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Study Shows Local Tourists’ Awareness Influences Plastic Waste Reduction in Jeddah

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A recent study has revealed the significant role of awareness in motivating local tourists to reduce plastic waste on Jeddah’s beaches. Researchers from the University of Hail and Minia University investigated how awareness of the consequences, subjective norms, attitudes, and perceived behavioural control influence tourists’ intentions to minimise plastic waste. This study represents a pioneering effort to integrate the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) with an awareness of consequences to investigate this pressing environmental issue in Saudi Arabia.

The findings were published in the journal Sustainability.

The study surveyed 390 local tourists visiting Jeddah’s marine beaches from June to August 2023, with 271 valid responses collected for data analysis. The findings showed that perceived behavioural control, subjective norms, and awareness of the consequences were the three most significant predictors of behavioural intention. Interestingly, attitude did not significantly influence the intention to reduce plastic waste.

Lead researcher Adel Nasser Badawi emphasised that the addition of awareness of consequences to the TPB provided a more comprehensive understanding of tourists’ behavioural intentions. “This study extends the TPB by highlighting the critical role of environmental awareness in shaping pro-environmental behaviour,” Badawi stated.

The study found that tourists with a high awareness of the negative impacts of plastic waste on the environment were more likely to intend to reduce their plastic waste. This awareness was the strongest predictor of behavioural intention, accounting for approximately 42% of the variance in intentions. The findings suggest that educational initiatives to increase environmental awareness can significantly influence tourists’ intentions to engage in pro-environmental behaviours.

The findings underscore the importance of environmental education. When tourists understand the detrimental effects of plastic waste, they are more inclined to take action to mitigate these impacts.

Perceived behavioural control, which refers to an individual’s perception of their ability to perform a specific behaviour, was the second most influential factor. Tourists who felt they had the resources and capabilities to reduce plastic waste were more likely to intend to do so. This finding aligns with previous studies indicating that perceived behavioural control is a critical determinant of pro-environmental behaviour.

Subjective norms, or the perceived social pressures from significant others, also played a crucial role. The study revealed that tourists were more likely to intend to reduce plastic waste when they believed that their friends, family, and peers expected them to engage in such behaviours. This social influence highlights the need for community and familial support in promoting environmental responsibility.

Contrary to expectations, the study found that attitude towards reducing plastic waste did not significantly predict behavioural intention. This finding contrasts with earlier studies that have shown a positive relationship between attitude and pro-environmental behaviour. The researchers suggest that other factors, such as cultural or contextual influences, may moderate the impact of attitude on behavioural intention in this context.

The study’s findings have several implications for policymakers and destination managers. Enhancing environmental awareness through targeted educational campaigns can be an effective strategy to promote pro-environmental behaviours among tourists. Additionally, efforts to improve tourists’ perceived behavioural control, such as providing accessible recycling facilities and promoting the use of reusable bags, can further encourage plastic waste reduction.

The study also highlights the importance of leveraging social norms to foster environmentally responsible behaviour. Initiatives that involve community leaders and influential figures in promoting waste reduction can create a supportive social environment that motivates tourists to adopt sustainable practices.

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