ECO certification and tourism operators: marketing and operational issues

Esparon, Michelle, Stoeckl, Natalie, and Gyuris, Emma (2013) ECO certification and tourism operators: marketing and operational issues. Tourism Issues: tourism sciences review, 16. pp. 59-78.

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Abstract

The objectives of this paper are twofold: (1) to examine the alignment between visitor and operator perceptions on the importance of different attributes of certification, and (2) to look for evidence of the belief that certification improves operators' performance. Over 600 visitors and 48 tourism operators in and around the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, Australia, provided data on the popular ECO Certification Program ®. Using just the mean scores of importance, the study found that visitors and operators had similar views: both perceived Nature and Marketing as the most important attributes and Conservation and Culture as the least important attributes. However, statistically, operators 'valued' Nature, Community, Customer and Marketing significantly higher than visitors. To examine that certification improves performance, we collected data about operators’ subjective views of their own performance (self-assessed) and visitors’ subjective views of operator performance. These perceptions of performance were then validated with independent, actual objective measures. To facilitate comparisons, data were segmented according to certification status. Across the majority of attributes, ECO certified operators self-scored their performance higher, but not significantly so, than did their non-ECO certified counterparts. According to visitors, ECO certified operators out-performed their non-ECO certified counterparts on many attributes and these were statistically significant. Objective measures of performance confirmed these perceptions: ECO certified operators are 'better' on most attributes – however, these results need to be interpreted with caution, given the small sample size.

Item ID: 27954
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: ECO certification, importance-performance analysis, Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, visitor-operator alignment
Additional Information:

presented to the 3rd International Conference on Tourism and Hospitality Management, which was organized by DRATTE and took place in Athens, Greece, on June 27 to 29, 2013.

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ISSN: 1791-0064
Funders: James Cook University, CSIRO
Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2013 22:46
FoR Codes: 15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1506 Tourism > 150606 Tourist Behaviour and Visitor Experience @ 30%
15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1599 Other Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services > 159999 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services not elsewhere classified @ 25%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0599 Other Environmental Sciences > 059999 Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 45%
SEO Codes: 90 COMMERCIAL SERVICES AND TOURISM > 9098 Environmentally Sustainable Commercial Services and Tourism > 909899 Environmentally Sustainable Commercial Services and Tourism not elsewhere classified @ 25%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9699 Other Environment > 969999 Environment not elsewhere classified @ 25%
90 COMMERCIAL SERVICES AND TOURISM > 9003 Tourism > 900399 Tourism not elsewhere classified @ 50%
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