes its ideal model of Sea- Sand-Sun model of bringing mass tourism into a more niche market whereby nowadays more and more hotels in Mauritius are engaging in green practices.
2.2 Reasons hotels are going green
Green practice research has grown steadily since the 1970s (Hartmann and Ibanez, 2006). Before going into details the reasons why hotels engage in green practices, let us first define what a green hotel is. According to the Green Hotel Association (GHA, 2008), green hotels are environmentally friendly lodging facilities which employ management that participate in and initiate environmentally sustainable programs. Products are defined as “environmentally-friendly” if in some way they aim at reducing a product’s negative environmental impact. Programs such as water saving techniques, energy reduction, and waste consolidation are frequently used within green hotels.
The hotel industry has always been judge, to be a dirty industry in the sense that it releases toxic materials or causes gross pollution into the environment but it is like any other service sector companies. The success of tourism, as well as the hotel industry, largely depends on the availability of a clean environment. Hotels cause damages to the environment such as: consumes valuable raw materials such as energy, water, food, plastics of which require disposable, a number of undesirable emissions including CO2, CFCs, noise, etc. But all these is cause by its location, as for example, since the hotel may be situated in a unique place, it might require the use of private car rather than public transport, this might be unimportant and yet significant when added together. Consumption of environmental resources in an unbalanced manner creates overburden on the supporting environment. In combination with the general concept of environmental industries, green hotels rely on natural lodging facilities using operation techniques that have a minimum impact on the environment, while maintaining their business environment to provide clients with green products, green services, and living environments that are natural, healthy, clean, and comfortable. Clients thus are educated about nature and the history of protecting as they lodge (Tourism Council Australia Jointly with Commonwealth of Australia, 1998; Green Hotels Association, 2002; The state Economic and Trade Commission, 2003).
According to Foster et al. (2000), the hospitality and tourism industry is under pressure to become more environmentally friendly from the following forces:
Increasing environmental regulation;
Managerial concern with ethics;
Maintenance issues related to the physical plant; and
The need for aesthetics.
2.2.1 Consumer Demand
Within the hotel sector, increasing numbers of customer prefer to choose a green lodging facility that follows environmentally friendly practices, showing concern about the seriousness of ecological degradation (Han, Hsu, & Sheu, 2010; Manaktola & Jauhari, 2007). Taking into consideration the interest of consumers need of being eco-friendly, nowadays many hotel firms seek to integrate customers’ rising concerns about the environment in their management/marketing decision making (Bohdanowicz 2006; Lee, Hsu, Han, & Kim, 2010; Mensah 2006). Consumers being conscious about the environment, this creates the demand for the green hotel niche. Since demand for green hotel attributes are rising, current consumers attitudes and perceptions are important to study (Bohadanowicz, 2006). In the study of Manaktola & Juahari, 2007, a survey was conducted among Indian lodging consumers about their attitudes towards green practices in the lodging industry in India and it was found that 22 percent of the respondents seek out environmental properties.
For hotel operators, it is a must to understand what are the attributes guest are looking for, in order to make their hotel attractive and retain them. Studies have also shown that policies and practices geared toward managing and improving the environment can enhance a destination and consequently a lodging property’s competitiveness (Hassan, 2000; Mihalic, 2000; Huybers, 2003). Research works has shown that hotels offering green characteristics may experience higher customer retention rates as consumers are devoted to a particular hotel and the environmental practices in place (Graci & Dodds, 2008). Moreover the article of Shaw, 2000, has shown that the Colony Hotel located in Maine found that their occupancy increased by one fourth when they began positioning themselves as a green hotel. For this reason it seems right and beneficial for lodging facilities to adopt policies and practices aimed at reducing the overall negative impact on the environment (Claver- Cortes et al, 2007).
2.2.2 Cost Cutting & Competitive advantage
There are various motives for a company or a hotel to be driven by green initiatives: the need to keep competitiveness, or using green initiatives to invest profitability; legitimization, or the company’s need for improvement based on established regulations, values, norms and beliefs; and ecological responsibility, or the need for the form to meet its social obligations (Bansal and Roth, 2002). In the hospitality and tourism industry, academic works on the subject of environmental management, environmental pressures for change are often discuss, but most of the time it is focus on reducing costs and saving resources to stop future cost issues. This may be due to the obsession with high fixed costs and low return on investment typical of this industry (International Hotels Environment Initiative in 1993 and 1995), Kirk (1997), Middleton and Hawkins (1998), Green Globe (1994), Forte (1994), Ton et al. (1996).
