Does climate change matter to the travel trade?

Robert Douglas McKercher, Lui Ming Mak, Stanley Wong

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


This study evaluated the awareness of, attitudes toward and opinions about the ability of travel agencies in Hong Kong to help address tourism's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. The retail travel agent sector is a major player in the tourism distribution system, accounting for about 25% of travel activity, and is the primary distributor of package tours. In-depth interviews were conducted with senior managers and owners/operators of a sample of travel agencies in Hong Kong, followed by a survey of 485 front line staff. The study revealed senior managers adopted a range of neutralisation techniques to abrogate themselves from any personal or corporate responsibility in this issue. Front line staff were largely unaware and ill-informed, and mainly see their role as simply pushing products. Cluster analysis revealed five groups with diverse views: Cluster 1, the "Deeply concerned" group (11%); Cluster 2, the "Deep knowledge" group (6%); Cluster 3, the "Moderate knowledge and awareness" group (18%); Cluster 4, the "Concerned but unaware" group (31%); and Cluster 5, the "Neither concerned nor aware" group (34%). The combination of lack of leadership among managers and ignorance among front line staff means that neither feels responsible for, nor able to, address this issue.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)685-704
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Sustainable Tourism
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • carbon offsetting
  • climate change
  • tour operators

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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