Evaluation of The Sustainability of Tourism Sector of the U.K.: A Case Study Based On Thomas Cook

Abstract

The research paper promotes the sustainable tourism practices of Thomas Cook and how the organisation is ensuring tourism sustainability by measuring the current strategic directions. The overall study is comprised of seven different chapters. The first chapter introduces the context of the research by promoting the aim, objectives and research questions along with the research rationale and purpose of the study. The theories and literatures regarding tourism sustainability have been incorporated in the second chapter. Factors influencing sustainable tourism such as eco tourism, community development, social equity etc have been discussed in the chapter followed by the approaches of Thomas Cook regarding a sustainable tourism practice. The third chapter promotes the research methods that have been undertaken to conduct the study. Quantitative data analysis process has been followed for assessing the current practice of Thomas Cook and the responses of the customers give rise to the required quantitative data. The data analysis portion has been segregated into three different chapters that are chapter 4, chapter 5 and chapter 6. Chapter 4 represents data in graphical format by means of tables and graphs. Such findings have been analysed in chapter 5 and chapter 6 highlights the discussion of the findings. The final chapter that is chapter 7 provides conclusion and recommendations. Thomas Cook is following approaches like, community development, integrating sustainability during customers’ journey and environmental protection in order to promote a sustainable tourism policy. However, the brand can focus on creating more job opportunities in a tourist destination, secured e-transaction and better value interpretation so that a sustainable tourism practice can be initiated.

 

Acknowledgement

The conduction of the research study has let me gain a significant amount of learning outcomes that would not only be beneficial for my academic career but also for my professional career in the long run. However, it would have been near impossible to complete the study in my own. I certainly owe a big thank to my supervisor _______________________________ whose guidance had turned out to be crucial inputs during the stiffest of situations. I would also like to thank the customers of Thomas Cook who provided valuable information regarding the approaches of the organisations without which, the fulfilment of the dissertation would have been questionable. Finally, I would like to appreciate the supports of my friends and family who have constantly encouraged me to thrive for success in the due course of the research.

Thanking You,

Yours Sincerely

 

 

Chapter 1

Introduction 

1.0 Introduction:

In the present research work the researcher intends to highlight the sustainability aspect in tourism industry of U.K. with special reference to Thomas Cook. As mentioned by Hall (2010), sustainability is essential for any business sector to gain advantage in the business and social environment. In the present era of global warming and energy crisis, the element of ecology and environment maintenance assumed prime significance among governments, regulatory bodies and social groups. It is important for firms to maintain environmental balance through the business activities in order to ensure protection from environmental hazards and community development (Cohen, 2008).

The present condition of global trend towards maintaining green and clean environment also forces business houses to restructure the business operations to match with the requirements of maintaining green environment. Organisations from the oil and natural gas sector to food sector are thriving on to align business processes to achieve sustainable growth in the long term (Ahn et al. 2002). The mergence and formation of climate and environmental regulatory bodies also compelled the industries to take necessary initiatives regarding business activities and operations to match with the environmental norms.

The author in the current work focuses on the tourism sector as it forms one of the largest and growing business sectors of U.K. having impact on maximum number of stakeholders of the society. Since tourism includes natural, ecological and cultural aspects of the society and global environment the importance of tourism sector in initiating sustainable measures within the business ensures greater impact on maintenance of green environment (Alpizar, 2006). In the current study the researcher will utilise the Thomas Cook as the study example and the work will include objectives, aims, research questions etc along with depiction of the purpose and justification of the study. In the course of study Company background will be provided and the overall structure of the chapter will be represented.

1.1 Background of the study:

The present topic of the research study incorporates the aspect of sustainability and tourism sector of U.K. In this context, it can be said that previous research work mainly focussed on the aspect of sustainability in general terms without specifying its application in a particular sector. As acknowledged by Miller et al. (2010), the tourism sector has got the potential to be the forerunner in exhibiting green initiatives and set examples for other sectors to follow.

The tourism sector in U.K. has got significant value attached with the economy through generation of capital, employment etc. Previous studies have indicated that nearly 97 billion pounds were being infused into the U.K. economy through tourism (http://www.ons.gov.uk, 2014). According to previous case studies and research reports the tourism sector of U.K. influences the proper functioning of various other industries like farming, retailing, transport, sports museums, arts and culture etc. Hence, the impact of tourism sector to maintain sustainability through environment friendly actions will contribute to the maintenance and creation of green economy concerning a vast range of other sectors (Hunter, 2007).

The sustainability development programme in the tourism sector of U.K started previously with initiatives from the U.K. Government through engagement of NGOs, local communities and statutory bodies. The programme called “Wise Growth Action Plan” was started to essentially communicate the knowledge regarding the importance and benefit of maintaining natural resources for sustainable growth and development in the coming years. The UNTWO also started Sustainability Council and Greenbox, to ensure proper sharing of knowledge concerning ecological aspects (http://isites.harvard.edu, 2014). The initiative of U.K. tourism to appoint social organisations like CoaST to form sustainability platform in order to share knowledge about green planet and its significance could be stressed as noteworthy features.

 1.2 Overview of the company:

The following research work involved the example case study of Thomas Cook regarding sustainability aspect in the tourism sector. Thomas Cook plc is a British travel company established in the year 2007 as a result of the merging of Thomas Cook AG and My Travel Group plc (Thomascook.com, 2014). The company has got business all over the world and essentially it acts as a travel agency and sometimes acts as the interim group arranging flights, hotels, guides for tourists and also involves in hotel booking and scheduling tour plans. Thomas Cook was founded way back in the 1842 with a vision to support the cause of exploration and seeking of new adventures worldwide.

The company depends upon the aspect of its innovation and the experience it has got. The company believes that innovation and experience separates it from the rest of the tourism competitors. Thomas Cook believes in the blending of modern technology and tradition for its service delivery and existence. As rightly pointed out by Farrell and McLellan (2007), the ability to mix past and future elements, ensures comprehensive and sustainable growth of business organisations in the long run. The mission statement of the company emphasises the intent to deliver inspiring tours and trusted partnership in global tourism sector. The strategy of the company involves the use of high technology tools and applications to enhance the element of communication with the customers from all over the world. At present, the firm is one of the world’s leading travel groups having turnover of about 9 billion pound and customer base of 20 million. Thomas Cook employs nearly 27,000 employees and functions in 17 countries (Thomascookgroup.com, 2014).

1.3 Research Aim:

The aim of the research work is to identify and evaluate the aspect of sustainability of Tourism sector in U.K. with special reference to Thomas Cook.

1.4 Research Objectives:

  1. To investigate the areas where organisation needs to control for development and maintenance of sustainable tourism.
  2. To identify the relationship between eco-tourism and sustainability aspect of the organisation.
  3. To assess how tourism strategy has succeeded in promoting individual perceptions of tourism sustainability and development.

1.5 Research questions:

  1. First objective

Will the keen request from the organisation side to purchase locally made product during tourist holiday vacation at bar, cafes and restaurant should be maintained in the local area?

Will the request made by the organisation be able to make any significant difference to the tourist who is moving to visit a particular place to select local guide and drivers?

Will the strict instruction delivered to the tourist gets fulfil while purchasing any endangered species, wild animals and plants?

Will the strategy maintain a liaison with the local government for the energy saving programme?

  1. Second Objective:

Is the Thomas cook will able to save the water and other natural resources in the business area need to be taken care.