Willingness to adopt green practices for hotel properties appear to be beneficial and business driven, as well as for consumers who have various reasons for going green and purchasing green products and services. Thus, it is likely that lodging operations as business entities will assess the financial viability of investing in green initiatives. Hence, hotels will take up green initiatives if they lead to profitability factors such as cost savings, competitive advantages, employee loyalty, increased customer satisfaction and retention, or if they facilitate the hotel to comply with, or circumvent governmental regulations or minimize exposure to operational risks. Across Asia, many independent hotels have also engaged in green practices as one of their core strategies. Damaí Lovina Villas in Bali, Indonesia, for example, has effectively reduced cost by reducing waste and energy usage. The resort partners with a local research center that gives the resort with environmentally safe agricultural and household products. The resort’s restaurant use 80% of its ingredients from its own organic garden and local farm. The farm has been able to reduce its crop production costs by 90% and increase crop production by 20% by practicing sustainable farming, such as using permaculture to reduce water consumption and increase crop health and using composting instead of using chemical fertilizers. Using recycling practices has led the resort to eliminate the need to send solid waste to a landfill seven hours away (Ernst & Young, no date). This fact has also been demonstrated by the study of Graci & Dodds, 2008, that hotels can make considerable cost cutting in operating costs by engaging in green techniques.
The first example of an environmentally friendly expansion with a cost-savings benefit was the appearance of cards in hotel rooms, such as in Mauritius, the first hotel was with Coco Beach hotel which use this system in 1998. This was an “easy win” for the hotels as cost savings were made for virtually zero outlay (Ernst & Young, no date). By implementing green practices, it means to say that hotel is changing its habits whereby it will have to do investment in green habits that are usually different from conventional hotel (Kasmin, 2004) and hence, from a business standpoint, such investments must be acceptable and result in economic benefits and advantages for the lodging facility. Chief among these benefits is cost saving (Cheyne and Barnett, 2001; Rivera, 2002; Gonzalez-Benito and Gonzalez-Benito, 2005; Lynes and Dredge, 2006; Graci and Dodds, 2008). In fact, cost advantages in the form of financial savings are one of the most important factors that determine whether a company implements environmental initiatives (Graci and Dodds, 2008).
In the hotel industry, employee turnover is one of the biggest problems of the hoteliers. It has been found in studies, employee involvement in eco-friendly practices lead to a reduction in the turnover of the cost of the property. Employees feel themselves engage in the hotel practices whereby making them loyal and also being environment conscious (Graci & Dodds, 2008). This also avoid the hotels the cost of hiring and training new employees. Hence, hotel properties can construct competitive advantage for themselves.
“Sustainable competitive advantage exists with the ownership or a valuable resource that allows the organizations to perform better or more efficient than their competitors” (Graci & Dodds, 2008, p. 256).
Engaging in green practices, has also led the hotels to attract more customers. Customers are very much conscious of the environment nowadays, they feel themselves more comfortable staying in a good environment instead of a purely conventional one (Gustin and Weaver, 1996). This engagement also leads hotels to have a good image, such as in Mauritius, “Le Prince Maurice” from the Constance group is very much known for its green practices both locally and internationally and each year it has many repeated customers which come because of the principles that it is engaged in.
Reasons consumers are going green
In the study of Poon (1993) and Urry (1995), it was argued that mass tourism will soon come to an end, tourism, in whichever way is practiced or presented, is still massive. Many studies have argued about the alternative fact, or the term, of tourist being more responsible/ ecotourism/ green consumerism, while being on holidays. A person consuming green products or being a responsible tourist, as per the study of Wood and House, 1991, define the alternative as being ‘good tourists’, Swarbrooke, 1999, as ‘green tourists’. Swarbrooke also discuss on the level of a person of being green. The description is explained below.
Table 1: Shades of green tourists
Not at all green
Read what brochures say about green issues and about sustainable tourism
and try to
is scarce, for
seek to find
issues and to
the issue, by
and to travel
have a poor
Pay to go on
a holiday to
work on a
home at all
so as not to
in any way,
as a tourist
Source: (Swarbrooke: 1999)
As it is shown in the above table, Swarbrooke has shown that there are different levels of ‘greenness’, on the other hand the table illustrate only the environmental issues. According to Swarbrooke the totally green consumer would not go on holiday because of his consciousness of the environment; however this will surely have an impact on the multiplier effect in the economy, such as for an island which relies mainly on tourism. Yet this model has many other contradictions, as for example, a person who works on an environmental project and he uses his personal transport to go to work, where will he be placed? Some parents, being psycho centric, not willing his children being exposed to other cultures, which category do they fit in? Also, the model shows also only one unique way of going, from light green to dark green.
