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“Adoption of Circular Economy and Environmental Certifications: Perceptions of Tourism SMEs” by Owais Khan, Luca Marrucci, Tiberio Daddi, and Nicola Bellini (Institute of Management, Sant ’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy), article in “Journal of Sustainability and Management”, published online: May 2021.

Tourism is one of the most important industries in the world. On the one hand, tourism activities provide a significant boost to many national economies but on the other hand, they severely impact the environment. Tourism SMEs are therefore needed to transform their activities from a linear economy to a circular economy (CE). However, the tourism industry has not yet shown a clear and decisive transition towards CE. There is no or very little academic discussion on why the tourism industry has not yet adopted CE and how tourism SMEs can adopt CE. In this context, we analyzed a sample of 256 tourism SMEs (hotels and accommodations, travel agencies, tour operators, and reservation service activities) based in Cyprus, France, Italy, and Spain. The survey reveals a ruthless situation regarding the adoption of environmental certifications. There is a very low demand to adopt an environmental certification in the tourism industry. Moreover, the adoption of CE among tourism SMEs is not so high. The main factors that hinder the adoption of green or CE practices are lack of funds, lack of information about potential partners, and lack of skilled personnel. Nonetheless, many tourism SMEs perceive that CE adoption leads to various positive outcomes. The study provides some suggestions to facilitate the transition towards CE in the tourism industry. The study focused on multiple objectives. Environmental sustainability among tourism SMEs was analyzed from various perspectives such as drivers, barriers, and outcomes for adopting green or CE practices. The adoption level of environmental certifications in the tourism industry was investigated. This paper contributes to the ongoing academic debate on sustainable tourism by providing a comprehensive view of the situation. Simply put, unlike most of the previous studies, the paper did not only analyze the perceptions of owners or managers from the hotels or accommodations but also analyzed the perceptions of owners or managers from travel agencies, tour operators, and other reservations. This paper provides useful insights for both scholars and practitioners by analyzing the adoption level of green or CE practices as well as by analyzing the demand of suppliers and customers for environmental certifications and green products or services. The results show a ruthless situation regarding the adoption of certifications. The majority of the sample declared to not have any sort of certification. Moreover, environmental certifications such as EU Ecolabel or ISO 14001 have a lower adoption rate than a quality certification such as ISO 9001.