Tourist Attitudes Towards the Environment

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  • This article was downloaded by: [the Bodleian Libraries of the University ofOxford]On: 16 October 2014, At: 07:36Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH,UK

    Journal of Teaching in Travel &TourismPublication details, including instructions forauthors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/wttt20

    Tourist Attitudes Towards theEnvironmentSimon Hudson a & Brent Ritchie ba University of Calgary , 2500 University Drive NW,Calgary, Alberta, Canada , T2N 1N4b World Tourism Education & Research Center ,University of Calgary , 2500 University Drive NW,Calgary, Alberta, Canada , T2N 1N4Published online: 14 Oct 2008.

    To cite this article: Simon Hudson & Brent Ritchie (2001) Tourist Attitudes Towardsthe Environment, Journal of Teaching in Travel & Tourism, 1:4, 1-18, DOI: 10.1300/J172v01n04_01

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1300/J172v01n04_01

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  • Tourist Attitudes Towards the Environment:

    A Critique

    of the Contingent Valuation Method

    as a Research Tool

    for Measuring Willingness to Pay

    Simon HudsonBrent Ritchie

    ABSTRACT. This article evaluates the Contingent Valuation Method(CVM) as a tool for measuring the economic benefits of the provision ofnon-marketed tourism products. CVM was used to measure skiers will-ingness to pay (WTP) for an environmentally friendly ski destination.Skiers from three different nationalities were surveyed, and although theywere more likely to visit a resort that is environmentally responsible, notall of them would pay more for the privilege. Use of the CVM indicated astrong correlation between WTP and the cost of the holiday, level of in-come, and level of environmental conscience. The authors conclude that

    Simon Hudson is Associate Professor, University of Calgary, 2500 UniversityDrive NW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4 (E-mail: shudson@mgmt.ucalgary.ca).

    Brent Ritchie is Chair of the World Tourism Education & Research Center, Univer-sity of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4(E-mail: britchie@mgmt.ucalgary.ca).

    Journal of Teaching in Travel & Tourism, Vol. 1(4) 2001 2001 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved. 1

    ARTICLES

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  • although CVM can provide useful data for tourism decision-makers, itdoes have its limitations. [Article copies available for a fee from The HaworthDocument Delivery Service: 1-800-342-9678. E-mail address: Website: 2001 by TheHaworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved.]

    KEYWORDS. Contingent valuation, willingness-to-pay, skiing, envi-ronment, tourism

    INTRODUCTION

    Conflicts between environmentalists and ski resort developers can befound around the world, and there is no better example than in the BanffNational Park in Alberta, Canada. The dilemma of balancing the protec-tion of National Park values while making provision for their enjoy-ment is a longstanding one, which has become progressively moredifficult with the continued increase in recreation and tourist demand(Sadler, 1983). Commercial skiing in Banff/Lake Louise evolved in cir-cumstances, and was guided by attitudes, that are quite different tothose that apply today when primary importance is attached to heritageand preservation. At the time of writing, Lake Louise and three other skiareas in Alberta were pursuing legal action against Parks Canada andthe Heritage Minister, Sheila Copps, over a new policy that would cutback ski area operations, cap daily skier capacity, and restrict future ex-pansions in Banff and Jasper National Parks.

    It has been argued that there could be an opportunity for resorts togain a competitive advantage by positioning themselves as environ-mentally responsible (Hudson, 1996), and there is evidence of a newmanagement style and new commitment to have skiing co-exist withthe environment (Castle, 1999). However, little is known about skiersenvironmental knowledge and awareness, or their willingness to payfor greener tourism products. With a proposed cap on the number ofskiers permitted to visit the Banff National Park, and the huge increasein tourist numbers predicted by the World Tourism Organization(McDowell, 1999), it is inevitable that prices will have to rise (Urquhart,1998). It is therefore critical that tourism providers understand howmuch skiers are willing to pay to preserve the environment in the Na-tional Park.

    2 JOURNAL OF TEACHING IN TRAVEL & TOURISM

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  • WILLINGNESS TO PAY FOR ENVIRONMENTALLYFRIENDLY TOURISM PRODUCTS

    International leisure travelers are increasingly motivated by the qualityof destination landscapes, in terms of environmental health and of the di-versity and integrity of natural and cultural resources. Studies of Germanand American travel markets indicate that environmental considerationsare now a significant element of travelers destination-choosing process,down toin the case of the Germansthe environmental programs oper-ated by individual hotels (Ayala, 1996). It has been suggested 40 per centof Canadians consider the environmental track record of both holidaycompany and destination when booking a holiday (Kiernan, 1992). Inter-national travelers also share willingness to contribute to the preservationand enhancement of natural environments (Ayala, 1996). The EuropeanTourism Institute claim that more than half of all travelers are willing topay up to 20 per cent more for a holiday in a natural preserved environ-ment. Certainly in the US, the growth in special interest nature-orien-tated travel reflects the increasing concern for the environment.

    The limited research on skiers and their environmental commitmenthas produced contradictory results. A Roper survey discovered that ski-ers, more than many other groups of tourists, were especially worriedabout the environmental results of development and growth (NSAA,1994). Also, SKI Magazine say they have conducted numerous inde-pendent surveys over the past decade that show skiers are more con-cerned about the environment than all other sportsmen (Bigford, 1999).However, Fry (1995) found that skiers dont have strong views about theenvironment, and more experienced skiers actually favor expansion ofski areas. And at a recent meeting of the Environmental ProtectionAgency (EPA) in Denver (November, 1999), delegates agreed that it wasunlikely consumers would make mountain resort vacation decisionsbased on how environmentally friendly the resort was (Harbaugh, 1999).

