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Energy and water demand management in the tourism accommodation industry : evidence from South Africa

Idahosa, Love Ahuevbonmwan Odion (2017-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : The thesis explores the issue of Resource Management (RM) within the context of Environmental Sustainability (ES) in the Tourism Accommodation Industry (TAI) in South Africa. Focusing on demand side management of energy and water resources, it aims to understand the context of resource use in the TAI with the aim of influencing consumption towards more sustainable levels. The South African focus is motivated by the energy and water crisis in the country combined with growth in the tourism sector and international tourist arrivals, and the implications of this growth for the already strained energy and water resources in the country. The thesis document is composed of five separate but thematically connected papers which focus on understanding and addressing resource consumption issues in South Africa’s TAI. Each paper employs its own framework, data, and method to arrive at conclusions that support the objective of the thesis. The first paper demonstrates, using qualitative content analysis of semi-structured interviews, that the operators of Tourism Accommodation Establishments (TAEs) have an adequate understanding of the meaning and applicability of the ES concept to their industry. Although they were correctly able to associate ES to RM for their industry context, findings reveal that the adoption of RM initiatives were low, and at best basic. The next two papers, employing the same method as the first, investigate this low adoption rate by evaluating the motivation for, and barriers to, adopting ES practices in the industry. Paper two (Chapter 3) finds that TAE operators are motivated by the potential to improve their comparative advantage, and a desire to preserve the environment. Paper three (Chapter 4) however reveals that they are deterred from doing all they can by the high initial capital outlay and running cost of most ES initiatives, which these businesses cannot immediately afford despite the potential cost saving the initiatives offer. It also reveals that the service nature of the industry, which prioritises guests’ comfort over environmental concerns, was the most debilitating challenge to implementing ES in the establishments. The fourth paper (Chapter 5) makes use of quantitative data to investigate the key drivers of energy consumption in establishments in the industry. The findings of this paper suggest that establishments’ characteristics (such as size) and facilities offered (e.g. restaurant) drive energy consumption up in the industry. Combined with the findings from previous papers and extant studies, it shows that Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) is most likely the largest direct driver of energy consumption in TAEs. Building on the findings of the previous papers, the final paper (Chapter 6) demonstrates, within the framework of a randomised control trial, that thermal comfort is largely socially constructed, by evaluating the effectiveness of social normative messages in influencing the thermostat setting behaviour of hotel guests towards more sustainable levels. This finding is significant for TAEs who struggle with balancing guests’ comfort with the current unsustainable trend in HVAC consumption. This thesis hence provides new context and information on the South African TAI, and proffers and tests a solution to one of the most debilitating challenges faced in ES adoption in the industry. These findings are relevant for academic instruction in the field of Sustainable Tourism, for practitioners and decision makers within the industry, as well as for policy makers in the public sphere. The bottom up approach adopted (which focuses first on understanding the industry’s context before proffering solutions) has generated empirical evidence that challenge both conventional wisdom and existing theories in terms of Demand Side Management of Energy and Water Resources, and the position of the private sector, especially in the tourism accommodation industry, on their role in the sustainability movement. This method is also applicable to other private sector scenarios, and if adopted would provide valuable insights that could stimulate the private sector engagement in socio-environmental issues.