Revisiting the lock-in hypothesis on sustainable lifestyles: empirical evidence from consumption of leisure in three Swedish destinations
The International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics
Publishing year: 2010
Document type: Conference paper
Sustainable lifestyles and consumption refer to multiple spheres of human activities such as mobility, housing, food and leisure. Increasingly consumers are called upon to assume greater responsibility for changing their lifestyles, primarily through making environmentally sound purchasing choices and changing behavior. To motivate consumers, governments have often focused on improving the provision of “behaviour-changing” information to consumers. However, recent studies demonstrate that the effectiveness of these instruments in terms of actually changing consumer behavior and reducing environmental impacts have not been very promising. This is even more evident in the leisure and tourism sectors where key players in the tourism industry have started to argue that the consumers are not opting for greener alternatives. The “lock-in” hypothesis suggests that it is not necessarily consumers who may not be so willing to change behaviour, but rather contextual circumstances that lock-in preferred choices. Building on an extensive survey of leisure travelers, conducted in 2008-2009 in three Swedish destinations, this paper brings empirical evidence on the extent of the lock-in effect within the context of sustainable leisure lifestyles. The surveys cover tourist choices; their precedents and the awareness of more environmentally sound alternative options in mobility, lodging and leisure activities at the destinations. We correlate this with structural factors in the experience-offer at the destinations.