Is it possible to make the tourist and other vacationer aware about the safeguarding rule associated with natural and cultural heritage?

Is it possible to deliver adequate economic return to the people for whom you are getting the business? This can only be possible by purchasing the product or service made by the local community members.

  1. Third Objective:

What are the factors need to be considered while promoting the tourism sustainability

How the organisation can take care about the consumer’s perception.

What kind of actionable plans are needed for tourism sustainability in Thomas cook?

 

1.6 Purpose of the study:

The purpose of the study is to evaluate the sustainability of Tourism Industry in U.K. and Thomas Cook has been taken as the case study example. The researcher chosen U.K. Tourism sector as the Tourism industry contributes maximum to U.K. economy and supplements the functioning of other industrial sectors. The sustainability impact has been highlighted using Thomas Cook in order to incorporate practical sense to the research work.

1.7 Justification of the research topic:

The current research study focussed to describe the significance of sustainability factor in the tourism sector of U.K. and the growing importance of sustainable business in the present scenario serves for the relevance of the study. The global situation of alarming loss of natural resources and mismanagement of natural resources along with energy crisis created wave of uncertainty among the regulatory and social groups concerning the development of sustainable business practices.

1.8 Dissertation structure:

For achieving completion of the study the researcher has compiled the following structure:

Chapter1: Introduction:

The chapter represents the aim, objectives and questions of the current study. The rationale provides the extent of relevance of the study. The research purpose was also stated. The study also included a brief description of Thomas Cook.

Chapter 2: Literature Review:

Theories and excerpts from the study of past researchers have been represented. Secondary research concerning sustainability in tourism sector has also been depicted.

Chapter 3: Methodology:

It explains the methods and approaches adopted to carry out the study. It provides information about the representation of research issues by gathering data from various sources.

Chapter 4: Findings:

The study have been represented the findings through the use of graphs and charts. Quantitative methods were undertaken with proper representation of results.

Chapter 5: Analysis

The findings achieved from the previous chapter have been assessed and interpreted in this chapter. The responses of the customers of Thomas Cook are being interpreted and accordingly majority responses are granted as the outcomes from the questions.

Chapter 6: Discussion and interpretation

In this chapter, the findings from the data analysis has been evaluated and compared with the theoretical findings from chapter 2. The discussion has lead to reflect the actual scenario and customers’ perception regarding Thomas Cook’s sustainability approach.

Chapter 7: Conclusion and recommendation

It presented the whole study in the form of conclusion. Research objectives have been linked with conclusion to satisfy the objectives of the study. Some suggestions have been tried to focus on the sustainability aspect that Thomas Cook might undertake for betterment of operations.

 

Chapter 2

Literature Review

 2.0 Introduction:

The chapter showcases a blend of theories and literature in the context of sustainable tourism practices. Literature regarding in relation with the research objectives have been evaluated in this section in order to develop a theoretical platform for the study. During the later stages, the theories highlighted in the study would be compared with the real time findings that would be acquired from the data analysis segment. Attempts have been made to critically analyse the propositions of several authors and scholars so that the gap in knowledge can be addressed. The chapter ends with highlighting the current practices of Thomas Cook and the strategic initiatives of the organisation to address sustainable tourism policy.

2.1 Drivers of sustainable tourism:

Tourism organisations can address a range of drivers like economic viability, social equity, visitor perception and resource efficacy in order to ease the path of the sustainable tourism policy. According to Aall (2011), a sustainable tourism agenda needs to focus on several external environmental factors as such factors can be considered as determinants to tourism sustainability. A range of stakeholders including the local and national governments and the visitors play crucial role in influencing the external environmental drivers and therefore, tourism organisations need to address the perception of such participators in order to address the drivers and deploy sustainability tourism policy (Harris et al. 2002).

2.1.1 Economic viability:

Economic viability could be addressed in order to ensure a competitive tourism policy not only to compete in the industry but also to provide quality services to the customers on a constant basis (Becken and Patterson, 2006). The policy implications under the economic viability could be comprised of understanding of the target market, delivering visitor satisfaction, maintaining an effective trading condition, including attractive tourist destination within the package and delivering effective after sale support (Blangy and Nielsen, 2003).    

The viability of the tourism business depends significantly on the of the organisations to identify places that would continue to develop in time and would adapt to the external environmental factors such as change of taste of visitors, change of trend and market scenario. Tsaur et al. (2006) argues that majority of the tourism organisations achieve saturation quite early because of failing to adapt to changing trend of the industry. Tourism organisations need to focus on delivering quality services as well so that constant customer satisfaction can be experienced. Remacha et al. (2011) cited that customers would expect value for money services and organisations managing to adopt such business policy could expect sustainable growth. On the other hand, Park and Boo (2010) acknowledged that feedback evaluation is needed to be prioritised in order to continuously improve the business services. Finally, tourism organisations need to focus on delivering effective business support during the after sale service so that improved customer satisfaction can be experienced and potential customers could be attracted (Page and Connell, 2008).

2.1.2 Social equity:

According to Littlefair and Buckley (2008), organisations operating in the tourism industry need to focus on the social equity in order to retain an existing customer while increasing the customer base by luring new potential customers. Customers expect a certain degree of post sale support from the tourism organisations particularly if the concerned destination is relatively unknown. Hence, Mycoo (2006) recommended that tourism organisations need to follow a cutting edge policy that would not necessarily prioritise the sales volume but emphasis more on the support mechanism to assist the customers enjoy optimum experience. In case of an international tourism organisation like Thomas Cook, the social attributes concerning customers of different geographic regions are needed to be prioritised in order to develop a diversified business policy. As mentioned by Lindberg et al. (2007), a flexible and versatile business framework would be more compatible for business sustainability.

2.1.3 Visitor fulfilment:

At the time of placing an order, safety and security are the top most priorities for the tourists followed by other benefits like quality of services and the support mechanism. Okazaki (2008) criticised that aligning these service elements at a given point of instance might not be feasible for the tourism organisations although the level of satisfaction among the customers would be much dependent on the mix of such service elements. Hence, tourism organisations need to ensure optimum mix of the service elements so that the perception of the visitors could be fulfilled. On the other hand, May (2001) highlighted a range of intangible factors that can be addressed to fulfil visitors’ perceptions and achieve a sustainable business. These factors are found to be improved accessibility, discounts for economically disadvantaged people, a regular duty of care and continuous tracking of service quality.

2.1.4 Resource efficiency:

Sustainable tourism would be much dependent on the resource utilisation process. In the words of Dubois and Ceron (2006), responsible business would promote an effective brand image of the organisation and effective utilisation of the scarce resource would be helpful in this context. While natural resources such as water land and other raw materials are needed to be used responsibly, developing a recycle culture within the organisational workforce is important to promote responsible business. On the other hand, tourism organisations need to minimise the use of artificial resources such as energy as well. As per Gossling (2009), tourism organisations can opt for the assistance of regional government to initiate energy saving projects. Since energy is one of the frequent and plentiful needs of a tourism business, minimising the use of such resources would certainly boost resource efficiency and promote a sustainable tourism policy (Pineda and Brebbia, 2010).

