Evaluating user-generated content in social media: an effective approach to encourage greater pro-environmental behavior in tourism?

Wei Han, Scott McCabe, Yi Wang, Alain Yee Loong Chong

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

124 Citations (Scopus)
57 Downloads (Pure)


Appealing to tourists’ intrinsic interest for high-quality tourism environments, and thus encouraging them to act with a greater sense of personal responsibility toward the environment, could be critical to promoting sustainable tourism. Proliferating media channels makes the choice, style and delivery of pro-environmental messages a key issue for tourism marketers and management. Social media has become a recognized important channel for tourism information, with user-generated content (UGC) being more trusted than official channels, yet there is little knowledge about its potential role in activating pro-environmental norms. This study investigates that issue. Focusing on the conjoining aspects of personal and social norms for the first time, we propose a hypothetical model to explain the direct and indirect effects of pro-environmental UGC in activating tourists’ pro-environmental behavioral intentions. Working in a Chinese context, where social media plays an increasing role, the research, using a web-based sample (N = 1043), UGC-linked pro-environmental knowledge and awareness, was found to have a strong role in activating pro-environmental norms, creating a pro-environment online community, and increasing tourists’ level of engagement in pro-environmental social media activity. The study highlights the effectiveness of social media channels with UGC providing persuasive communications able to impact sustainable behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)600-614
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Sustainable Tourism
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2018


  • Pro-environmental behavior
  • norms
  • social media
  • tourism marketing
  • user-generated content

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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