Can tourism be sustainable? Service Experiences from Tourism Destinations in Europe

University dissertation from Åbo : Painosalama Oy

Abstract: The tourism industry is growing rapidly, and thus there is an urgent need to developing sustainable tourism. The research objective of the thesis is to explore and discuss the concept of sustainability within the tourism industry from a marketing point of view, focusing on the perspective of tourist producers’. The thesis consists of four studies, each of which contains different perspectives to support this overall objective. The first study deals with how a hotel can achieve economic sustainability by creating a high level of customer service delivery using a refined GAP-model. The second study examines how tourist producers at mass tourism destinations work with sustainable tourism as a strategic marketing tool in their tourism product development. The third study addresses economic sustainability at the macro level by estimating the tourism demand for Sweden and Norway in five different countries. In the fourth study, the concept of sustainable mass tourism is developed and analyzed from a conceptual standpoint. Study 1 and study 3 concentrate on economic sustainability from a micro and national perspective. The main contribution of Study 1 is the refined GAP-model, which can be seen as a theoretical contribution to the service marketing research. Study 3 shows that exchange rate trends strongly affect tourists’ choice of destination. Study 2 examines sustainable mass tourism as a strategic marketing tool at the destination level. The conclusions of Study 2 contribute to the findings of Study 4 and consider the tourist producers approach to sustainable tourism. One of the contributions of Study 4 is that the concept of sustainable tourism should be divided into three separate parts; economic sustainability, social sustainability and environmental sustainability.