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RESOURCES: PAPERS & PRESENTATIONS
|Author :||Jorge E. Araña, Gianluca Goffi & Carmelo J. León|
|School/Work Place :||Institute of Tourism and Sustainable Economic Development (TIDES) University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria|
There is an increasing concern for environmental and social issues among international travelers. As a consequence, many tourist corporations have been exploring the implementation of Social Responsibility (SR) policies as a tool to gain competitiveness advantages. The available evidence seems to point out that these policies are not effectively influencing tourism demand (Font et al., 2012; Juvan & Dolnicar, 2014).
In this study we explore this issue by designing two Discrete Choice Experiments (DCEs). The first DCE was aimed at measuring visitors’ willingness to pay (WTP) for different SR actions. In particular the most valued policies were: (i) Labor conditions, (ii) Environmental issues, (iii) Local Community relations; iv) Animal welfare. Although there were some clear differences for SR actions among nationalities (e.g. “cultural bias”) the results show that tourists are willingness to travel more often, and willingness to pay more money for their trips if SR policies are implemented and properly communicated. In terms of importance, the dimensions were ranked as follows: (1) Environment; (2) Labor; (3) Social Projects for the Local Community. DCE results are shown that visitor’ preferences for SR policies were quite heterogeneous among the population. In particular it was found that SR preferences among the population could be characterized by a small segment of the population holding high WTP for such policies and a large portion of the population with low levels of WTP.
While all SR activities were discovered to have a positive influence on tourists choices, there still exist a large controversy estimating the real impact of SR policies on tourism demand. In order to account for potential explanations of this issue, a second DCE was implemented to elicit Tour Operators (TOs)’ perception of tourist preferences (and behavior) when facing with information of alternative SR actions during the tourist package buying process. The results show that there were not statistical differences among TOs perception of visitors’ preferences and overall mean preference for the visitors’ sample. However, TOs responses do not seem to account for the existence of several segments in the population. A further de-briefing study was implemented finding that the two more plausible explanations for the gap among SR preference levels and implementation are: i) Demand heterogeneity; ii) Markets inefficiencies in providers at the destination. Further actions aimed at improving SR communication strategies to reach specific market segments and to improve suppliers’ market efficiency at the destination.