Eco labels and tourism flows: How much is a Blue Flag worth?
The rise in destination accessibility and the emergence of new market segments have increased the competition among tourism destinations, both at national and international level. In order to gain a significant competitive advantage over competitors, destinations increasingly make use of signals that certify and communicate the level of quality provided. While existing research on tourism certifications mostly pertains to quality evaluation, this study exploits quantitative methods to assess the economic impact of destinations’ labels. The analysis considers one of the most popular certification of environmental quality attributed to beaches, the Blue Flag award. It explores the relationship between the certification achievement and inbound tourist flows, focusing on the Italian case study. In fact, given their aim of providing synthetized information on destinations, certification programs particularly affect foreign tourists who suffer more from asymmetric information. Panel data techniques and highly disaggregated data are employed to compare the attractiveness of certified and non-certified provinces, by controlling for several factors potentially confounding the effect of the certification.
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