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Tourist understanding of and engagement with the climate change impacts of holidays.

Hares, A. E., 2013. Tourist understanding of and engagement with the climate change impacts of holidays. Doctoral Thesis (Doctoral). Bournemouth University.

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Climate change has become a very important global issue and has risen to the top of the international political agenda. Tourism’s contribution to climate change has been the subject of considerable research and debate, with the UNWTO estimating the tourism industry generates 5% of global carbon dioxide emissions. Research shows air travel dominates the overall greenhouse gas emissions from the international tourism industry. The rapid growth of low cost carriers has opened up international holidays to the masses, as well as enabling more wealthy members of society to become hyper-mobile tourists. The expansion in the aviation market has realised people’s social and cultural aspirations for international travel and has resulted in air travel becoming firmly embedded in contemporary tourism practices. Although air travel contributes the bulk of tourism’s greenhouse gas emissions, it is the wider tourism practice that needs to be addressed, as tourists engage in air travel in order to fulfil their desires for international holidays, rather than specifically consuming flights because of ‘a love to fly’. Treating holidays as a social practice, in which the type of holiday, destination and transport mode are considered integral to the holiday package, this research examines tourist understanding of and engagement with climate change. The aim of this study is to analyse the role that the climate change impacts of holidays play in the decisions of tourists in order to develop a conceptual framework of the barriers to behavioural change. A mixed methods strategy has been employed, based on a sequential exploratory design. The results of focus group research in the initial qualitative stage of data collection and analysis were used in the formulation of the questionnaire survey adopted in the second quantitative stage of the study. The survey generated 647 useable questionnaires and was conducted in the Bournemouth postcode area using a drop and collect technique. A cluster sampling design was adopted based on postcode sectors and a probability sampling method was used at each stage of the process. The findings of the research indicate that levels of awareness of the impacts of flying on climate change are high, but awareness and understanding of other ways that holidays contribute to climate change is low. Climate change impacts do not feature in the thoughts of the vast majority of tourists when they are planning their holidays, and only a very small minority of respondents in the questionnaire survey said that they think about the impacts their holidays have on climate change. Although there were high levels of awareness of the impacts of air travel on climate change, this did not manifest in tourists’ holiday decisions and their attitudes towards behavioural change. The most salient barriers to behavioural change in a holiday context are a combination of internal, external and structural constraints. Cluster analysis shows that different barriers to action are more prominent for different groups and that some groups identify fewer barriers to behavioural change than others. A pattern reflected throughout the analysis was that respondents that had taken the most overseas holidays in the last 3 years were also those that exhibited lower levels of awareness of the contribution of holidays to climate change, were less likely to consider climate change impacts as being important when planning their holidays, and expressed the strongest reluctance to change their future holiday behaviour. The results of the research illustrate the magnitude of the barriers to action and demonstrate the enormity of the task facing policymakers in achieving significant changes in holiday taking behaviour.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information:If you feel that this work infringes your copyright please contact the BURO Manager.
Group:Bournemouth University Business School
ID Code:20971
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:26 Nov 2013 14:41
Last Modified:09 Aug 2022 16:03


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