2.2 The relationship between eco-tourism and tourism sustainability:

Ecotourism is referred as a mode of responsible travel to a particular destination ensuring environmental conservation and at the same time focusing on the well being of the local communities. Ecotourism generally addresses the negative aspects of a mass tourism framework and prioritise policies that would help conducting a responsible tourism practice. Chancellor et al. (2011) acknowledged that sustainable development through ecotourism would only be possible if tourism organisations focus on economic, social and environmental welfare concerning the tourist destination. Hence, ecotourism could turn out to be a viable option for tourism organisations in order to thrive towards a sustainable tourism policy.

Economic:

It is a proven fact that sustainable tourism practices is likely to contribute to the revenue of a tourism organisation. Allen et al. (2008) cited that tourism organisations are likely to experience a greater return on investment in the long run after deploying the sustainable tourism policy. For instance, donation for conservation or community development programs along with the employment opportunities is likely to boost organisational brand image. Hence, the benefiters of a sustainable tourism policy are not only the community members alone but also the owners of the tourism organisations.

Socio-cultural:

The socio-cultural conservation approach ensures that the regional culture is not affected by the tourism business. Brougham and Butler (2001) discussed that tourism business often impose a negative impact on the regional communities and affects the culture and heritage. Ecotourism address such negative impacts and accordingly, approaches are initiated to create enhanced awareness among the associate stakeholders ensuring conservation of the social-cultural values. Scott (2011) mentioned that in an ecotourism policy, tourists could be made aware of ethical and cultural values involving the tourist destination regions so that the tourists can perform activities accordingly. However, the individual decision making is considered as a variable and would like to create constraint for sustainable tourism policy (Richards and Hall, 2012).  

Environmental:

Sustainable environmental practices are initiated to reduce the probable impact of the tourism business on the environment of a tourist destination. Persha et al. (2011) opined that an ecotourism policy aiming towards sustainable development would thrive to eliminate any possible damage to the regional flora and fauna along with natural resources such as soil, air and water. Adding to that an effective ecotourism policy would aim to address recovery strategy providing benefits to the regional ecology. Generally, tourism organisations following sustainable development approach, implement environmental impact assessment in order to minimise the negative impact of the tourism business on the environment (Hall et al. 2005).   

The sustainable economic, environmental and socio-cultural dimensions are compatible for the implementation of an ecotourism policy. Nash and Butler (2000) emphasised that practicing ecotourism business focusing on economic, environmental and socio-cultural development would provide a range of economic as well as non economic benefits not only to the environment and communities but also to the concerned tourism organisations. Such benefits can be in terms of improved business framework, reduction in operating cost, a credible marketing advantage and projecting the product (Swarbrooke, 2009).

Improved business process:

Critical evaluation of the ecotourism operations would enable tourism organisations to address the areas for improvements. These areas are needed to be focused to enhance the probability of sustainable tourism. Robinson (2009) pointed that ecotourism is based on a philosophy of continuous learning and improvement process on the basis of which sustainability index could be determined. Considering the recent trend in the tourism industry, tourism organisations following efficient business operations are likely to attract more customers and generate increased revenue.  

Reduction in operating cost:

The implementation of a sustainable ecotourism strategy would likely to reduce overall operating cost. Roberts and Tribe (2008) mentioned that responsible user of natural resources like water, energy, fuel etc would mean less expenditure on such elements and as a result tourism organisations would be able to account increased operating profit.

Experiencing a credible marketing advantage:

The number of ecotourism clients is on the rise considering the recent trend in the global tourism industry. Hence, it is high time for tourism organisations to stress on the ecotourism initiatives that could serve as a unique value proposition. However, Mair and Jago (2010) argued that focusing too much on a specific consumer group can create constraints for the business development process. Therefore, tourism organisations need to create a balance between the conventional tourism policy and the ecotourism policy which the later one can be used more often to boost the sustainability index.  

Protecting the product:

Hughes (2002) once cited that the implementation of ecotourism policy is easier that maintaining the level. Hence, tourism organisations need to deploy an effective tracking and monitoring mechanism so that the level of performance can be tracked. Although the process could introduce a certain degree of operational complexities but long term profitability can be experienced once organisations manage to maintain the desired standard of services.  

2.3 Assessment of the impact of tourism strategy on individual perception of sustainability and development:

Significant initiatives have been taken in order to integrate sustainable development elements and tourism development strategy in the private and public sector of U.K. In view towards the achievement of sustainability aspect in tourism the element of partnership with private, public and voluntary organisations have been developed in U.K. The intent to develop partnership is to communicate knowledge regarding sustainability and its importance in the tourism sector (McCool et al. 2001).

2.3.1 Essential factors for tourism sustainability promotion:

The factors that contribute towards the promotion of tourism sustainability are as follows-

Tourism development and planning: As opined by Ballantyne et al. (2011), the sustainability promotion regarding the tourism sector is mainly based on development of tourism plans. The tourism plans needs to cover sustainable destination planning and management. The sustainable destination planning involves framing of strategies and practices which provides balance between management and administration of the tourist destination spot Cardozo, 2006).

Good governance: In this regard, it can be pointed out that good governance and regulation helps for the development of public perception concerning the importance of sustainability in tourism sector. As stated by Berry and Ladkin (2007), good governance needs to make sure about the pursuit of style, type and level of tourism that contributes towards the development and nurturing of social, cultural, environmental and political sustainability of a destination.

Good marketing: The typical aspect of good marketing has got major influence in promoting sustainable tourism. As rightly pointed out by Bramwell and Lane (2003), marketing of products and services in the present day competitive environment serves the purpose of gaining popularity and success of different propositions. The promotion strategy of tourism both outside and inside the tourist destination helps to attract and influence appropriate stakeholders.

2.3.2 Actionable plans required for tourism sustainability development in Thomas Cook:

The organisation Thomas Cook might undertake following measures to ensure tourism sustainability-

Managing growth dynamics:

The near doubling of tourist numbers across worldwide locations is putting considerable pressures on resources which need to be managed by the organisation to avoid future problems. The company needs to involve in careful planning of the particular destination and the type of new development that is essential for improving environment management policies. The organisation needs to put thrust on managing coastal destinations for avoiding bad construction, managing waste effluents from resorts and cruise ships and maintenance of natural habitat as the overburden of tourists hampers the amenity of place (Coghlan and Gooch, 2011).

Climate change:

The factor of climate change needs special consideration from Thomas Cook as it has got direct impact on tourism. The rising sea levels, beach erosion, coral bleaching, disruption in water supply system needs to be looked and managed properly by the firm to ensure sustainability of tourism. The mountain resorts and hotels of the organisation need to be managed as the rising snow lines and shortening of winter season threatens the current position of mountain tourism (Choi and Chu, 2001). The company also needs to develop community and health services to avoid tropical diseases in order to enhance sustainability in tourism.

2.4 Initiatives of Thomas Cook towards a sustainable tourism policy:

Approximately 160 years ago, Thomas Cook developed the first ever packaged holiday tour considering the process as a social responsibility. Thomas Cook believed that providing educating the people with effective travel experience would enrich the culture and values of the societies as a result of which better lifestyle can be experienced. The innovating approach of the brand has been appreciated by several authors and scholars and Garrod and Fyall (2008) mentioned branded the business of Thomas Cook as a social business contributing for the benefits of the society. The philosophy of the brand has been intact in the modern day business as well which has ultimately haled making the brand one of the largest tourism organisations in the world. As per the enterprise, sustainable tourism is comprised of the principles like respecting regional cultures along with natural environment, contributing to the regional economies, responsible use of the natural resources, conserving endangered wildlife, preserving tourist destinations and performing responsible business activities.

