Tourism & Leisure Studies International Award for Excellence

The Journal of Tourism and Leisure Studies offers an annual award for newly published research or thinking that has been recognized to be outstanding by members of the Tourism & Leisure Studies Research Network.

Award Winners for Volume 3

Impacts of Participation in Socially Responsible Tourism on Tourist’s Attitudes and Future Behavior: Amazon Watch Journey to Ecuador

Socially responsible tourism (SRT), a viable alternative to mass tourism, promotes local communities. SRT evolved from sustainable tourism and ecotourism when the original focus on the environment expanded to include a concern for the well-being of local communities. Past studies have shown that ecotourism has the ability to change tourists’ behavior and attitudes, ultimately benefiting endangered ecosystems. Further research has investigated socioeconomic benefits that result from SRT for local communities visited. However, research has yet to examine if SRT has the ability to change tourists’ attitudes and behavior regarding communities they visit. The present case study applies Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) to examine change in tourist attitudes and behavior as a result of participating in a socially responsible tour to the Ecuadorian Amazon with Amazon Watch. Social responsibility was implemented into the tour with the intention to create attitudes and behavior in tour participants that would result in advocacy for local communities visited. The study revealed that participation in the socially responsible tour resulted in participants advocating for the communities they visited while on the tour by integrating their insights from the tour into their professional endeavors.


Mass tourism is argued to have negative consequences for the environment and local communities where it is practiced. In order to counteract these negative effects, new forms of tourism, including sustainable tourism, ecotourism and socially responsible tourism (SRT) have been developed. SRT evolved from sustainable tourism and ecotourism when the original focus on environmental protection and conservation expanded to include a concern for the well-being of local communities. Past studies have shown that ecotourism can change tourists’ behaviors and attitudes, ultimately benefiting endangered ecosystems. Further research has investigated socio-economic benefits that result from SRT for local communities visited. This study examined change in tourist attitudes and behaviors as a result of participating in a socially responsible tour to the Ecuadorian Amazon with Amazon Watch. The tour included two concepts that are an essential part of every socially responsible tour experience. First, experiential educational opportunities were given to tour participants through interactions with local communities. Group reflection was then implemented into the tour with the idea that participants would be able to examine their own attitudes and behaviors regarding their experiences. During group reflection, participants generated ideas on how to effectively advocate for the local communities they had visited. Three months after the tour ended, the study discovered that all tour participants incorporated advocacy measures for the communities visited into their chosen professions. This study demonstrated that participation in a socially responsible tour has the ability to inspire and motivate tour participants to support communities they visit while on the tour by integrating advocacy into their professional endeavors.

Heather Duplaisir, Pavlina Latkova, Jackson Wilson, and Malia Everette

Past Award Winners

Volume 2

The Application of Slow Movement to Tourism: Is Slow Tourism a New Paradigm?

Polyxeni Moira, Dimitrios Mylonopoulos and Ekaterini Kondoudaki, Journal of Tourism and Leisure Studies, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.1–10


Volume 1

Investigating Differences in Generational Travel Preferences: The Case of the New River Gorge, West Virginia

Douglas Arbogast and Megan L. Smith, Journal of Tourism and Leisure Studies, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp.9–29