Climate changers : an exploratory study of hospitality and tourism students' future low carbon travel intention

Pao Yue-kong Library Electronic Theses Database

Climate changers : an exploratory study of hospitality and tourism students' future low carbon travel intention

 

Author: Pang, Feng-hsien Sharon
Title: Climate changers : an exploratory study of hospitality and tourism students' future low carbon travel intention
Degree: DHTM
Year: 2011
Subject: Transportation -- Environmental aspects.
Transportation -- Environmental aspects -- Public opinion.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: School of Hotel and Tourism Management
Pages: x, 141 p. : ill. ; 30 cm.
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2463143
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/6358
Abstract: Given the fact that tourism contributes significantly to climate change, which challenges human life in many ways, the purpose of this thesis was to explore key factors influencing low carbon travel intentions. Based on the Responsible Environmental Behaviour (REB) model proposed by Hines, Hungerford, and Tomera (1987), a model was derived to study travel intentions within a low-carbon paradigm. The thesis utilized part of the data collected in a global project jointly organized by Hong Kong Polytechnic University and James Cook University in Australia. The objective of this international project was to explore tourism and hospitality students' attitudes to climate change and global warming. In total, students from 63 partner institutions located in 22 economies were surveyed. These students are likely to be more aware of tourism issues than others students, and therefore, can act as important change agents. Descriptive analyses were employed to explore their travel patterns, attitudes and preferences in tourism and the environment. Hierarchical regression and logistic regression analysis were used to explore key factors in determining low carbon travel intentions. ANOVA was used to understand the effect of situation specific cognition and travel experience on overall willingness for low carbon travel. This thesis contributes to the behavioural research literature in several ways. First, while prior studies cannot reach an agreement on attitudes predicting behaviour, this thesis revealed that generic attitudes did not support specific action; however, specific attitudes toward a problem (i.e. belief that tourism contributes to climate change) has shown robust predictive power in specific action intentions (i.e. low carbon travel intentions). Second, self-efficacy appeared to be a crucial concept in understanding issues related to climate change and low carbon travel intention. Third, change of past behaviour was proposed as an additional variable into REB; and the results suggest that general behaviour (e.g. saving electricity, recycling) cannot alter one’s intention to opt for low carbon travel. Only changes of specific behaviour (i.e. vacation habits) results in opting for low carbon travel. Lastly, prior studies mentioned that gender moderates environmental attitudes (Mohai, 1992; Kellstedt et al., 2008), but this thesis did not confirm such findings. However, gender remained significant as a predictor in low carbon travel. No moderating effects were found as previous studies claimed. Practically speaking, this thesis raises some critical issues that deserve attention from both the industry and educators. First, students generally take little personal responsibility for climate change. This results in a problem which needs to be addressed within hospitality and tourism education. The fault could lie in the current existing curriculum which is heavily focused on practical training and generic management education, rather than on personal responsibility. A lack of consideration for the effects of travel on climate change is a real worry for the future of the industry considering the implications of climate change for tourism. It is suggested that an emphasis on personal responsibility, the relationship between tourism and climate change, and the importance of self-efficacy should be considered for incorporation in future courses, so that the link can be established between personal actions and consequences. After all, it is our hope that our graduates, who are the future of the industry, can make socially responsible decisions when they are tourists as well as when they are in managerial positions.

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