2.4.1 Sustainability highlights concerning Thomas Cook in the year 2013:

In reference to the latest sustainability report, Thomas Cook has been focusing on a sustainable market place, trying to bring the best out of people, protecting the environment and supporting global communities.

Creating a sustainable marketplace:

Statistics suggest that Thomas Cook has been providing fully protected packaged holiday services to more than 15 million customers worldwide. As opined by Chan and Lam (2003), travellers would look for safety and security at the time of availing tourism packages and therefore tourism organisations need to integrate a certain degree of security in the service range to gain the trust of the customers. There has been 6% rise in hotel subscription under the brand compared to the previous year and currently more than 243 hotels have been subscribed under Thomas Cook. Considering the rating accounted from the user across UK, almost 92% of the customers rated the sustainable performance of Thomas cook as either good or excellent (http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org, 2014).

Bringing out the best among the people:

Almost 90% of the employees of Thomas Cook have been trained as per the criteria of the organisational Code of Conduct. Hence, the enterprise has been managed to create a specific level of awareness among the employees. Perhaps, that is the reason, 25 of the destinations covered by Thomas Cook got the Bronze Destinations of Excellent Award. Forsyth (2007) praised the approach of Thomas Cook by suggesting that the stakeholders associated with the brand are well aware of the respective roles and responsibilities and contributing to a successful business operation. More than 228 employees have spent approximately 1,444 hours in community development programs and 75% of the employees have been engaged in a group wide employee engagement survey (Thomascookgroup.com, 2014).

Protecting the environment:

Thomas Cook has measured significant initiatives to minimise the resource usage for the betterment of the environment. The brand has managed to restrict the usage of electricity up to 31% with the last three years (Fu and Parks, 2001). The airlines operated by the brand have recorded 70.9 g CO2 per passenger kilometre which is considered to be one of the most efficient figures. Adding to that, Thomas Cook reduced the total number of brochures with the virtual brochure promotion process, meaning a green product promotion policy. Due to such substantial performances Thomas Cook managed to obtain environmental management certificates across five different nations (Thomascookgroup.com, 2014).  

Supporting global communities:

The global community support initiatives have been initiated to for enhancing the social experience of the regional communities. Hamilton et al. (2005) acknowledged that responsible business practices would be incomplete without contribution in the regional communities. The charity program for children and the excursions conducted by the organisations are the two most popular initiatives measured by Thomas Cook within the last five years. Over £4 million has been raised through the Children’s Charity program since 2009 while more than 40 excursion projects have been initiated across 23 destinations to educate the societies through travelling experiences (Thomascookgroup.com, 2014).  

2.4.2 Integrating sustainability throughout the customer journey lifecycle:

Sustainable tourism is a fundamental aspect of the business of Thomas Cook. The brand prioritises sustainability as the heart f the business as highlighted in the above figure. Each of the stages of the customers’ journey is closely monitored making sure that customers get travel experience during each travel. A particular travel package starts from the dreaming and planning phase, followed by booking and departing. Accordingly customers arrive in the target destinations where the brand makes sure that perceived services are provided to the customers to provide ample experience. Finally, the customers return safely to home and Thomas Cook expect strong word-of-mouth activities from the customers through which the brand values could be promoted (Ekinci, 2007).

2.5 Summary:

Summarising the findings from the chapter, it can be assumed that sustainable tourism is possible conducting a responsible tourism practice approach. The environmental, socio-cultural and economical development of the travel regions lead to sustainable tourism practices. Eco-tourism is a viable option for the tourism organisations in order to achieve business sustainability. Considering the approach of Thomas Cook, the brand has been measuring quite a lot of sustainability approaches that have been found to be contributing to the success of the organisation and moving the organisations towards sustainability.  


Chapter 3

Research Methodology

 3.0 Overview to the Methodology:

The current chapter provides a brief on the exact paradigms that are opted for the current study in order effectively carry forward with the data collection and analysis process. As in order to maintain the research quality the need is to appropriately choose a specific philosophy and approach,  the researcher have detailed justification behind the choice of each paradigms.

3.1 Research Proposition:

In order to accumulate some in-depth knowledge on the subject of study, the researcher has opted for positivism philosophy, deductive research approach and descriptive design. Purposeful sampling has been used for sample selection. However, the primary data have been gathered from 50 tourists who frequently choose to book their travel to UK via Thomas Cook. In order to complete the study within time frame at the same time is able to accumulate considerable number of sustainable data on UK tourism data with specific reference to Thomas Cook, the researcher would opt solely quantitative data collection. However, to prevent any occasion of unacceptable behaviour in data collection, the researcher opted for the maintenance of ethical consideration.

3.2 Research Philosophy: Positivism

Brannen (2009) identified that positivism philosophy is scientific in nature and its support studies based on social and organizational realties. Unlike other philosophies, positivism considers factors such as consumer behaviour, motivation and decision making. As in the present context it is required to judge the impact of sustainable tourism on traveller’s decision making via Thomas Cook, positivism would best facilitate this approach. The current study is more concerned with studying a detailed research background, identify the sustainable tourism issues and finally recommend policies for its development. The choice of this specific research philosophy would help in furthering the researcher’s approach to study the objectives in detail.

3.3 Research Approach: Deductive

Cameron (2009) mentioned that contrary to inductive approach, deductive (also known as waterfall model) resumes from the studying the theory and finally confirming the same. As it is not required to develop any fresh theory, the researcher opted for deductive approach. Post framing the research questions in the introductory chapter, the researcher has accumulated both primary and secondary response to reflect on the essential of sustainable tourism in UK. By following deductive research approach, the author  have triangulated both the primary and secondary data to study the relation between eco-tourism and sustainability besides even perceiving how  tourism strategy has succeeded in promoting individual perceptions of tourism sustainability and development (thus fulfilling the objectives).

3.4 Research Design: Descriptive

Among the choice of research designs (exploratory, explanatory and descriptive), the researcher opted for descriptive design. Corner (2002) stated that descriptive design is used to attain information on the present status of events or objects. Thus, in order to evaluate the need for sustainable tourism, it’s possible impact on the travel decision making to UK, descriptive research design is the appropriate choice. The support of quantitative data by descriptive design, the researcher have even accumulated detailed travellers’ response on the development and sustainable tourism needs of Thomas Cook besides even offering suggestion on how their perceptions of tourism sustainability and development could be improved.

3.5 Quantitative data: Questionnaire survey method:

Johnson et al. (2007) determined that the figurative presentation of the quantitative data makes it suitable for the reader to easily grasp the research issues and derive possible analysis from the attained data. Considering the substantial number of sample, quantitative data is effective to accumulate larger number of data without the inclusion of much time and money. Although none of the data’s are detailed by nature, the researcher have still applied questionnaire survey technique as it is  accost effective approach wherein all respondents could answer similar questions which are standardized for the chosen sample.

3.6 Data Collection and Sampling:

Survey questionnaires have been the chosen data collection process. The researcher have conduced survey based on the questionnaires. However, the survey questionnaires have so been prepared so that the respondents do not face any difficulty in understanding the meaning of each question.  The choice of sample has been performed via online mode wherein the personal ids of the sample have been accumulated from online reviews given with regards to Thomas Cook. Questionnaires would be mailed to them.

