Date of Award

5-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management

Advisor

Norman, William C

Committee Member

Backman , Kenneth F

Committee Member

Carpio , Carlos E

Abstract

Demand for sustainability oriented vacation options is on the rise as consumers become more aware of the negative effects that their travel may have on various destinations. Certifying tourism businesses as sustainable (much in the way organic food or fair trade coffee is certified) has been proposed as a means to ensure that ecotourism operations actually follow the principles of sustainable development. This study uses a serious tourism framework and a stated preference choice modeling approach to evaluate consumers' preferences for different types of sustainable tourism certifications. Additionally, willingness to pay (WTP) for different types for certifications is important so that the value of these certifications can be determined. Finally, the concept of serious tourism is tested to determine whether it a valid and/or useful framework for analyzing tourists' decision making. Results indicate that consumer most prefer certifications that are focused on environmental protection and that more stringent certification provide little additional utility to consumers. The six fold attribute structure of serious tourism orientation framework is validated and serious tourism does affect consumer behavior, indicating that it is potentially a useful framework for analysis. Finally, serious tourism was not found to have an effect on consumer preference for sustainable tourism certifications; however, various travel motivations did have an effect on consumer preference for sustainable tourism certifications. Implications arising from this study include the introduction of a new framework for analyzing tourists' behavior and decision making and a strong basis for creating sustainable tourism certifications that are desired by consumers.

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