Featured Topic: Sustainable Tourism

Sarah Krivan 


Winter has arrived in the Southern Hemisphere, where most of the SBP staff are located, while summer is making an appearance further north. Regardless of the season, if you’re taking a break this month you may be considering a change of scenery. Whether traveling abroad to explore new locations or regularly revisiting a familiar local vacation spot, we each have our own ideas of the ideal holiday, making tourism a topic of interest for behavioral researchers.

When the desire for a holiday first hits, it may be a nebulous feeling without a particular destination attached—so, how do you decide where to go? Kang (2020) described tourism as an information-intensive industry, and proposed online research as one way to narrow down the vast array of options on hand. In line with this, Lee et al. (2017) found that the serviceability of online travel agency websites positively affects customer satisfaction.

Regarding motive for travel, sustainable tourism has been identified by SBP authors as an up-and-coming research area. Xu et al. (2019) developed a purpose-built scale for assessing socially responsible behavior in the context of tourism, which they named the Tourists’ Socially Responsible Consumption Intention Scale. Another set of researchers examined eco-friendly conservation intentions among young vacationers and reported that environmental values, concern, and awareness significantly contribute to the intention to engage in recycling and to conserve water, energy, and local resources at a travel destination (H. Han et al., 2019).

It’s not just visitors who play a part in the tourism experience, though; there are also the local residents of the location to consider. Chuang (2010) studied rural residents’ attitudes toward rural tourism and found that those who are economically dependent on rural tourism tend to have more positive attitudes toward the industry. The frequency and quality of interactions between tourists and residents also influence residents’ attitudes. Further, W. Han et al. (2022) examined residents’ support for sustainable tourism at nature-based destinations and observed that empowerment plays a significant role, with partial support found for cultural values and relationship orientation acting as moderators of this relationship.

Weighing up aspects of travel that contribute to climate change is undoubtedly a topical subject, such that staycations (holidays within a day’s travel of home) have found a niche in the tourism market. Other forms of tourism examined by our authors for which sustainability may be a factor include sports (Liu et al., 2024) and gastronomic experiences (Chen & Sasias, 2014).

Interested in finding out more about tourism from a behavioral and social psychology perspective? Our journal archive contains dozens of articles on this and other, related subjects over our five decades of publication. Sign up for a personal subscription to SBP to gain access to over 4,050 papers spanning the fields of social, behavioral, and developmental psychology.


Using logistic regression for persona segmentation in tourism: A case study – Rui Kang, 2020, 48(4), Article e8793.

Developing a matrix for assessing serviceability of U.S. online travel agency websites – Kwang-Woo Lee, Heesup Han, and Jinsoo Hwang, 2017, 45(1), 115–126.

Tourists’ socially responsible consumption: Concept and scale development – Hong Xu, Xixi You, and Yuqing Liu, 2019, 47(11), Article e8553.

Determinants of young vacationers’ recycling and conservation behavior when traveling – Heesup Han, Kiattipoom Kiatkawsin, Hyungseo Bobby Ryu, Heekyoung Jung, and Wansoo Kim, 2019, 47(2), Article e7650.

Rural tourism: Perspectives from social exchange theory – Shu-Tzu Chuang, 2010, 38(10), 1313–1322.

Chinese cultural values influence residents’ sense of empowerment at sustainable tourism destinations – Wei Han, Jiayu Wang, Shan Zhang, and Tanruiling Zhang, 2022, 50(2), Article e11154.

Does perceived coolness promote tourists’ participation in sports tourism? – Tao Liu, Lingli Hu, Youjia Lv, and Yuanyuan Jin, 2024, 52(1), Article e12792.

Tourist segmentation in Taiwan’s wineries: A cultural perspective – Huei-Ju Chen and Mathilde Sasias, 2014, 42(2), 223–236.