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Environmental concern or green consumerism was defined in a study as “the degree to which people are aware of problems regarding the environment and support efforts to solve them and or indicate the willingness to contribute personally to their solution”, (Dunlap and Jones; 2002, 285). Other studies have shown that knowledge about the environment generally motivates ecologically and environmentally responsible consumer behavior in disparate parts of the world (Haron, Paim and Yahaya 2005; Lee and Mascardo 2005; Fryxell and Lo 2003).
2.2 Reason Purchasing green products and Influencing factors
According to Kaplan (1991), the state of one’s knowledge about an issue significantly influences one’s decision making regarding that issue. In the study of Ibrahim, Aliagha, and Khoo’s in 1999 has concluded that information and awareness about recycling were both important predictor of environmentally behavior. Based on Ajzen’s (1988) theory of planned behavior consumers’ environmental purchasing intensions and behavior may be influenced by a number of factors, such as the individual’s knowledge and motivation, the ability to perform the behavior and the opportunity to behave in an environmentally-friendly way (Pieters, 1989; Olander and Thogersen, 1995). A Canadian Study (Laroche, 2002) found that people who were highly informed about environmental issues were more willing to pay a premium price for green products. However, another study (Tilikidou, 2007) found that consumers would buy green products when there were no price differences.
Even though consumers have expressed concerns about the environment, these concerns have not translated into purchase or consumption of green products or services (Wong et al, 1996; Peattie, 1999; Crane, 2000). As Johri and Sahasakmontri, 1998; and Lubieniechi, 2002 discuss in their research work, it is also the fact that consumers often perceive many green or eco-friendly products or services as expensive and unattractive, mainly when the latter is compared to non-green products and services. Although it has been found that some consumers may, for example, accept a lower functional performance in order to buy a product that delivers environmental benefits, the environmental benefits in itself is neither the primary benefit sought nor the primary motivation for purchase (Speer, 1997; Ottman 2001.) “Green’s is seldom the over-riding determinant of product or brand choice but just another benefit or attribute that adds value, usually a ‘feel good’ factor to the overall product” ( Wong et al, 1996, p. 269).
Furthermore, consumers seems to be price sensitive when purchasing green products and services (Madese. 1991), and are usually not willing to pay a premium for such items (Wasik, 1992; Manaktola and Jauhari, 2007; kasim, 2004). Consumers who buy green or environmentally friendly products and services must perceive the quality as equal or superior to the usefulness provided by traditional non-green ones. This is important as customers are unwilling to accept a lower quality green product or service especially at a higher price (D’Souza et al, 2006).
Moreover, it was found in research works, many people prefer to stay at a green hotel for an educational purpose. As it was define by the Commonwealth Department of tourism (1994, p.17),
‘Ecotourism is nature-based tourism that involves education and interpretation of the natural environment and interpretation of the natural environment and is managed to be ecologically sustainable.’
This definition recognizes that ‘natural environment’ includes cultural components and that ‘ecologically sustainable’ involves an appropriate return to the local community and long-term conservation of the resource. Green hotels, is a source of learning opportunity for consumers which are naturally curious and crave for knowledge. It is a sort of new experience and benefit for the consumers. In a study in New Zealand, it was found that over 75 percent of its survey had a positive observations of ecotourism locations and “agreed that ecolabels” should be used (Fairweather et al., 2005). In Mauritius, hotels such as the Lux Belle Mare, display much information about its green practices where people can see and read and makes their own opinion about such practices. This not only expands people’s knowledge about the environment, but allows them to visually connect the information and see how it is applied within the hotel.
Staying is a green hotel usually makes the person a sense of positive feeling of having done something good to the environment and this feeling make the consumer to frequent the same hotel again (Manaktola & Jauhari, 2007). In this way, hotels, having a certificate or accreditation on environmental protection, benefit a lot from customer retention and as well consumers benefit from a unique experience in staying in a protected environment. Lam and Hsu (2006) agree on the frequency of certain types of past behavior had a direct influence on behavioral intention when choosing a destination, while Lee and Choi (2009) showed that past experience was an accurate predictor of behavioral intention in the hospitality and tourist sectors.
Consumers’ values and beliefs need to be taken into consideration when examining the influences that affect the purchasing decisions (Hoyer and MacInnis, 2004). Environmental values play a primary role in pro-environmental behavior: values affect people’s beliefs which then have influences on personal norms that lead to consumers’ pro-environmental behaviors (Reser and Betrupperbaumer, 2005; Stern, 200). In the Study of Mainieri et al. (1997) it was found that consumer beliefs were “positive predictors of (1) the number and type of goods purchased because of their environmental claims, (2) the imp