A joint study by the University of the Balearic Islands and the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria analyses the attitude of tourists towards the circular economy and their environmental behaviour.

Dr Marta Jacob, senior lecturer of the Department of Applied Economics at the UIB - Photo: A.Costa / UIB

Dr Marta Jacob, senior lecturer of the Department of Applied Economics at the UIB – Photo: A.Costa / UIB

Coastal regions in general, and island destinations in particular, rely on the coast to develop their economy and tourism industry. However, the growth and development of tourism can alter the state of the coastal environment, generating negative externalities, such as the degradation of seawater, the deterioration of flora and fauna, the pollution resulting from CO₂ emissions, the erosion and destruction of ecosystems or the depletion of natural resources. As a matter of fact, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands lead the ranking of autonomous regions in terms of their waste generation per capita. Hence, due to their status as archipelagos, they are highly vulnerable destinations with meagre resources. In light of this reality, a shift towards circular economy production models in tourism is required. Therefore, research on the circular economy – a relatively young field of research – is critical so as to develop a more sustainable tourism industry.

Dr Marta Jacob, senior lecturer of the Department of Applied Economics at the UIB, recently published an article alongside ULPGC-based Carlos Rodríguez, a PhD student of the PhD programme in Tourism, Economics and Management, and Carmen Florido, of the Tourism and Sustainable Development Institute (TIDES), in which they analyse the attitude towards the circular economy, the environmental behaviour and the circular practices of the tourists lodged in a hotel on the island of Gran Canaria.

The main results show that older tourists and women have a more circular attitude and behaviour, that the attitude of tourists towards circular practices varies based on their socio-economic status, and that using recycling bins and reusing towels are among the most common circular practices carried out by tourists.

In addition, it seems like most tourists are willing to pay higher a price in order to stay in more environmentally friendly hotels or green hotels, influenced by socio-demographic variables, and for most it is important that the hotel applies energy saving policies.

It should be noted that 86.5% of tourists engage in the same circular economy practices during their holidays on the island as in their place of residence.

The results of this article could be useful in designing specific marketing strategies to attract those tourists with a more circular or environmentally sustainable attitude and behaviour, and may have implications in terms of pricing strategies in hotels on Gran Canaria. In addition, the study can also be effective to design the transition from a linear to a more circular model in the hospitality industry of a sun and beach destination such as Majorca.

This study has been published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, and is part of the R&D&i project ‘Towards Aquaponic Development in the UP Islands and the Circular Economy. Interregional Forward Challenges’ (ISLANDAP ADVANCED, MAC2 / 1. 1a / 299), financed with ERDF funds in the framework of the INTERREG MAC 2014-2020 programme.