Sustainability Decision-Making in Tourism SMEs in El Salvador

Daniel Abildtrup Madsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The purpose of this thesis was to investigate the influences on the sustainability decision-making by owners and managers of small and medium-sized tourism enterprises (SMEs) in El Salvador. The thesis examined several reasons and barriers for implementing sustainability activities, where each component could be transferred to the framework developed by Tamajón & Font (2013) and Font et al. (2014). This thesis also studied the tourists and residents’ influences on the applied framework. The research was carried out by conducting online surveys to the decision makers of tourism SMEs in four touristic areas of El Salvador. The residents and tourists were also analysed through paper-based self-administered questionnaires. I received 57 usable responses from the decision makers, which I analysed with statistical instruments and an analytical mind-set. My results showed that the most influential frame in the reasons was the lifestyle value frame, which recorded 54% of the total influence and was favoured significantly more than the other two frames by 77% of the decision makers. The most influential frame in the barriers were the business frame, which recorded 60% of the total influence and was favoured significantly more than the other two frames by 70% of the decision makers. The residents and tourists valued sustainability activities as being important to them. I was able to conclude, that the theoretical framework I had used was able to describe the influences on sustainability decision-making well. I also found that the differences in influence on the sustainability decision-making was significantly different in El Salvador compared to the previous studies in developed countries. Decision makers in El Salvador was influenced more by the lifestyle values, where the strong commitment to their community was evident, and less by the business frame, where monetary incentives was not a factor. However, differences in the contexts of developing and developed countries have an impact on how many and with how much effort sustainability activities are implemented, which can influence the decision-making process, making the comparison less valid. The tourists had not been a catalyst for the framework to be more influential, whereas the residents had increased the influence from the lifestyle value frame.

EducationsMSocSc in Service Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2014
Number of pages120