Being a part of non-probability sampling, purposive sampling is economical by nature and helps in intensive study and arrives to accurate results (Miles and Huberman, 2006). Although the chosen sample might not represent the entire population, yet the chosen sample (who are basically the travellers who prefer booking travel through Thomas Cook) would have sound knowledge on the sustainability tourism measures of the company. Furthermore, they could surface any eco-tourism pitfall of Thomas Cook besides recommending exact ways in which Thomas Cook could maintain sustainable tourism.

3.7 Sample Choice:

As sample size bellow 35 could raise issues regards the appropriateness of data collection, the researcher opted to survey 50 tourists who have in the recent past booked their travel to UK via Thomas Cook. Considering that the choice of 50 respondents would not alter based on any situational factors, the researcher opted to send over the questionnaires to selected sample size.

3.8 Data Analysis Method:

Post returning the questionnaires via online mode, the researcher would be collecting it via MS Excel. However, for the purpose of depicting the collected response, the researcher would take help of tables and graphs. Percentages have been allotted to the responses base on which graphs have been formulated. Possible inference would even be drawn from the accumulated data represented in pictorial format.

3.9 Validity, Reliability and Ethical issues:

Morgan (2007) attributed the significance for any researcher to not follow any unacceptable behaviour while conducting any study. In order to carry forward the current study on ethical terms, the researcher have made sure to avoid falsification of data, erroneous result or taking undue privilege of the respondents to misinterpret the questions.

In order to maintain the reliability of the study, the researcher has made sure to use appropriate instruments for data gathering and analysis. Also no amount of tampering has been made with the data in order to keep up to its reliability. If desired, the researcher could even use similar instruments to judge the current result from different sample set.

 3.10 Limitations:

Non probability sampling does not represent the entire population thus the accumulated data might not be considered to be general and apt by nature. Also the researcher had not gathered any qualitative data that would have helped in in-depth data gathering on the current research subject.

 

Chapter 4

Findings 

4.0 Introduction:

The data collected from the chosen sample of the study have been represented via graphs and tables in the current chapter. Percentages have been allotted to each of the responses, based on which the researcher have illustrated the data via the chosen approach. However, the analysis and discussion from the illustrated data have been detailed in the following chapters.

4.1 Quantitative data:

  1. Does your chosen travel firm follow sustainable tourism?

Table 1: Choice for sustainable tourism by Thomas Cook

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Yes 41 50 82%
No 7 50 14%
Neutral 2 50 4%

 

  1. Are you content with the sustainable tourism policies followed by Thomas Cook?

Table 2: Satisfaction level from tourism polices of Thomas Cook

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Strongly Satisfied 18 50 36%
Satisfied 23 50 46%
Neutral 2 50 4%
Dissatisfied 4 50 8%
Strongly Dissatisfied 3 50 6%
  1. Rate the sustainable tourism features currently practiced by Thomas Cook for impacting your travel decision making to UK.

Table 3: Current sustainable practice of Thomas Cook

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Creation of a sustainable marketplace 12 50 24%
Staff training to maintain desired Code of Conduct 13 50 26%
Environment protection schemes 15 50 30%
Take support from the global communities 10 50 20%

 

  1. How do you think that Thomas Cook could build its sustainability tourism measures for ensuring improved tourist traffic to UK?

Table 4: Sustainable tourism measures for Thomas Cook

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Optimal utilization of available resources 13 50 26%
Visitors fulfillment 8 50 16%
Offer of post sales support 12 50 24%
Quality services 10 50 20%
Economic viability 7 50 14%

 

  1. Will the follow of even better sustainable policy measures (mentioned above) drive your intentions to visit UK via booking done by Thomas Cook?

Table 5: Intention to visit UK via Thomas Cook by the follow of sustainable policy measures

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Yes 40 50 80%
No 8 50 16%
Neutral 2 50 4%

 

  1. Are you aware of the direct relationship between eco-tourism and sustainability aspect of organization?

Table 6: Direct relation between eco-tourism and sustainability

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Yes 37 50 74%
No 9 50 18%
Neutral 4 50 8%

 

  1. Do you think that a travel firm could be sure of periodic revenue generation by the practice of sustainable tourism, practice?

Table 7: Revenue generation via sustainable tourism practice

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Strongly agree 20 50 40%
Agree                18 50 36%
Neutral 2 50 4%
Disagree 5 50 10%
Strongly disagree 5 50 10%

 

  1. Do you agree that a travel firm can ensure its sustainability by making the vacationer aware of the practice of safeguarding rule associated with natural and cultural heritage?

Table 8: Ensuring sustainability by safeguard of natural and cultural heritage

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Strongly agree 13 50 26%
Agree                20 50 40%
Neutral 5 50 10%
Disagree 8 50 16%
Strongly disagree 4 50 8%

 

  1. Follow of ethical and cultural values by a specific travel firm could drive your travel decision making to a specific country by the particular travel firm. Comment

Table 9: Significance of the follow of ethical and cultural values

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Strongly agree 14 50 28%
Agree                26 50 52%
Neutral 2 50 4%
Disagree 6 50 12%
Strongly disagree 2 50 4%

 

  1. Do you think that community development (as a part of eco-tourism) would motivate you to visit the particular place via a preferred travel organization?

Table 10: Need for community development for travel decision making

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Strongly agree 13 50 26%
Agree                24 50 48%
Neutral 1 50 2%
Disagree 8 50 16%
Strongly disagree 4 50 8%
  1. Rate the specific action plans needed for tourism sustainability in Thomas Cook?

Table 11: Specific action plans for Thomas Cook

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Integrating sustainability tourism during customer’s journey 13 50 26%
Support global communities 12 50 24%
Protect the environment 11 50 22%
Offer a sustainable marketplace 8 50 16%
Staff development 6 50 12%

 

  1. Are you of the opinion that sustainable tourism strategy would help in promoting consumer’s perception regards a specific place to travel by a certain travel brand?

Table 12: Promote consumer’s perception via sustainable tourism

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Strongly agree 13 50 26%
Agree                23 50 46%
Neutral 1 50 2%
Disagree 6 50 12%
Strongly disagree 7 50 14%

 

Chapter 5

Analysis of data

5.0 Introduction:

The chapter deals with the analysis of the data derived from the survey conducted by the researcher. Here, the data has been interpreted according to the result represented in the previous chapter. Key aim of this chapter is to serve a clear understanding about the result that a critical discussion could be performed in the next chapter.

5.1 Quantitative data analysis:

Q1: Analysis:

According to the respondents, Thomas Cook strictly follows the sustainable tourism as most of the clients has opined in favour of the firm. Therefore, respondents have already experienced about such sustainable tourism operation while using the service for travelling. Fewer people have opined against the statement whereas 4% liked to have no comment regarding this issue.

Q2: Analysis:

Referring to the outcomes, most of the clients are happy and satisfied with the services offered by the company at the time of travelling. Therefore, no such problem this portion of the respondents have faced while availing the services provided. On the other hand, 14% have dissatisfied with the policies followed by the organisation.

Q3: Analysis:

In reference to the findings, customers of Thomas Cook opted for a number of options that promotes the sustainable tourism practices of Thomas Cook. 24% of the customers mentioned of creating sustainable marketplace. 26% of the customers highlighted the practice of well trained staffs while 30% of the customers pointed environmental protection schemes and finally 20% of the customers discussed support taken from global communities.

