Document Type : Research Paper
Assistant professor, Department of Geography and urban Planning, University of Mazandaran
-Assist. Prof., Faculty of Tourism Management, University Of Mazandaran, Iran.
M. A. student, in Tourism Planning- Ecotourism, University of Mazandaran
Ecotourism is a kind of tourism and a way of achieving sustainable development in rural areas which have high tourism capacities.The distinction between ecotourism and tourism lies in the characteristics of ecotourism, that is to say, the positive characteristics of an ecotourism arenature and culture of traveling activities, increasing public awareness about the environment, protection of the local environmental sources, the minimum impact of tourism, empowering local people and maximizing the financial benefits for local communities. Responsible environmental behavioris a prerequisite necessity and an important achievement for tourism sustainable development in rural areas. Environmental tourism destinations are affected directly and indirectly by tourists' behaviors and activities. The researchers are eager to study and scrutinizethe tourists' behaviors due to theirsevere impact on the environmental destinations. Studying the tourists' behaviorat various destinationisresearchers' and practitioners' priority and main concern. To this end, they adopted different terms such as responsible environmental behavior to describe the behaviors that reduce the negative environmental impacts and protect various environmental tourism destinations. Responsible environmental behavior indicates that the tourists should follow the norms ofresponsible traveling in various tourism destinations. Based on tourists' responsible environmental behavior assessment in tourism destinations, this research aims to measure the tourists' environmental behavior and the factors that influence these behaviors in the desert ecotourism destinations.
Method of this study was based on a questionnaire survey research. Behavior wasa dependent variable and factors such as perceived value, destination image, loyalty, satisfaction and awareness wereconsidered as independent variables. The populationof this study was the tourists who traveled to this city and its rural areas in spring. The collected data were analyzed by SPSS software and the tests used in this study werebased on the nature of the collected data and the aim of the study was classified as descriptive and analytical data (only the participants' personal information was measured in descriptive data). In theanalytical results, at first items of each macro variables that affected behaviorwere combined with each other andwere analyzed by one-sample t-test. Then, path analysis was used to understand the influence of each independent variable on dependent variable (behavior).
Findings of the study
Based on theresponsible environmentalbehaviors and individual characteristics relationship, the results revealed that there is a significant relationship between age and degree of responsible environmental behavior, so that and significant level is . Whereas the calculated error of measurement is <0.050, it can be claimed that two variables have relationshipat level of 0.050,also there wasa relationship between nominal variables, education level, job and degree of responsible environmental behavior except that gender had no relationship with responsible environmental behavior. The findings indicatedthat tourists followed the environmental behavior in rural areas of this region. And factors such as degree of awareness, perceived value, and mental image of destination, loyalty and satisfaction of travelling affected the environmental behaviors in rural areas of Khour and Biyabank. Based onthe path analysis results, interest to place (loyalty to the destination) had the maximal effect and tourists'mental image of destination had the minimal effect on the dependent variable of the study. According to the relationship of responsible environmentalbehaviors and individual characteristics, the results showed that there was a significant relationshipbetween age, education and degree of responsible environmental behavior.However,there was not any relationship between gender and behavior.
Discussion and Conclusion
In general, responsible environmental behavior was considered as a prerequisite necessity and an important achievement for rural areas' tourism sustainable development. Promotion of responsible environmental behavior conserved biodiversity and environmental attractiveness of tourism destination and aided in the growth and prosperity of these destinations. Therefore, responsible environmental behavior should be considered as an important factor in the various tourism destinations and should be adopted in sustainable way.According to the theoretical basis, variables such as tourists' awareness, tourists' perceived value, total satisfaction, tourists' mental image of destination and loyalty to the destination wereconsidered as the factors that influenced the responsible environmental behavior of tourists, therefore the results showedthat the tourists followed the responsible environmental behaviors in rural areas of this region. Other findings of this study indicated that among the variables that affected the tourists' environmental behavior, only the image of destination had an unpleasant situation. Therefore, the most important concernof tourists about the image of destination wasrelated to electronic reservation of products, low levels of education and local staffs'unfriendly behaviors to the customers in rural areas of this region.We used path analysis to understand the contribution of each independent variable on the dependent variable (behavior). The results of path analysis revealed that loyalty to destination was the most effective factor in tourist's responsible environmental behavior, meaning that if the tourists hadmore loyalty to the destination, they had showed higher responsible behaviors in that destination. After the degree of awareness, the perceived value, image of destination and loyalty to the destination affected the environmental behavior of tourists directly and indirectly.