Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Responsible Tourism, Responsible Tourists: What Makes a Responsible Tourist in New Zealand?

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posted on 2021-11-05, 01:25 authored by Stanford, Davina

The impacts of tourism, both good and bad, are many and diverse. Responsible tourism has been suggested as one way of maximising the positive and minimising the negative impacts of tourism. The tourist's contribution to responsible tourism is somewhat overlooked in the literature and they are often seen as part of the problem rather than as part of the solution. They are also frequently accused of taking a break from responsibility while on holiday. This thesis concentrates on the actions of the tourist, seeking to understand what influences or constrains responsible behaviour while on holiday; to compare some responsible behaviours on holiday with similar behaviours at home. It also explores effective communication to encourage responsible tourist behaviour. The influences and constraints are multiple and complex and a fluid methodology was required, to be sufficiently structured to allow for comparability, while flexible enough to allow for the unexpected. A multi-phase, multi-method iterative research design was used, based on comparable case studies of two locations within New Zealand, Kaikoura and Rotorua. Kaikoura is a fairly recent, developing destination, Rotorua is a mature, established destination. The first phase of research employed in-depth interviews with industry representatives and with tourists and document analysis. The initial stage of the method allowed five actions of responsible behaviour to be identified. These represented responsible behaviours in a range of situations: environmental, cultural, social and economic. These behaviours were then applied in a visitor survey, based on a social psychological framework using Ajzen's Theory of Planned Behaviour. The survey identified instances of responsible behaviour and the influences and constraints on this behaviour. The survey also explored effective means of communication to encourage responsible behaviour, using Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development. Generic definitions of responsible tourism and responsible tourists were developed and five actions representing responsible behaviour were identified which operationalised the definitions from the specific context. Influences and constraints on these responsible behaviours were also identified. These were internal, emanating from the tourist and included culture; values and attitudes; ethics and motivations; and mindfulness and mindlessness, and external, emanating from the destination, which included marketing; visitor management; and information and communication. Awareness was considered an important aspect of responsible tourist behaviour yet few tourists were aware of context specific details. Information, therefore, is considered important in achieving responsible tourist behaviour. Information may be most effective if it appeals to good citizenship and provides a reasoned and positive argument. A three step model was developed to foster responsible tourist behaviour. The first and crucial step is for the destination to set its objectives, then, to market to the most appropriate tourists. The third step is to optimise the responsible behaviour of these tourists once they have arrived, through visitor management which encourages and facilitates responsible behaviour. The New Zealand context provides a good example of this approach.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Tourism Management

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Victoria Management School


Smith, Karen; Pearce, Doug