Landmark national study reveals significance of green practices in attractions industry

Jan 08, 2009

The results of a national survey released by PGAV Destination Consulting, a planning and design firm in the international entertainment, tourism and hospitality industries, in collaboration with the world-renowned Missouri Botanical Garden, reveal an important understanding about consumer attitudes and perceptions regarding environmentally sustainable operations in attractions. The study, conducted by Jerry Henry & Associates and called "Survival of the Greenest," shows that "green consumerism" is not a passing fad.

According to the study, the influence of Gen X and Y is significant and enduring. Nearly 75% of 18-34 year olds say they are more likely to visit an attraction that is pursuing environmentally friendly practices.

"We need to fully understand consumers and their views on sustainability," reports Mike Konzen, Vice President of PGAV Destination Consulting. "Because leisure choices reflect people's values and priorities, the scientific exploration of consumers yields compelling data. Our survey of attractions visitors has universal applications."

Especially encouraging during today's economic times is news that the commitment to sustainable practices will be supported with spending behavior. Almost 60% of people under age 35 expect to pay more for green attractions, and they will pay over 10% more. Most of these consumers (nearly 65%) expect their spending on green products to increase over the next 12 months. These economic decisions provide another reason why going green is a matter of survival.

According to the study, environmental sustainability is not widely understood terminology. It is believed to encompass air and water quality, alternative energy sources, environmentally friendly cleaning products and natural insecticides, but interestingly, not perceived to include climate change and global warming.

Visitors look for specific signs of environmental commitment: recycle bins, energy efficient lighting, solar panels, selling food/beverages in biodegradable containers, reusable shopping bags, and offering water in biodegradable cups rather than plastic. Recycling is a nearly universal expectation for green attractions with over 80% across all consumer segments saying that recycling is very representative of an environmental commitment. LEED Certification, the standard system of sustainability measurement, ranked last as an outward sign of environmental commitment valued by attractions visitors. It is likely that the LEED rating is less known and less understood by the general public.

"In a world that is beset with environmental problems, from global warming, air and water pollution, soil loss, and the extinction of a huge number of species of plants and animals, we are pleased to learn that visitors to public institutions of all kinds are more apt to patronize and enjoy them if they practice and display various approaches to sustainability," says Dr. Peter Raven, President of Missouri Botanical Garden and a 1999 Time Magazine Hero of the Planet.

Among many interesting findings, Gen X and Y are also taking personal responsibility for environmental actions: Over 75% reduced water consumption, over 61% reduced energy consumption and nearly 39% have already purchased green products.

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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