Blue Flag

USA - Study: Tourists willing to pay a premium for Blue Flag destinations

Tourists are willing to pay a price premium for a sustainable coastal destination with Blue Flag status, a new study from the University of Portsmouth has found.

The iconic Blue Flag is an international mark of recognition that a beach, marina or sustainable tourism boat is deemed safe and environmentally friendly.

The research findings show that tourist destination managers should use the Blue Flag logo in marketing and branding material to increase revenue.

The study also found that the popular eco-label is attractive to tourists who can use it to reinforce their own identity.

Professor of Marketing, Yuksel Ekinci, from the University's Faculty of Business and Law, said, "Tourists willing to pay more to visit a location with the Blue Flag stamp of approval are looking for a destination that aligns with their own sustainability values. They hope that their choice of holiday promotes their own self-identity and that they'll meet like minded people."

"This research can assist in informing tourism management strategies for coastal destinations looking to attract environmentally conscious tourists."

The study, which is the first of its kind to provide empirical evidence of its positive impact on coastal destinations, was conducted through two online experiments.

The first experiment surveyed 152 participants to see the effect of Blue Flag promotion on price using a resort in Marmaris, Turkey. The second involved 160 participants using a resort in Malaga, Spain.


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Professor Ekinci added, "The results suggest that deploying the Blue Flag logo can significantly enhance a destination's brand identification, perceived destination quality and the tourist's willingness to pay a price premium."

"It's clearly an important marketing tool to influence a tourist's decision making."

The Blue Flag is awarded by the Denmark-based Foundation for Environmental Education for beaches, marinas, and tourist boats. For coastal destinations, Blue Flag applicants must comply with 33 criteria regarding environmental education and information, water quality, environmental management, site safety and services.

The paper is published in the journal Tourism Management.

More information: Ali Selcuk Can et al, Do Blue Flag promotions influence tourists' willingness to pay a price premium for coastal destinations?, Tourism Management (2023).  DOI: 10.1016/j.tourman.2023.104767

Provided by University of Portsmouth

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