Iconic Destination: a Snapshot of Sustainable Tourism in Pisa

Silvia Sarti, Giuseppe Aliperti

Abstract


Tourism is one of the world's fastest growing industries. According to the World Tourism Organization, Italy is the fifth most visited country in the world, with more than 47.7 million tourists a year (2013). At the same time, the increasing number of studies focused on sustainable tourism demonstrates a growing interest about the topic. In addition, practitioners’ attitude is changing and the most important actors of the market are acting in a more sustainable way and developing reports on their eco-friendly performances.
Nowadays, the entire supply chain maybe environmentally sustainable. From the reservation to the post-holiday phase, it is possible to select the more eco-friendly suppliers. The main companies operating in the different stages of the process are demonstrating a concrete interest on sustainable development. This new challenge is generated through the information flow between local authorities, private firms and final customers. We propose to make a reflection based on the latter actors’ attitude. Our research aims to investigate the level of sensitivity of tourists about environmental sustainability from two different perspectives: self-evaluation and real purchasing behavior.
We conducted a face-to-face survey among tourists in Pisa, in Piazza dei Miracoli, during May 2015. By using a structured questionnaire, we gathered primary data from a sample of 406 respondents. We selected respondents randomly. Pisa is the perfect location to obtain information from several typologies of tourists, with different levels of awareness of sustainable issues. Itis one of the most important tourist destination in Italy and it is an iconic destination recognized worldwide thanks to the attractiveness of the leading tower.
The results of our study is a snapshot of the current level of awareness among tourists. The analysis of the questionnaires revealed tourist profiles, their eco-friendly behaviors, their concerns about sustainability planning their vacations and their habits during the stay. In the questionnaires, three main aspects of tourist services were considered: transport, accommodation, food and beverage. Our study offers a photography of the state of the art of tourists’ awareness on sustainable issues. It represents a starting point for future investigations on strategic decisions in terms of general and local policies (destination & corporate level). The provided data can be useful to generate new inputs for academic research and to point out managerial implications at destination and corporate level. Moreover, our study generates food for thought with regard to several emerging topics.
Further research can investigate the discrepancy between self-evaluation and real behaviors among tourists, the perception of the grade of sustainability of the tourist services and the willingness to pay for more sustainable tourist services.


Keywords


Iconic Destination; Green Tourism; Sustainable Tourism; Travelers’ behaviors

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DOI: 10.6092/issn.2036-5195/5852

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