Does ECO certification deliver benefits? An empirical investigation of visitors' perceptions of the importance of ECO certification's attributes and of operators' performance

Esparon, Michelle, Gyuris, Emma, and Stoeckl, Natalie (2014) Does ECO certification deliver benefits? An empirical investigation of visitors' perceptions of the importance of ECO certification's attributes and of operators' performance. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 22 (1). pp. 148-169.

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Abstract

Certification is highlighted as a key sustainable tourism management tool. Yet, very little is known about visitors' perceptions of such schemes. This is an important gap: the success of certification schemes depends on consumers' confidence in the quality of products and services that the schemes endorse. This paper surveyed 610 visitors to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and surrounds in Queensland, Australia about (1) the perceived importance of various attributes of the ECO certification scheme; and (2) the perceived performance of operators based on those attributes. Data analysis identified aspects of ECO certification and of operator performance that may need improvement. It found that importance of attributes varied across products and visitor groups; at accommodations, most attributes were perceived to be important, Nature (as an aesthetic experience) and Marketing being more important than others, while at attractions and on tours, visitors were indifferent. Younger visitors rated Environment and Conservation more highly than their older counterparts and females rated Conservation more highly than males. Visitors – notably at accommodations – considered that ECO certified operators were performing "better" than non-ECO certified operators on many attributes. How these visitor perceptions translate into reality remains an important topic for future research.

Item ID: 27710
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1747-7646
Keywords: importance–performance analysis; certification; visitor perception; Wet Tropics World Heritage Area; sustainable tourism; attributes
Funders: James Cook University, Skyrail Rainforest Foundation
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2013 00:32
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0599 Other Environmental Sciences > 059999 Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 40%
14 ECONOMICS > 1402 Applied Economics > 140216 Tourism Economics @ 60%
SEO Codes: 90 COMMERCIAL SERVICES AND TOURISM > 9098 Environmentally Sustainable Commercial Services and Tourism > 909899 Environmentally Sustainable Commercial Services and Tourism not elsewhere classified @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960604 Environmental Management Systems @ 40%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960602 Eco-Verification (excl. Environmental Lifecycle Assessment) @ 30%
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