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Article by Leonard Roser

The aim of this thesis was to get an initial insight in the topic of sustainable tourism among young adults (between age 18 and 35) in Austria and Germany. Thereby, the focus has been on the behavior and understanding of young adults in Austria and Germany to aspects of sustainable tourism as well as on the question whether there is a difference in the behavior in everyday life and the behavior on holidays or during travelling related to the environmental aspect of sustainability. Thus, an online survey was used to find out more about the behavior of young adults in Austria and Germany. Further, an  additional smaller investigation gave a first insight, whether there are travel or accommodation providers among the booking platforms, used by young adults in Austria and Germany, who are involved in the topic sustainable tourism. For that, a survey and an internet analyses was used to gather answers to this question.

The results within the study of the travel and accommodation providers revealed on the one hand, that most of the young adults do book their holidays via the internet instead of using a travel agency. On the other hand, it could be shown, that the travel and accommodation booking platforms, which are used by the young adults to book their holidays, could not be identified as suitable platforms to look specifically for sustainable tourism offers.

The results of the main investigation of this thesis showed, that sustainable tourism is not yet really practiced by the young adults in Austria and Germany. This could be observed by the small amount of identified sustainability-oriented tourists among the sample. At the same time, however, it could also be shown, that there is not a total reluctance of the young adults towards aspects of sustainable tourism, especially by them, who behave environmentally friendly in everyday life. Furthermore, it could be revealed, that there is still a need for clarification of the term sustainability respectively of sustainable tourism. Still, most associate only environmental aspects with sustainability and not all three dimensions (environmental, social and ecological) which constitute sustainability.

In terms of the difference in behavior in everyday life and on holiday, a clear gap could be observed. In everyday life, young adults do behave comparative more frequent environmentally friendly than on holidays or during travelling. In the literature, this is partly explained by the reasons, that holidays are supposed to be worry-free and that the infrastructure, which is needed to behave as one would behave at home, is not available on holidays or during travelling. Furthermore, it could be shown clearly, that the ones who behave environmentally friendly at home do behave in a more pro-environmental way on holidays or while travelling than the ones who show only an occasional pro environmental behavior or even a negative environmental behavior in their everyday life. This shows a strong correlation between the environmental behavior at home and the behavior on holidays, even if that does not mean that this occurs equally strong.

Overall, the results of this thesis show, that sustainable tourism in not yet a wide spread topic among young adults in Austria and Germany. However, the quite large group of identified partly sustainability-oriented tourists shows at least a potential to gain more of the young adults for this way of travelling. These findings clearly identify the need for more specific activities of information and communication by the public institutions as well as by the tourism industry to gain more young adults for sustainable tourism practices. Further, there is also a need for more policies to encourage, promote and support actions of enterprises in the field of sustainable tourism, as enterprises can have a significant effect on the behavior of customers.

To ensure an efficient imparting of knowledge and communication of sustainable tourism related topics, further research is needed in the investigation of the barriers of the young adults to practice more sustainable tourism or travelling. Especially, if an attitude behavior gap in terms of sustainable tourism could be identified beforehand. For that, a quantitative survey and/or interviews with young tourists could help to gain more knowledge about this field.

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