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Travelling ‘Green’: Is Tourists’ Happiness at Stake?

Nawijn, J. & Peeters, P.
Bibliographical information:
Nawijn, J. & Peeters, P. (2010) Travelling ‘Green’: Is Tourists’ Happiness at Stake? Current Issues in Tourism, 13(4), 381-392.

Several western governments have implemented environmental policies which increase the cost of air travel. Such policies aim to reduce the impact of air travel on climate change, but at the same time they restrict tourists in their travels. This study examines the extent to which the average tourist's happiness is affected by ‘involuntary green travel’, defined as reduced CO2 emission travel imposed by government regulations. This issue was addressed in a study among 588 Dutch citizens who completed a self-report questionnaire containing questions about their happiness. The strongest determinant of tourists' happiness is freedom in choosing a destination. Any policy measure that interferes with tourists' freedom in destination choice will negatively affect tourists' happiness. Six percent of their happiness is at stake and potentially 17% of all holiday trips are affected. The number of tourists involved is possibly much smaller. The best options for governments are to impose taxes on long-haul destinations, which affect only a small share of all tourists, and air routes which can also be travelled by a variety of alternative modes of transport and thus less limiting to destination choice within this market segment.

Keywords: air travel, climate change, sustainability, happiness, subjective well-being
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