Author : Tim Coles, Anne-Kathrin Zschiegner & Claire Dinan
School/Work Place : University of Exeter Business School, UK
Contact :
Year : 2010

This paper explores the relationship between network membership and innovation towards more sustainable tourism development. In particular it examines the extent to which tourism businesses have introduced measures to mitigate the effects of climate change within their operations.

In recent studies of the changing dynamics of the tourism sector, the concepts of innovation and knowledge transfer have featured prominently (Shaw and Williams 2009; Hall and Williams 2008). In a growing body of knowledge, it is argued that innovation among businesses and organisations is vital in order to be able respond to contemporary challenges, in particular in the area of sustainable tourism (Hjalagar 1996, 1997). New challenges require original interventions. For instance, although innovation is a fuzzy concept with multiple and contested meanings (Coles et al 2009), recent studies have highlighted its importance in both mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change (Hall 2006; Saarinen and Tervo 2006). In other words, the more innovative businesses become the greater their ability to respond successfully. Innovations may be relatively modest in scope, such as converting to A-rated appliances or adding insulation. Alternatively, they may be radical and associated with new technologies or inventions, such as using Photovoltaic cells, so-called ‘Smart Metering’ or the latest wood chip boilers. Businesses innovate at different rates but the key challenge, as so-called ‘Wedge Theory’ (Stern 2007) acknowledges, is to encourage as many businesses as possible to innovate towards mitigation and as soon as practicable. Otherwise under ‘business as usual’ scenarios total emissions are likely to continue to rise in a sector that already accounts for around 5% of global C02 emissions (UNWTO 2007).

Innovation seldom takes place in perfect isolation. Businesses and organisations are better placed to respond to contemporary challenges where they exchange knowledge in the form of information, experiences, skills, expertise, best practices and technological insights. Networks offer a medium for such exchanges. Conventional wisdom suggests that the more extensive and/or efficient the network, the greater the likelihood for circulation to the benefit of all members. As sustainable development is in the common good, networks would appear an ideal means to encourage the spread of more responsible and innovative practices. Not surprisingly, a variety of networking arrangements, architectures and interactions have been identified as a means by which to enhance the delivery of sustainable tourism (Bramwell and Lane 2000; Coles 2008).

As a result, a number of associations, organisations and professional bodies at a range of geographical scales from the local to the supra-national have been established in order to promote the principles and practices of sustainable development in tourism. By implication, if the mission of such networks is to facilitate knowledge exchange to encourage change, it is reasonable to assume that members should exhibit enhanced levels of awareness of and practices in sustainable business issues (if the network functions efficiently and/or is adding value). There have, though, been few attempts to examine empirically the extent to which members practice the principles of sustainable business compared to non-members. In short, the specific research question which is addressed by this short paper is ‘does network membership really result in higher levels of sustainable business practice in tourism, in particular in the area of climate change mitigation?’

List of Articles
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11 Think Tank XII The Climate Footprint of Nature-based Tourism - The ca... file 19753 Nov 06, 2013

Nature-based tourism is a form of travel that is often believed to lend itself more to sustainable development than other tourism segments. In fact, the concept of ecotourism – defined as nature tourism that is sustainable – was developed in...

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10 Think Tank X The Impact of Climate Change on Alpine Leisure Tourism... file 8307 Oct 13, 2013

This paper presents an interacting multi-agent model as a new method of examining the impact of climate change on Alpine leisure tourism and ski areas in a complex interacting model network. Since tourism varies at a small scale concerning ...

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9 Think Tank X Drowning with Tourism? Stakeholder Perspectives from T... file 5964 Oct 13, 2013

Climate change and its impacts on nations, regions and populations as well as its anthropogenic causes have become one of the prevailing issues of global society and, hence, subject to ongoing debates among e.g. the natural, political and s...

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8 Think Tank VIII Responding to Climate Change in Australian Resort Hote... file 5824 Oct 13, 2013

Extensive infrastructure and client expectations of luxury will mean that their carbon footprint and water usage is likely to exceed significantly that of average urban households. Often located in coastal or riverine settings, they are vuln...

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7 Think Tank X New Media for Climate Change Communication and Collabo... file 5535 Oct 13, 2013

The Climate Change Collaboratory1 aims to strengthen the relations between Austrian scientists, policy makers, educators, environmental NGOs, news media and corporations - stakeholders who recognize the need for adaptation and mitigation, b...

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Year: 2010 

» Think Tank X Climate Change Mitigation among Accommodation Provider... file 5289 Oct 13, 2013

This paper explores the relationship between network membership and innovation towards more sustainable tourism development. In particular it examines the extent to which tourism businesses have introduced measures to mitigate the effects of...

Author: Tim Coles, Anne-Kathrin Zschiegner & Claire Dinan 

Year: 2010 

5 Think Tank XIV Exploring the potential of Community Based Ecotourism ... file 4830 Jun 27, 2014

Development in developing countries often results in mass land-use change and subsequent increase in greenhouse gas emission by deforestation or forest degradation. For instance, approximately a-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions was a...

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4 Think Tank XII Sustainable Tourism: Is it better to travel or not to ... file 4765 Nov 06, 2013

Tourism’s growing contribution to climate change has come to the forefront of the sustainable tourism literature as evidenced by the Journal of Sustainable Tourism’s (JOST) 2010 publication of a special issue titled “Tourism: Adapting to Cli...

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3 Think Tank IX Exploring Tourists’ Environmental Learning, Values, an... file 4445 Oct 13, 2013

There is a need for a research agenda, which achieves a holistic understanding of the nature and influences of environmental learning on tourists’ environmental values and travel experiences in relation to climate change. Why, because touri...

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2 Think Tank VIII Tourism Professionals’ Attitudes towards Climate Chang... file 3221 Oct 13, 2013

This paper discusses three aspects of the interrelationship between tourism and climate change: the perception of the problems related to global warming by tourism professionals, their suggestions concerning possible actions that can be tak...

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1 Think Tank XII Virtual Mobilities and Sustainable Tourism: Virtual Fi... file 2747 Nov 06, 2013

Due to the financial constraints on the part of the educational institution as well as the student, offsetting the GHG emissions generated by the fieldtrip is often not regarded as financially feasible, or subject to doubts about the integri...

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