    In a recent environmental awareness study in Austria, the majority ofskiers (59%) said they were prepared to pay an environmental tax if itwould mean that something constructive would be done for the environ-ment in their chosen holiday resort (Weiss et al., 1998). The authorssuggest that the fact that skiers predominantly come from higher socio-economic groups in society may explain the high degree of willingnessto cover any environmental disturbance, caused by their leisure pur-suits, by paying taxes. Although the skiers in the Austrian study showeda high degree of environmental awareness, they were not prepared to re-

    Simon Hudson and Brent Ritchie 3

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  • strict their skiing to protect the countryside, and did not agree with lim-ited sale of lift tickets.

    OBJECTIVES OF STUDY

    The hypothesis that tourists will pay more for environmentallyfriendly tourism products lacks empirical verification. Are skiers reallyworried about the environmental impacts of skiing, and if so, how muchare they willing to pay for a deeper environmental commitment from skidestinations, whether it be enforced or not? These questions drove themain objectives of this research project, which were:

    to review the Contingent Valuation Method (CVM) as a tool formeasuring Willingness-to-Pay (WTP).

    to clarify how much exactly, skiers are willing-to-pay for a moreenvironmentally friendly skiing product.

    to make theoretical and practical recommendations based on theresearch findings.

    THE CONTINGENT VALUATION METHOD

    Price is a potentially powerful tool to move towards greater effi-ciency, fairness and environmentally sustainable management, but iscurrently underutilized (Laarman and Gregerson, 1996). Most studiesof WTP rely on one of two analytical methods: travel cost and contin-gent valuation. In practice, however, the travel-cost approach is em-ployed more often to value and defend nature-based tourism as a landuse rather than to guide pricing. While the travel-cost method isgrounded in observed market behavior, CVM poses hypothetical whatif questions about how individuals would respond to specified pricesfor tourism productsin this case, how much they are willing to pay forspecific improvements in the environment they are skiing in. Individ-uals are asked about their contingent valuation (if this happens,what would you be willing to pay?).

    CVM first came into use in the early 1960s, and is closely associatedwith Davis, who explored the potential of a survey design to simulate amarket that would put the interviewer in the position of seller who elic-its the highest possible bid from the user for the services being offered(Davis, 1963, pp. 245). There are now over 2,000 papers and studies

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  • dealing with CV (Carson, 2000), and representative tourism applica-tions include a study by Cicchetti and Smith (1973) who examined thevalue of reducing crowding on wilderness trails in Spain, CVM studiesat Nairobi National Park (Abala, 1987), and studies in several parks inCosta Rica (Baldares and Laarman, 1991; Hanrahan et al., 1992). Anumber of studies have also successfully used CVM to value recreationgoods (Cobbing and Slee, 1993; Benson and Willis, 1991; Bishop andWelsh, 1992; Bennett et al., 1995; Christie, 1999).

    Over the years, more and more scholars have entered the debate as tothe efficacy of CVM, in real and potential terms, as a means for valuingpublic goods. Table 1 summarizes the divergent thinking of both criticsand proponents of CVM.

    Critics of CVM

    According to Cummings et al. (1986) in their book assessing CVM,the criticisms of CVM point to a disarray and confusion amongst CVMresearchers attributable to two central facts. First, there has been a lackof consensus amongst researchers as to the priority issues and hypothe-ses that warrant empirical focus. Secondly, CVM researchers have beenapologetic, or defensive, due to the pervasive feeling that interrogatedresponses by individuals to hypothetical propositions must be, at best,inferior to hard market data.

    Simon Hudson and Brent Ritchie 5

    TABLE 1. The Divergent Views of the Contingent Valuation Method

    Critics of CVM Proponents of CVM

    Respondents will engage in strategicbehavior (Bohm, 1972; Scott, 1965; Abala,1987; Knestch and Davis, 1974; Posavac,1998).

    Strategic bias is not a significant problemfor CV studies under most conditions(Mitchell and Carson, 1989; Smith, 1977;Brookshire et al., 1976).

    Respondents will not give meaningfulanswers (Kahneman, 1986; Freeman, 1979;Feenburg and Mills, 1980; Cummings et al.,1986).

    WTP surveys provide meaningfulevaluations (Cummings et al., 1995;Knetsch and Davis, 1974; Mitchell andCarson, 1989).

    Opinions or attitudes may be poorpredictors of actual behavior (Bishop andHeberlein, 1986; Feenberg and Mills, 1980;Loomis et al., 1996; Byrnes and Goodman,1999).

    There is strong support for the ability ofsurveys to predict behavior (Randall et al.,1983; Cummings et al., 1995; Mitchell andCarson, 1989).

    Biases arise from the framing of WTPquestions in the CVM questionnaire(Tversky and Kahneman, 1981).

    Careful questionnaire design can controlpotential biases (Hanemann, 1994; Smith,1994; Bateman and Langford, 1997; Arrowet al., 1993; Christie, 1999).

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  • Economists have raised four main objections to the use of CVM.Firstly, some believe that survey respondents will engage in strategicbehavior by giving answers deliberately calculated to influence policymakers (Bohm, 1972; Scott, 1965). Abala (1987) suggests that consum-ers may understate their preference for the good as they may escape be-ing charged as much as they are willing to pay. On the other hand,Knestch and Davis (1974) argue that recreationists may intentionallybid up their apparent benefits in order to make a case for preserving theenvironment in question. Posavac (1998) also provides evidence ofstrategic overbidding in contingent valuation.

    Secondly, critics suggest that those surveyed will not be motivatedto search their preferences with sufficient care to give meaningful an-swers. They believe crucial contrary-to-fact questions are unlikely tobe answered accurately, because of peoples lack of incentive andability (Kahneman 1986; Freeman, 1979; Feenburg and Mills, 1980).Cummings et al. (1986) suggest that there is l...

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