WIT Press

Motivations For Sustainability Engagement Among Small Tourism Enterprises


Free (open access)





Page Range

895 - 904




348 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


B. Tomasella


This qualitative research was carried out in Ireland during the summer of 2010. It investigated how to support small and medium tourism enterprises (STEs) in engaging in more sustainability practices. The research qualitatively explored the uptake of sustainability practices among STEs in Ireland, where the research sample and case studies are located; moreover, it aims to explore the effectiveness of sustainability learning tools on the uptake of sustainability practices among STEs, especially in the marketing area. It emerged that internal factors to the enterprise – like goal orientation, locus of control and self-efficacy – are more linked to higher level of sustainability engagement, than external factors to the company; also management skills and sustainability learning are mediating factors influencing higher levels of sustainability engagement. The findings confirmed the importance of networking and ongoing education, as well as highlighting the lack of actions so far taken by governments and agencies to stimulate small companies to incorporate sustainability into their operational practices. While it is evident that the tourism sector is primarily made up of small actors, the actions undertaken to support the growth of sustainable tourism have been limited to promoting information only related to the environmental area and highlighting the cost-saving factor. Sustainability learning for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), especially forms of learning which guarantee reflection and action through learning by doing, are very effective forms of learning; it’s also easier to maintain a higher motivation to learning in the long term through implementing network learning, as well as offering some form of mentoring. The overall research uncovered the necessity for policy makers and planners to focus on activities and policies which promote the growth of human factors, the most crucial in motivating companies to further engage in sustainability; it is when managers personally engage in sustainability as a valuable tool, that they will engage in ongoing sustainability learning: when that happens, the company will engage in sustainability practises in the long term.


small tourism businesses, sustainability practises, sustainability learning, tourism networking groups, entrepreneurship, learning by doing, selfefficacy