Environmentally sustainable practices and motivations of tourism small and medium enterprises (SMEs): an inquiry into accommodation and non-accommodation sectors in an Australian regional destination

Rickards, P 2018, Environmentally sustainable practices and motivations of tourism small and medium enterprises (SMEs): an inquiry into accommodation and non-accommodation sectors in an Australian regional destination, Masters by Research, Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Environmentally sustainable practices and motivations of tourism small and medium enterprises (SMEs): an inquiry into accommodation and non-accommodation sectors in an Australian regional destination
Author(s) Rickards, P
Year 2018
Abstract The aim of my research project is to determine what are the current environmentally sustainable, or green, practices and motivations of tourism small and medium enterprises (SMEs). In order to fulfil this aim I draw some conclusions as to how practices and motivations have changed over approximately the last two decades by making a comparison with the literature focusing on a collection of six highly pertinent previous studies. This aim is motivated by wide acknowledgement that the tourism industry is not environmentally sustainable, and that a key outcome needed for addressing this problem is encouraging tourism SMEs to become greener. However, there is limited research into the subject of environmental sustainability within tourism SMEs, and even far less investigating a broad cross-section of industry sectors. Past research shows a concentration on accommodation enterprises, resulting in a dearth of studies encompassing a broad range of both accommodation and non-accommodation providers together. Consequently, this thesis is a timely update to the extant literature.

My project utilises a case study investigation into tourism SMEs within the Australian regional tourism destination of East Gippsland with data gathered from 16 semi-structured in-depth interviews. Participants are identified using purposive quota sampling methods guided by an objective framework refined from categories belonging to a government-based tourism industry award scheme.

A reasonable increase in the range of green practices undertaken has been found, as well as a very small increase in the range of motivations which are driving these practices.

Regarding environmentally sustainable practices, there is a general confirmation of past literature for highly adopted and mainstreamed practices such as those encompassing energy, waste, and water. It is recommended that future higher uptake of these in the shorter-term could potentially come about if greater engagement with existing website-based sustainability resources was seen. In the longer term however, growth is probably subject to wider consumer behavioural shifts as much as anything. Additionally, new understandings are uncovered for a number of important previously identified practices, such as environmental education, and accreditation and awards schemes amongst others. Greater in-depth engagement with these is observed than evident in the past. Of interest also are a handful of practices that are revealed as being new to the key selected literature. Of these, local food tourism, which is under-recognised for its green attributes, and green boating, which is passionately supported by SMEs but reportedly far less so amongst the tourist boating fraternity, stand out as real opportunities to further advance green tourism. Local food tourism in particular may be a potentially very useful vehicle for further progress in SME sustainability if ways of convincing producers to support green aspects of this practice can be developed, together with delivering appropriate promotional messages for consumers.

And, regarding environmentally sustainable motivations, the somewhat greater impact some of these are having than in the past, including cost-benefits, customer demand, and belief and commitment amongst others, is observed. Notably, it is apparent that more enterprises are believing in the importance of environmental sustainability than evident from the previous selected literature. This trend appears to be materialising in a higher proportion of SMEs adopting greater numbers of practices, which is a positive sign. Put figuratively, this suggests that more tourism SMEs are “walking the talk” when it comes to environmental sustainability, although the actual sustainability impact of this in a wider industry sense is unknown. Notwithstanding these positive signs however, low concern over climate change is limiting industry capacity to respond to threats to the industry both in a wider sense as well as at the business level. Climate change could be called an industry blind spot and a clear need exists for policy makers to encourage greater SME understanding of climate change risks and help them adopt meaningful adaptation and mitigation strategies.
Degree Masters by Research
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Global, Urban and Social Studies
Subjects Impacts of Tourism
Tourism Management
Tourism not elsewhere classified
Keyword(s) tourism
environmentally sustainable
sustainability
green
small and medium enterprises (SMEs)
practices
motivations
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Created: Fri, 10 Aug 2018, 11:24:46 EST by Keely Chapman
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