Business Models among SMTEs: identifying attitudes to environmental costs and their implications for sustainable tourism
Journal of Sustainable Tourism
Taylor & Francis
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Taylor & Francis (Routledge) via the DOI in this record.
Reason for embargo
This paper examines how environmental resources and costs feature in business models of small- and medium-sized tourism enterprises (SMTEs). Several studies have pointed to the generally positive nature of the relationship between the economic and environmental performance of tourism firms. Yet, although business models act as a vector between these aspects of firm performance, they have been overlooked in sustainable tourism discourse. The paper reports findings from discussion groups of SMTE businesses in South West England during the global economic downturn. Environmental costs and cost control were afforded relatively little importance in terms of value creation; conversely, there was a strong and predictable emphasis on revenue generation. Indirect tactics emerged for dealing with guests’ environmental behaviours which reflected this prevailing commercial logic. Green credentials were routinely de-emphasized, sometimes regarded as liabilities, in a form of greenhushing. Responses were framed by reference to social media and how online reviews may negatively impact on future value capture. Conceptually, the business model emerged as an important lens for understanding how environmental resources and costs were valorised. The paper highlights the need to ensure that contemporary approaches to environmental management in SMTEs reflect the current and fast-changing conditions that frame business models.
The University of Exeter funded the empirical work on which this paper is based. The authors would also like to acknowledge funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (RES-185-31-0046) and The European Regional Development Fund for the previous stages of the programme which surfaced the issues investigated here.
Published online: 18 Oct 2016