Q4: Analysis:

Majority of the customers (26%) recommended optimal utilisation of available resources followed by effective post sales service (24%) so that sustainable tourism process can be promoted. On the other hand, customers also voted for policies such as visitors’ fulfilment, quality services and economic viability to practice sustainable tourism.

Q5: Analysis:

Considering the sustainable policies highlighted in the previous questions, the respondents are agreed that even better tourism policies would encourage the respondents more towards visiting UK by booking a tour package online using the services of Thomas Cook (almost 80% of the respondents voted in the favour).

Q6: Analysis:

Majority of the customers of Thomas Cook are found to be aware of the eco-tourism and sustainability approaches of the organisation as 74% of the respondents provided positive responses. On the other hand, 18% of the respondents disagreed with the fact while 8% were found to be neutral.

Q7: Analysis:

A significant number of customers (76% approximately) of Thomas Cook agreed with the fact that the organisation can expect periodic revenue generation through practicing the adopted sustainable tourism policies. On the contrary, almost 20% respondents disagreed with the fact and 4% of the respondents failed to provide precise responses.

Q8: Analysis:

Majority of the respondents (66% roughly) believe that making the customers aware of the safeguarding policies relating to natural and cultural heritage of tourist places could promote a sustainable tourism policy. However, 24% of the respondents disagreed with the fact while 10% were unsure about the fact.

Q9: Analysis:

28% of the customers strongly agreed with the fact that the travelling decision can be influenced in the travel agent provide information regarding ethical and cultural values of a specific tourist destination and overall 80% of the respondents provided positive responses. Almost 16% of the respondents did not agree with the fact and 4% were found to be unsure. 

Q10: Analysis:

Initiatives such as community development as a part of eco-tourism would motivate the customers to contribute towards the organisational sustainable tourism policies. Almost 74% of the respondents provided positive responses while 24% of the customers were not convinced with the fact.

Q11: Analysis:

Customers of Thomas Cook acknowledged a range of action plans that could be useful for the organisation in practising sustainable tourism. Customers responded strategic options such as integrating sustainability during travel, supporting global communities, protecting environment, offering sustainable marketplace and staff development could be focused by Thomas Cook so that sustainable tourism practice can be promoted.

Q12: Analysis:

Customers of Thomas Cook agreed with the fact that a sustainable tourism policy of the organisation would help experiencing positive customer satisfaction and promote customers’ perception along with the brand values. Overall 72% of the customers are found to be convinced with the fact while combined 26% provided contradictory opinions.

 

Chapter 6

Discussion and Interpretation of Findings

 6.0 Introduction:

From the findings, the researcher has discussed the possible inference on the current research subject in the current chapter. However, in order to relate both the primary and secondary responses, the researcher has even triangulated the findings while discussing the collected data.

6.1 Discussion and Interpretation:

Q1: Discussion and Interpretation:

Although few customers had disagreed on the sustainable tourism policy followed by Thomas Cook, it could be inferred that Thomas Cook does follow sustainable travel policy to ensure inflow of added tourist traffic to the country. As mentioned in 2.4 by Garrod and Fyall (2008), several of sustainable tourism policy followed by Thomas Cook involves: creating a sustainable marketplace, protection of environment and ensure community development.

Q2: Discussion and Interpretation:

Besides the very few number of travellers who were dissatisfied with the tourism polices adapted by Thomas Cook, most of its clients seem to content with their current activity. From section 2.4.1, it could be concluded that the sustainable tourism policies have driven the satisfaction level of 15 million worldwide customers (Chan and Lam, 2003). However, the company is yet to follow even better sustainable policy and increase its customer base to greater level.

Q3: Discussion and Interpretation:

Thomas Cook follows several sustainable practices such as: development of sustainable marketplace, staff training, environment protection and support from the local communities (also referred in 2.4.1 by Forsyth, 2007). However, among the several policies that are followed, the business relies heavily on the environment protection schemes. The environment protection schemes are helpful for the business to pull its global travellers into the country (UK).

Q4: Discussion and Interpretation:

From the responses gained from majority of the respondents, it could be inferred that Thomas Cook could build its sustainability tourism measures by the follow of optimal utilization of available resources. However, the specific travel firm is even requires to ensure visitors fulfilment, offer post sales support; quality services and economic viability (refer to 2.1 by Aall, 2011).

Q5: Discussion and Interpretation:

From the accumulated response, it could be stated that the travellers seem to be inclined towards to visit UK via Thomas Cook on condition of following even better sustainable tourism policies. As have been stated in (2.1.3 by May, 2001), the travellers often prefer their chosen travel firm to opt for sustainable tourism measures in order to be able to experience optimum mix of service elements during travel.

Q6: Discussion and Interpretation:

Thomas Cook has managed to make the customers aware of the eco-tourism aspect so that a sustainable tourism policy can be maintained. It seems the organisation has successfully focused on economic, social and environmental aspects that are required for a sustainable tourism policy (as stated by Chancellor et al. 2011, section 2.2). By letting the customers gaining knowledge about the eco tourism Thomas Cook has been thriving towards a sustainable tourism policy.

Q7: Discussion and Interpretation:

The positive responses from the customers establish the fact that a sustainable tourism policy is likely to enable travel organisations to experience greater periodic revenue generation. The fact can also be supported by the proposition of Allen et al. (2008) as the author mentioned that sustainable tourism would let travel organisations to experience greater return on investment (refer to section 2.2 in chapter 2).

Q8: Discussion and Interpretation:

The positive responses from the customers suggest that tourism sustainability can be ensured by making the customers aware of the safeguarding of natural and cultural heritage. As mentioned by Brougham and Butler (2001), a sustainable tourism policy would prioritise the cultural and social heritage of the regional communities relating to the tourist destinations (refer to section 2.2 in chapter 2).

Q9: Discussion and Interpretation:

Thomas Cook can expect more number of customers if the ethical and cultural values regarding the tourist destinations are being promoted along with the range of services. In the words of Littlefair and Buckley (2008), organisations operating in the tourism industry need to focus on the social equity relating to tourist destinations so that a sustainable tourism policy could be promoted (refer to section 2.1.2 in chapter 2). It seems the customers of Thomas Cook expect the organisation to promote the cultural and ethical values incor4porating the target destinations.

Q10: Discussion and Interpretation:

Customers would be encouraged to avail the services of a particular travel organisation if the brand promotes community development as a part of eco-tourism. It is assumed that the customers of Thomas Cook appreciate the initiatives of the brand regarding eco-tourism and are likely to consider the brand image during booking a tour package (refer to section 2.4.2 in chapter 2).

Q11: Discussion and Interpretation:

Thomas Cook can focus on actions plans like integrating sustainability during customers’ journey, supporting global communities, protecting environment, offering sustainable marketplace and developing the organisational workforce. The brand has already developed a sustainable framework ensuring customer satisfaction during the journeys (refer to section 2.4.2 in chapter 2). However, aspects such as supporting global communities and continuous staff development are needed to be focused more to ensure sustainable business.  

Q12: Discussion and Interpretation:

Tourists are likely to contribute to an improved word of mouth mechanism if a travel organisation manages to achieve sustainable tourism policies. Considering the case of Thomas Cook, it seems the organisation has been thriving towards tourism sustainability. As highlighted by Forsyth (2007), Thomas Cook has been a standout performer in the UK tourism industry (refer to section 2.4.1 in chapter 2). The positive brand image is likely to encourage the tourists and accordingly an improved word of mouth process can be expected by the organisation.

