ECOSERV :an examination of the service quality expectations of the ecotourists
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The concept of service quality is gaining global importance in hospitality/tourism industry, and ecotourism is regarded as one of its fastest growing segment. The main objective of this study was to examine the relationship between ecotourist's environmental attitude, environmental behavior, travel motivation, value dimension, and their service quality expectations. A conceptual model was developed to study these relationships. The service quality expectations of the ecotourists were measured by ECOSERV - an adapted version of SERVQUAL scale.
The results of the study suggest a significant relationship between service quality expectations of the ecotourists and their environmental and travel behavior. Pearson's correlation analysis revealed the direction of the relationship which supports the notion that those with positive attitude and behavior toward the environment most likely prefer services that are environmentally friendly. Also, it was evident that when reasons to travel are intercultural and social, services with local cultural influence were most likely to be expected from an ecotourist business.
Canonical correlation analysis revealed three significant variate pairs (functions). The interpretation of the first pair indicated that ecotourists who perceive the ecotourist business to help/benefit the community and who have an ecocentric attitude toward the environment, tend to expect more of those services that are courteous, informative, trustworthy, in addition to environmentally friendly facilities/equipment. The second pair revealed that when the attitude and behavior toward the environment is not positive, and reasons to travel are not intercultural, services are expected to be performed on promised time, with prompt personal and individual attention. The third pair suggested that when there is no interest in intercultural social interactions but there is an ecocentric attitude toward the environment, the service preference tend to be for facilities that are safe/appropriate to the environment, and equipment that minimize environmental degradation. Also, it was evident that service quality expectations of the ecotourists are somewhat influenced by their attitude toward the environment, their behavior patterns, reasons to travel, and emphasis on value.
The study contributed to the theoretical and methodological advancement of service quality and ecotourism literature by developing ECOSERV, a scale to measure the service quality expectations of the ecotourists. It provided practical and marketing implications for the ecotourist industry which can be useful to the ecotourist marketers, tour operators and destination promoters, to target specific markets, design products and services, plan communication strategies, and promote tourism that is sustainable.