Encouraging pro-environmental behaviour: the role of sustainability-focused events

Encouraging pro-environmental behaviour: the role of sustainability-focused events (2012, Mair and Laing): Tourism is a potential setting for encouraging sustainable behaviour. One popular mechanism is to stage events with a sustainability focus, aimed at fostering behaviour change amongst attendees. This paper reports on a study of a sustainability-focused event in Australia. The Transtheoretical Model (TTM) was used to explore if and how this event could potentially promote pro-environmental behaviour change amongst attendees. TTM provides a five-stage framework, linked to a series of 10 processes of change, with both attitudinal and behavioural dimensions. The stages comprise pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance. Findings suggest that this event attracts individuals already significantly committed to sustainable behaviour who are using the event as a source of encouragement and positive feedback for their lifestyle choices. They are not the audience that the organisers need to reach in order to achieve their aim of behaviour change on a broader scale. This event did, however, support the processes of change, particularly for those in the “action” and “maintenance” stages. This paper considers the implications of these findings and TTM as a research tool for the future promotion and marketing of these events to tourists, possible applications to tourism fairs and exhibitions, and to behavioural change in tourism generally. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, Vol. 21, Iss. 8, 2013.