Maria Ek Styvén, associate professor, Luleå University of Technology
What is the research project about?
“We will investigate how the younger generations Y and Z look on environmentally sustainable travel and how this influences their choice. Young travellers are crucial for the future of tourism, both because of the fact that there are many of them and also because their choices can lead to new attitudes in respect of tourism. We want to know more about their attitudes to various aspects of environmental sustainability, both before they travel when they are choosing a destination and their means of getting there and when they are actually there. What sort of choices do they make if the methods of sustainable transport are much more expensive? Once at their destination, do they choose activities based on their sustainability? We are also interested in knowing more about how they communicate and how they spread information about their trip, on social media for example.”
What will you do?
“We will be undertaking internet surveys, both in Sweden and abroad. Our aim is to reach 2,000 people, which is statistically a sufficient basis on which to carry out analyses both in respect of the whole group and across different age groups. The youngest, up to the age of 15 in the target group, and where we need parental approval, are interviewed by ourselves. As part of the study we will be studying behaviour, amongst other things, through so-called eye-tracking. In a laboratory setting, we follow eye movements and facial expressions when a person looks at a computer screen where we get information on which images and messages attract their attention, what particularly catches their eye and what they react to.”
How can an enterprise in the hospitality sector benefit from the research?
“There are ambitions in the hospitality sector to make Sweden the World’s most sustainable destination. We need to work on environmentally sustainable tourism, for the sake of the future for all of us, and to do this we need knowledge, not least in respect of future travellers. Our hope is that the results can help prepare destinations and companies before meeting these younger generations thereby reinforcing Sweden as an attractive proposition in the hospitality business. Our aim is to produce proposals on how environmental sustainability can be communicated to reach these consumers, both at national and international level.”
What are your greatest challenges?
“The greatest challenge definitely lies in trying to find out what young peoples’ attitudes are as we will need to devote some time in getting hold of young people who are willing to take part. But I believe this is where we can get some useful help from the participants in our reference group.”
About the researchers
The project is headed by Maria Ek Styvén, assistant professor, industrial marketing. The group includes Åsa Wallström, professor, industrial marketing, Kerry Chipp, university lecturer, industrial marketing (from autumn 2020) and PhD.
In the reference group there are representatives from: Explore the North, Galären, Luleå Upper-secondary College, Hotell- och turismprogrammet, Naturturismföretagen (Nature tourism enterprises), the Swedish Lapland Visitors Board, Treehotel and Luleå Business Region.
Generations Y and Z
Generation Y, also known as the millennials, comprises people born between early the 1980s until the middle of the 1990s. Generation Z comprises people born between 1995-2014.
Watch the interview with Maria Ek Styvén talking about the project on SVT here, in Swedish only.