 

Chapter 7

Conclusion and Recommendations

 7.0 Introduction:

The chapter provides a conclusion for the entire research work by highlighting the findings from the overall study. On the outset, the chapter attempts to link the research findings with the research objectives. By doing so, the relevancy and accuracy of the research study can be measured. In the due course of the chapter, a range of recommendations have been depicted for Thomas Cook that could help the organisation easing the integration of a sustainable tourism policy. Finally, the chapter highlights some limitations that have been experienced by the researcher during conducting the study and the chapter ends up with promoting the future scope for the research work.

7.1 Linking the research findings with research objectives:

Objective 1: To investigate the areas where organisation needs to control for development and maintenance of sustainable tourism.

Thomas Cook has been following a range of policies in order to make the tourism business sustainable in the long run while there are some areas that are needed to be controlled for development. In reference to the findings from Question 2 (in section 4.1, chapter 4), almost 14% of the customers are not quite aware of whether Thomas Cook has been following sustainable tourism approach. Findings from Question 3 (refer to section 4.1 in chapter 4) suggest that the brand has been following initiatives like creation of sustainable marketplace, staff training, environment protection and taking support from various global communities in order to ensure a sustainable tourism policy. Similar findings have also been referred by Forsyth (2007) that has been mentioned in section 2.4.1 in chapter 2. However, it seems the brand needs to focus more on taking support from global communities while making the stakeholders more aware of the environment friendly tourism practices. Considering the findings from Question 4 (refer to section 4.1 in chapter 4), Thomas Cook can focus on optimal utilisation of available resources, visitors fulfilment, improved post sales services, improved quality of existing service ranges and economic viability so that sustainable tourism practice can be ensured. Aall (2011) supported the findings by proposing that tourism organisations can prioritise continuous improvement in terms of quality of services and tourist satisfaction in order to experience sustainable tourism practices (refer to section 2.1 in chapter 2). Thus, assessing such findings it can be assumed that Thomas Cook has been following some effective strategic approaches to experience a sustainable business while there are still some areas for improvement as highlighted that are needed to be focused to ensure sustainable tourism.  

Objective 2: To identify the relationship between eco-tourism and sustainability aspect of the organisation.

Findings from the research study suggest that there exists a particular relationship between eco-tourism and business sustainability. In reference to the findings from Question 6 (refer to section 4.1 in chapter 4), majority of the customers of Thomas Cook are found to be aware of the linkage between eco-tourism and tourism sustainability. Therefore, it can be concluded that eco-tourism practices would not only help developing sustainable tourism policies but also would promote a positive brand image to the target audience. Chancellor et al. (2011) cited that tourism organisations need to focus on economic, social and environmental aspects in so that sustainable tourism policy can be ensured (refer to section 2.2 in chapter 2) and it seems Thomas Cook has been successful to some extent in addressing the factors. Findings from Question 7 (refer to section 4.1 ion chapter 4) highlight the fact that increased periodic revenue can be experienced following sustainable tourism policy focused on eco-tourism policy. As mentioned by Allen et al. (2008), a sustainable tourism policy would enhance the return on investment scenario concerning the tourism organisations (refer to section 2.2 in chapter 2). In addition to that, tourism organisations can make the customers aware of the natural and cultural heritage concerning a particular tourist destination in order to promote a sustainable tourism policy (refer to Question 8 in section 4.1, chapter 4). The fact can be established with reference to the proposition of Brougham and Butler (2001) as the author mentioned that a sustainable tourism policy would emphasis on the social and cultural aspects relating to a tourism destination (refer to section 2.2 in chapter 2). On the other hand, findings from Question 9 (refer to section 4.1 in chapter 4) imply that letting the customers know about the ethical and cultural values involving tourist destinations could influence the travelling decision making of the tourists. Similar findings can be found in the proposition of Littlefair and Buckley (2008) as the author cited that tourism organisations can promote the ethical and cultural values to the target audiences as the process could influence the buying decision making of the customers. Summarising the findings, it is understood that there has been a proportionate relationship between eco-tourism and sustainability with effective eco-tourism approach could lead to sustainable tourism practices. 

Objective 3: To assess how tourism strategy has succeeded in promoting individual perceptions of tourism sustainability and development.

The promotion of tourists’ perception could contribute towards a sustainable tourism practice and development performed by a particular tourist destination. Considering the findings from Question 12 (refer to section 4.1, chapter 4), customers of Thomas Cook are agreed with the fact that individual perception could be promoted should the organisation manage to follow a sustainable tourism policy. As per the opinion of Forsyth (2007), Thomas Cook has managed to follow sustainable tourism policy to some extent (refer to section 2.4.1 in chapter 2) and therefore there is every possibility of experiencing positive responses from the customers. Addressing the findings from Question 11 (refer to section 4.1, chapter 4), customers of Thomas Cook expect the brand to focus on aspects like supporting global communities, staff development and protecting environment so that better individual perception can be promoted. In reference to the findings from section 2.4.2 in chapter 2, the brand has already followed a sustainable tourism framework for assuring satisfaction during the journeys. As a consequence, positive feedback from the customers have been acquired which have been contributing to the sustainable tourism policies of the organisation.

7.2 Recommendation:

Thomas Cook is an online travel management company which helps the travellers to book international holiday packages, hotels, flights. So many innovative approaches are taken by Thomas Cook towards sustainable tourism policy, still some platforms needs to be improved.

Energy consumption and water waste:

Normally tourism sector tends to have high level of energy consumption. Heating and cooling is the main source of consumption, luxury services such as spa, heated pool, golf or laundry services all increase energy bills. Extra amenities when combined with changes in consumer pattern new hotels consumes twice as much energy as the average hotel. The same trends can be observed in tap water consumption levels.

Job creation and its contribution to local economy:

Tourism industry is heterogeneous and segmented, encompassing catering, hotels and resorts and travel services. The leisure industry is a major source of income for many emerging and developed countries. It represents more than 9% of global GDP. The stability of partnership with local authorities is often a key factor. Thomas cook can provide opportunities to local residents which will affect positively the local economy.  It is the responsibility of the company to give the staff proper working condition, benefits and wages, full time contract to improve a local economy to gain trust of the local customers and retain a good base of customers in future. Furthermore, if the company takes staff from local area where it is going to start the business, it will result in a high turnover rate in profit due to the overall knowledge of locality of the employees. The employees will give some extraordinary effort to retain good customers resulting in business growth of the company as well as growth of the local economy also.

Proper interpretation:

Interpretation plays a major role in promoting a sustainable tourism. Unless and until a company is able to interpret either quantitatively or qualitatively, it cannot get a complete understanding regarding what is happening and what is lacking. In fact it is to be determined that which nationality visits most and cater specifically for them. Fundamentally interpretation is useful to improve the quality of the experience of visitors. Proper interpretation can be used as a management tool, because many tourists do not know the correct behaviour but want to do the right thing. Interpretation can be used as good PR tool which ensures that tourists receive something of value for money.

E-security:

Security is used to be exclusively linked to clients’ physical protection. New technologies are responsible for introducing new forms of breaches. Many customers go for online transaction to avoid hazards and wastage of time. It is the duty of the company to protect clients’ confidential data. A major data leak can have devastating effects on reputation and it will get negative impact on company’s balance sheet.