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Die tesis ondersoek die kwessie van Hulpbron Bestuur (HB) binne die konteks van Omgewingsvolhoubaarheid (OV) in die Toerisme Akkomodasie Bedryf (TAB) in Suid Afrika. Dit streef daartoe om die konteks te verstaan van die gebruik van hulpbronne in die TAB met die doel om gebruik te beïnvloed in die rigting van meer volhoubare vlakke deur te fokus op aanvraag bestuur van energie- en waterbronne. Die Suid Afrikaanse fokus word gemotiveer deur die energie en water krisisse in die land in kombinasie met die groei in die toerisme sektor sowel as in die aankoms van internasionale toeriste en die implikasies van hierdie groei op die reeds ooreiste energie- en waterbonne in die land. Die tesis bestaan uit vyf aparte maar tematies verbinte dokumente wat fokus op die verstaan en die aanspraak tot bronbenuttingskwessies in Suid Afrika se TAB. Elke dokument het sy eie raamwerk, data en metodiek wat lei tot gevolgtrekkinge wat die doelwit van die tesis ondersteun. Die eerste dokument gebruik kwantitatiewe analise van die inhoud van semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude om te demonstreer dat die ondernemers van Toeriste Akkomodasie Vestinge (TAVs) ‘n genoegsame insig het tot die betekenis en aanpassing van die OV konsep sover dit hulle industrie betref. Alhoewel hulle OV korrek assosieer met HB binne die konteks van hul industrie, het bevindings bewys dat die opname van HB inisiatiewe laag was en wel op sy beste basies. Die volgende 2 dokumente wat dieselfde metode gebruik as die eerste, ondersoek dan hierdie lae opname deur die evaluasie van die motivering en die belemmering van die opname van OV praktyke in die industrie. Dokument 2 (Hoofstuk 3) vind dat TAV ondernemers gemotiveer word deur die potensiaal om hulle komparatiewe voordeel te verbeter sowel as deur ‘n begeerte om hul omgewing te bewaar. Dokument drie (Hoofstuk 4) dui egter daarop dat hulle weerhou word daarvan om soveel as moontlik te doen ten opsigte van laasgenoemde deur die hoë aanvanklike kapitaal uitgawes, so wel as die lopende kostes geassosieer met die meerderheid OV inisiatiewe. Hierdie besighede kan nie onmiddelik sulke uitgawes bekostig nie ten spite van die potensiële besparings gekoppel aan sulke inisiatiewe. Daar word ook getoon dat die klem op diens in die industrie, wat gaste se gemak bo omgewingsbesorgdheid stel, die grootste ondermynende uitdaging was tot die implimentering van OV in die ondernemings. Die vierde dokument (Hoofstuk 5) maak gebruik van kwantitatiewe data om die sleutel aanwysers van energieverbruik in ondernemings in die industrie te ondersoek. Die bevindinge van hierdie dokument dui daarop dat ondernemings se kenmerke (soos groote) en fasiliteite aangebied (soos ‘n restourant) bydra tot energie verbruik in die industrie. As gesien word in kombinasie met die bevindinge van die vorige dokumente en bestaande studies, wys dit daarop dat Verhitting, Ventilasie en Lugreeling (VVL) klaarblyklik die grootste direkte aanwyser van energie verbruik in TAVs is. Gebaseer op die bevindinge van die vorige dokumente demonstreer die finale dokument (Hoofstuk 6) dat, binne die raamwerk van ‘n gerandomiseerde beheerproef, termiese gemak hoofsaaklik sosiaal gedryf word deur die effektiwiteit van sosiale normatiewe boodskappe te evalueer wat dan ‘n invloed het op die termostaatinstelling van hotelgaste tot meer volhoubare vlakke. Hierdie bevinding is betekenisvol vir TAVs wat sukkel om gaste se gemak op te weeg teen die huidige onvolhoubare trant in VVL verbruik. Hierdie tesis voorsien dus ‘n nuwe konteks en informasie oor die Suid Afrikaanse TAB en bied aan en toets ‘n oplossing vir een van die mees ondermynende uitdagings wat die opname van OV in die industrie aanbetref. Hierdie bevindinge is relevant vir akademiese onderrig op die gebied van Volhoubare Toerisme, vir praktisyns en besluitnemers binne die bedryf, sowel as vir beleidsmakers in die openbare sfeer.Die bottom-up benadering wat aangewend word (wat eerste fokus op die begrip van die bedryf se konteks voor proffesionele oplossings) het empiriese bewyse gegenereer wat beide konvensionele wysheid en bestaande teorieë uitgedaag het in terme van die vraagbestuur van energie en waterhulpbronne en die posisie van die private sektor, veral in die toerisme-akkommodasiebedryf, oor hul rol in die volhoubaarheidsbeweging. Hierdie metode is ook van toepassing op ander privaatsektor-scenario's. As dit aangeneem word, bied dit waardevolle insigte wat die betrokkenheid van die private sektor in sosio-omgewingsvraagstukke kan stimuleer.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/102830
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