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A Study on How New Trends in Eco-Tourism Affects Tourists' Travel Plans

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1.1 Introduction

For the last two decades, talks about climate changes have fueled plenty of discussions around the world among government and peoples alike. An examples, the Kyoto protocol in 1997(UN) have forced countries to commit Green House Gasses reduction and to commit more environmentally responsible policies in general. Beyond that, effort have been made to curb our consumption of natural resources and move toward a sustainable way of living for stakeholders in all industries.

The tourism industry is no exceptions. Mainly due to energy use in buildings (hotels, restaurants etc) and tourism transports, tourism is among the cause of climate change. It is estimated that it accounts for 5% of all emissions of GHG. However, tourism is one of the most effective tools to face development challenges (World Tourism Organization - WTO). Actors of the economy and countries worldwide have taken measures to ensure that we limit our carbon footprint and the tourism is part of that effort. WTO highlighted, in 2007 during the Bali Climate Change Conference, the need to encourage truly sustainable tourism and travel patterns that reflects "quadruple bottom line" of environmental, social, economic and climate responsiveness. Responses from the industry and government have already started to take shape in order to have a more sustainable tourism. Airplanes and transportations are built to be more fuel efficient. Green practices can be witnessed in hotels and resorts, such as the reuse of towels, smart electricity consumption. Restaurants are banning endangered fish from their menus and are buying more local products.

As a consequence of different policies put in place by regulatory bodies and consumers realizing the impact of their behavior on the environment to some extent, people are adopting more environmentally friendly practices at home(reduce water and electricity consumption, recycling, car pooling etc..). . Will these new green behaviors practiced at home be carried on by tourists once they travel abroad? This study aims to find out how people are affected by new environmentally friendly policies have affected travelers behavior.

The hypothesis of this study is as follow: Tourist are becoming more environmentally and socially responsible when it comes to tourism activities. The objectives will be to test if this statement is true or false. If travelers are indeed becoming more conscious, we will try to determine to which extent they practice this ecotourism.

1.2 Literature review

Many studies over the recent years have focused on sustainable tourism and eco-tourism. As one of the fastest growing sector in the tourism industry, many authors have developed research from many point of view from behavioral, psychological and social sciences to economical. For the purpose of this study a few pertaining several ones pertaining the relations between tourists' perception and eco-tourism. One study from Fairweather at al.(2005) tried to determine the relationship between visitor response to eco-labels and their environmental values. It suggests that visitors in New Zealand will favorably receive the development of Green establishment in the country. This study focused on visitors' attitudes and their behavior. It was found that although visitors were very favorable to the creation of eco-labels in New Zealand and recognize that there was a need for such establishment, a great majority weren't committed to using those establishments yet. Especially if it meant that they would pay higher cost. Another study by Kim Y. et al.(2010) however have found different result and support the fact that at the same price, majority of customers are willing to pay for a green hotels despite the inconveniences that this choice may bring with if(reuse of towels, using recycled products etc).

Another study conducted in Australia, by Lee W.H. et al.(2005) investigates if there are any changes in tourists' environmental knowledge, awareness, attitudes and behavioral intentions between the moments they arrive at the resort and after they leave it. The study expected to find significant changes in tourists behavior and attitudes pre and post visit but they found out that only minor changed were observed.

A study by Dodds R. et al(2010) examines tourists' level of awareness of environmental issues in two islands in Indonesia and Thailand. Furthermore it tries to determine the extent to which tourists feel responsible for preserving the natural resources and participating in the local environmental protection.

1.3 Conceptual and theoretical framework

1.3.1 Ecotourism

The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) defines ecotourism as responsible to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people (TIES, 1990). In addition, they state that those who participate in ecotourism should follow the following six principles:

- Minimize Impact.

- Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.

- Provide positive experience for both visitors and hosts.

- Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.

- Provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people.

- Raise sensitivity to host countries' political, environmental and social climate.

1.3.2Tourism activities

The United Nations and the World Tourism Organisation(WTO) have included in their definition of tourism related activities the following hotels and restaurants; transport; renting of transport equipment; and recreational, cultural and sporting activities.

Based on these definitions, this study will be conducted within the boundaries of the six principles laid out by the TIES. We will evaluate how those principles are applied by tourists in each of their travel activities.

2.1 Research Methodology

For this study the main data were acquired through questionnaire that was made available online on the website Surveymonkey.com. The questionnaire sought to establish travelers' attitudes toward ecotourism practices and their willingness to adopt a more sustainable form of tourism. It tried to identity factors that travelers deemed most important on holiday

The questionnaire consisted of a mix of 10 closed and open ended questions and a sample of 50 surveys was acquired. As there was no face to face interview, and therefore a lack of interaction with the respondents question

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