7.3 Limitations of the study:

In the above study the sample size was 50, but more than 50 samples is required to do compact research. Furthermore the research was based on only quantitative analysis; no scope was there for qualitative study. Qualitative study is essential to do the research perfectly. Both parameters are required quantitative and qualitative analysis to get greater impact of the study. Again, in the given study it is taken into consideration that the online booking system was used by the customer of Thomas Cook only. According to the study it is not clear that the online booking is being done by only the customers of Thomas Cook.

7.4 Future scope of the study:

The study is based on only UK oriented travel industry. Industry consideration related to various geographic regions could be a scope for this study. The study could be more strength full if some other company is being taken into consideration with the Thomas Cook, that means a comparative study between Thomas Cook and other company could be a greater scope.  As per now, no general sustainability study has been made for tourism sector. So a fixed sustainable approach can be a scope of future study. Furthermore a set of questionnaire can be asked to the employees of Thomas Cook itself to know the sustainable policy of the firm which can be implemented in the study of sustainability factors.

 

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Appendix:

Exhibit 1: Survey questionnaire for the customers of Thomas Cook

 

Name:

Age:

  1. Does your chosen travel firm follow sustainable tourism?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Neutral
  1. Are you content with the sustainable tourism policies followed by Thomas Cook?
  • Strongly Satisfied
  • Satisfied
  • Neutral
  • Dissatisfied
  • Strongly Dissatisfied
  1. Rate the sustainable tourism features currently practiced by Thomas Cook for impacting your travel decision making to UK.
  • Creation of a sustainable marketplace
  • Staff training to maintain desired Code of Conduct
  • Environment protection schemes
  • Take support from the global communities
  1. How do you think that Thomas Cook could build its sustainability tourism measures for ensuring improved tourist traffic to UK?
  • Optimal utilization of available resources
  • Visitors fulfillment
  • Offer of post sales support
  • Quality services
  • Economic viability
  1. Will the follow of even better sustainable policy measures (mentioned above) drive your intentions to visit UK via booking done by Thomas Cook?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Neutral
  1. Are you aware of the direct relationship between eco-tourism and sustainability aspect of organization?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Neutral
  1. Do you think that a travel firm could be sure of periodic revenue generation by the practice of sustainable tourism, practice?
  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Neutral
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  1. Do you agree that a travel firm can ensure its sustainability by making the vacationer aware of the practice of safeguarding rule associated with natural and cultural heritage?
  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Neutral
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  1. Follow of ethical and cultural values by a specific travel firm could drive your travel decision making to a specific country by the particular travel firm. Comment
  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Neutral
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  1. Do you think that community development (as a part of eco-tourism) would motivate you to visit the particular place via a preferred travel organization?
  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Neutral
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  1. Rate the specific action plans needed for tourism sustainability in Thomas Cook?
  • Integrating sustainability tourism during customer’s journey
  • Support global communities
  • Protect the environment
  • Offer a sustainable marketplace
  • Staff development
  1. Are you of the opinion that sustainable tourism strategy would help in promoting consumer’s perception regards a specific place to travel by a certain travel brand?
  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Neutral
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree

Exhibit 2: A reflection on the research work

The research study analyses the sustainability tourism factors considering the case of UK tourism industry and Thomas Cook has been the chosen organisation for the research. Although the research study has been a part of the curriculum, I have tried to conduct the study in a professional perspective so that the experience from the research study could enhance my decision making skills during my professional career. However, like any other research work, the current study might not be error free and there are likely to be instances where the outcomes might not be relevant to the actual scenario. Therefore, I attempt to reflect my own work so that the level of personal learning from the research work can be determined.

On the outset, I would like to highlight the benefits I obtained from conducting the research work. The chosen topic that is sustainability tourism of Thomas Cook was itself a good prospect as I had little knowledge in such domain. Hence, conducting the study has let me gain a significant knowledge in the tourism domain and the real time practice of leading organisations like Thomas Cook. By evaluating a wide range of literatures I have gained sufficient knowledge regarding tourism theories while quantitative data analysis has helped me connecting the academic theories to real time practices. Finally, I have managed to assess the critical success factor of the sustainability tourism practices of Thomas Cook and provided recommendations accordingly that reflects my improved decision making ability.

Taking into consideration the challenges faced during conducting the study, one of the major challenges was to complete the dissertation within the specified timeframe. However, I managed to complete the primary and secondary research quite early and that has helped completing the study within the quoted time frame. Such experience can help me completing tasks within stringent deadline during my professional career. Another challenges faced during the study was to convince the customers of Thomas Cook to participate in the survey questionnaire process. Ultimately, I managed to convince 50 customers to participate in the survey process which became the sample size.

If I need to conduct the entire dissertation again, I would like to focus on a mixed method research methodology comprising of quantitative as well as qualitative research. Furthermore, the sample size is needed to be increased for better accuracy. I would like to conduct a survey questionnaire approach engaging the employees of Thomas Cook while some of the managers could be approached to participate in the face-to-face interview sessions so that qualitative data could be collected. Furthermore, if I need to conduct the study again I would like to perform a comparative study comparing the sustainable practices of Thomas Cook with one of its competitors.

When it comes to developing new skills and nurturing existing skill set, I have managed to improve myself to a desired extent. During conducting the literature review segment, I have tried to focus on critical review technique in order to extract precise information from a range of literatures. Apart from that, I have managed to enhance my interpretation skills during data analysis as I successfully converted the responses of the customers of Thomas Cook into numerical format. Finally, the overall formatting and documentation of the research study has improved my presentation skill to a significant extent.

The conduction of secondary and primary research has lead to some crucial personal and professional gains during the study. From the personal gaining perspective, I have come to know a wide range of aspects involving sustainable tourism practices. The combination of primary and secondary research has helped me gaining theoretical knowledge regarding tourism business and such practices in contemporary business environment. From a professional perspective, the case analysis of Thomas Cook has helped gaining idea of the real time sustainable practices of tourism organisations. The experience from the research study could influence me to consider a career in the tourism industry in future.

The lessons learnt from the study can turn out to be beneficial for my career in a lot of aspects. Although the research study has been developed in order to proceed with the academic purposes, real time business environment analysis has enabled me to play the role of a professional and such initiatives could turn out to be useful during my professional career. I even consider a profession in the field of tourism sector and Thomas Cook would be my preferred option in such context. The rigorous analytical and interpretation skills that I have managed to gain during the research study have improved my decision making ability which would be beneficial during my professional career.

If further opportunities have been provided to me I would consider conducting a research study regarding tourism sustainability index of a competitor of Thomas Cook and the findings could lead to assess the ability of Thomas Cook in maintaining competency in the tourism sector. The current research study encompasses the existing sustainable tourism practices of Thomas Cook and assesses what further strategies could be followed by the organisation to ease the emergence of stainable tourism. However, a comparative study considering Thomas Cook and one of its rival organisations could help focusing more appropriate strategies that could be more compatible for a sustainable tourism practice.

Finally, I would like to conclude that the current research study has enabled me to bridge the gap between theoretical and practical knowledge. Although considering more population for quantitative data analysis could lead to more accurate findings but the current findings also shed light on various aspects of sustainable tourism practices of Thomas Cook. The inclusion of a qualitative research could have been better but due to lack of availability of the managers of Thomas Cook such process could not be initiated. Despite all the challenges faced, the research study still promotes a wide range of learning outcomes that are bound to be useful for my academic careers as well as the professional career in the coming years.

 

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