Exploring the Potential of Social Marketing to Encourage Sustainable Tourist Behaviour in South West England
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
In the South West of England tourism provides an extremely important form of economic revenue, with 92 million nights spent in the region, generating over £9 billion in visitor spending and 11% of the total workforce employed either directly or indirectly in the sector. However this additional seasonal influx of visitors inevitably places a strain on the natural environment, built resources, infrastructure and communities. In order to readdress the balance tourism as a sector needs to be more sustainable and the emphasis for change is now placed on the individual. Social marketing has been used successfully to encourage behaviour change in the health sector, and is beginning to be recognised for its potential in encouraging sustainable behaviour, but has never been specifically applied in a tourism context. Therefore this research evaluates the potential of applying a social marketing methodology to encourage sustainable behaviour amongst tourists in two case study areas in South West England. Social marketing focusses on changing behaviour by understanding individual perceptions of the barriers to and motivations for behaviour. A social methodology then works to segment individuals into groups that share similar attitudes and beliefs, those groups identified as most likely to respond, are targeted with an intervention to encourage behaviour change. This research identified the perceived and actual barriers to (cost, time, convenience), and motivations for sustainable tourist behaviour among participants from the case study areas and identified three distinct clusters of tourists, one of which was identified as suitable for targeting with a social marketing intervention. This research also revealed that even those most committed to range of sustainable behaviours in the home environment do not continue this behaviour when in the holiday environment. A further dimension was added to this research by exploring the use of an ecological footprint calculator (REAP for Tourism) to quantify the environmental impact of individual tourists and to explore whether pro-environmental attitudes and behaviour equate to lower environmental impact.
PhD in Geography