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28 February 2022
Generation Z: the Sustainable Tourism Generation?
Sustainable tourism interventions require an understanding of the social and demographic trends influencing traveler behaviours and how well tourism products and service providers cater such needs and expectations (Haddouche & Salomone, 2018; Robinson & Schänzel, 2019). Although there is no single agreed definition, Generation Z also known as ‘post-millennials’ or ‘iGens’ includes those born in the digital era between the late 1990s and the late 2000s (White, 2017; Corey & Grace, 2019). Gen Z make up the largest group of consumers worldwide, comprising 32 percent of the global population, and are growing in influence and spending power especially in tourism and hospitality (Bloomberg, 2018; European Travel Commission, 2020)
In terms of travel behaviour, Gen Z are often portrayed as socially and environmentally conscious, wanting a mobile-first approach, and desiring authentic local experiences (Monaco, 2018; Wee, 2019). Gen Z'ers grew up in a much more connected world than previous generations and are sometimes referred to as digital natives and demonstrate significant engagement with sustainable and ethical consumerism. The desire of Gen Z’ers for ethical and eco-friendly choices is regarded as a way for expressing their identity (Corey & Grace, 2019). Studies show that the consumer behavior and lifestyle choices of Gen Z differ from those of previous generations when it comes to placing importance on sustainability and ‘green living’ (e.g., Robinson & Schänzel, 2019; Kaplan, 2020).
Surveys reporting the sustainable behaviour of the Gen Z cohort show that Gen Z’ers have a strong sense of social responsibility. For instance, the 2016 Masdar Gen Z global sustainability survey revealed that 59% of Gen Z’ers express genuine interest in leading change in sustainable development. However, Gen Z is not only rejecting non-sustainable brands, but are willing to pay more for sustainable products (e.g., First Insight, 2020), are interested in working or studying in an area linked to sustainability and may refuse to buy from businesses that do not suit their standards, even boycotting them (Masdar, 2016; Wee, 2019). A growing number of studies also indicates that Gen Z may adopt a lifestyle based on the principles of sustainability (e.g., Valentine & Powers 2013; Budac, 2014; Dabija et al., 2020). Several studies also report that compared with previous generations, Gen Z’ers are the most interested in bringing sustainability into their consumption practices (Budac, 2014; Dabija et al., 2020). Consequently, Gen Z appears to have a strong preference for firms that are deemed ethical and that are aligned with their values and therefore want businesses to use their power to push for environmental change, civil justice, human rights, and diversity and inclusion (Su et al., 2019; Bulut et al., 2017). Such awareness clearly has implications for the business models of tourism firms and destinations and heightens the urgent need to incorporate sustainability concepts into their daily operations and market strategies.
Therefore, in response to the growing significance of this generational cohort in terms of growing population and purchasing power, this special issue aims to offer a thorough exploration of the Gen Z and sustainability and help map out the current state of knowledge on Gen Z within a tourism context and especially its implications for sustainable tourism.
This special issue welcomes theoretical, empirical, experimental, and case study research contributions from a wide range of disciplinary and post-disciplinary perspectives. These contributions should clearly address the theoretical and practical implications of the research. Both conceptual and empirical work are welcome. The proposed topics may include but are not limited to the following:
- Gen Z and pro-environmental tourism behaviour
- Gen Z, social media and tourism behaviour
- Gen Z and corporate social responsibility
- Gen Z, ethical consumerism and sustainability
- Gen Z boycotts and tourism-related political consumerism
- Gen Z, food consumerism lifestyle
- Gen Z and consumer activism
- Gen Z consumer activism as upstream social marketing
- Gen Z and Anthropogenic climate change, biodiversity and boycotts
- Gen Z travel experiences, behaviours and patterns
- Gen Z and voluntarism
- Gen Z, tourism and human rights
- Gen Z and boycotting and procotting practices
- Gen Z and waste
- Gen Z and responsible tourism
- Gen Z and gender
- Gen Z and flight shame
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Expressions of interest in contributing a paper to this special issue are invited in the form of an extended abstract (1000-1200 words excluding references), by 15 June 2021, to be submitted by e-mail to Guest Editors (see emails above). Abstracts should include the title, authorship, author affiliation(s) and contact information (including the email addresses of all authors) and keywords (maximum six).
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