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Environmental Management of Small-sized Tourism Accommodations in Turkey



Nazmiye Erdogan
 
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ABSTRACT

This study explores the general character of environmental management in small-sized tourism accommodations (STAs) in Turkey. Its objective is to collect and evaluate information about such accommodations and bring the findings to the attention of interested parties such as researchers, local, national and international policy and decision makers, environmentalists and investors regarding the environmental management of small-sized enterprises. The study data were collected from 104 STA facilities in Turkey. It was found that there is no concern for sustainable management and environmental protection in daily practices of such facilities. The study concludes that further studies are needed to find solutions to the existing problems of poor management and lack of interest in the environment.

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  How to cite this article:

Nazmiye Erdogan , 2007. Environmental Management of Small-sized Tourism Accommodations in Turkey. Journal of Applied Sciences, 7: 1124-1130.

DOI: 10.3923/jas.2007.1124.1130

URL: https://scialert.net/abstract/?doi=jas.2007.1124.1130

INTRODUCTION

Glocalism calls for the development and sustainability of small and medium-sized businesses. Tourism economies are controlled by large and vertically integrated multinational enterprises. Tourism, however, is actually contains a much larger number of small enterprises than the composition of large enterprises (Thomas, 1998; Nemasetoni and Rogerson, 2005). Studies in Australia and the United Kingdom have found that between 95-99% of all tourism enterprises are small independently owned firms. A multitude of information about the environmental protection activities of the hotel industry are provided by the media, press releases and academic research. There is also an abundance of research about successful environmental management policies, applications and initiatives. The majority of studies on environmental management in the tourism industry, however, have focused on large corporations (Mensah, 2005; Carmona-Moreno et al., 2004). Nemasetoni and Rogerson (2005) indicate that there is an increasing interest in learning more about the dynamics of small tourism and hospitality firms and how they interact with the economy and society. Their study cites three recent studies about small firms in tourism (Nemasetoni and Rogerson, 2005; Thomas, 2004; Morrison and Thomas, 2004). It shows, however, that there is a lack of knowledge on STAs in most countries, including Turkey.

Small-sized tourism enterprises throughout the world face serious challenges in order to survive. Quality of service, customer satisfaction and environmental considerations are among these challenges (Tsaur and Lin, 2004). There are, however, very few studies about the environmental practices of small-sized independent hotels, boarding houses and bungalow operators in many countries. There are none in Turkey.

These STAs are independently-owned by individuals or families. Generally, they do not have a well-structured management system in place and are run by their owners, assisted by family members or a few unskilled employees. The quality of service in the tourism sector is often closely linked to the appearance of buildings, interior design, furnishings and quality of service personnel. There is a need, therefore to collect and evaluate information on the managerial character of small-sized tourism accommodations. The objectives of this study are to contribute to meeting this need in Turkey and to promote discussion of its findings among interested parties, including local, national and international policy and decision makers, environmentalists, investors and academics.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

This study was designed as exploratory research in order to determine the general character of the environmental management of small tourism accommodations in Turkey. There are 7637 tourism accommodations licensed by municipal governments in Turkey (Table 1). Of these, 4917 (64.4%) are hotels and 2037 (26.7%) are boarding houses (Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, 2003). There is no statistical information about the number of STAs in Turkey. Hence, it is impossible to determine the population and sampling frame.

Table 1: The regional distribution of accommodations licensed by municipalities (2003)
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In order to solve this problem, the following procedures were used: Firstly, four most visited geographical regions in Turkey were selected. Secondly, locations of data collection from each region were randomly selected. Thirdly, number of STAs to be studied was determined after arriving to study locations. It was observed that accommodations located in a same district of a location often have similar characters. That is why only one (or two, if district is large) accommodation was selected in each district of a location.

Study area: Data were collected from STAs in four geographical regions of Turkey in 2003, 2004 and 2005. In 2003, twenty-nine facilities were studied in the northern part (Black Sea region) of Turkey. In 2004 and 2005, forty-one facilities in the southern part (Mediterranean region) and thirty-four facilities in the northwestern part (Marmara and Northern Aegean regions) were included in the study. These four geographical regions have 89.3% of total number of accommodations licensed by municipal governments and were visited by 84% of the total visitors in 2004 (Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, 2004).

A total of 104 facilities, consisting of 5 (4.8%) bungalows, 37 (35.6%) boarding houses and 62 (59.6%) small hotels were included in the study (Table 2).

Data collection: Two researchers collected the necessary data using on-site observations and unstructured interviews of managers. Information on the external appearances of the facilities was collected by visual observation. Data on guestrooms were collected were made by visual observation, testing the room appliances and asking questions. Study consisted of pre-determined items. Each item was evaluated in terms of (a) its presence and quantity in the room and (b) its condition. The condition was measured by observation using ordinal scales. Relations with guests were defined as the mode of initial greetings and subsequent behavior of facility personnel which was observed during and after registration.

Table 2: Regional distribution of types of facilities studied
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Data on managerial knowledge, attitude and interest in the environment and environmental management such as energy consumption, water use, waste management and maintenance were collected by interviews.

Data analysis: Single variable frequency analysis for grouped data was used to determine the nature of the distribution within each item examined. Cross-tabulation was used to find out the nature of distribution between the categorical variables. No p-value was used since no specific hypothesis was tested, except to find out whether there is a significant relationship between initial and subsequent behaviors toward the guests.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Exterior appearance: The facilities studied have different exterior appearances depending on the character of district and location (Table 3). Boarding houses and small hotels generally have neither any modern nor local distinguishing structural appearances. Although there are some environmentally well-maintained small boarding houses and hotels, most present a dismal picture against the backdrop of the natural beauty of the sea, sand, green hills or mountains. Accommodations in dissimilar regions differ significantly from each other.

Bungalows are designed similar to each other and are generally attractive. The primary difference among bungalows is that those catering to mass tourism are built adjoining each other like small motel rooms and those catering to ecotourism that are individual structures.

Table 3: Exterior appearance of the facility
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Table 4: Distribution of room size according to the type of facility
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Interiors and furnishings: The type of the products used in guestrooms shows the level of quality of hotels, the importance assigned to guests and managerial values. The interiors of guestrooms in hotels, boarding houses and bungalows are usually very plain and generally bland. The overall quality of furnishings such as chairs, tables, closets, curtains, lamps, mirrors, faucets, sinks and toilets varies from mediocre to very poor. The interiors of a very few facilities are professionally designed and furnished with above-average furniture and fittings.

The rooms of all the facilities use only regular entrance keys. They do not use any new type of key system.

The great majority of guest rooms (83.8%) in all facilities are too small to accommodate a table with two chairs. Just over one third of boarding houses (35.1%) have small rooms (Table 4). The majority of beds (76.9%) in all facilities feel comfortable and almost all look clean. Linens in all facilities are of average quality and all are cotton.

The great majority of facilities (89.4%) do not have a table in guestrooms. Only a few hotels (9.7%) and boarding houses (13.5%) have a table in their rooms. Most bungalows have no table at all. Almost all bungalows have plastic chairs and plastic kitchen tables outside at the porch. Most small boarding houses have somewhat better chairs (94.5%) and the majority (69.5%) have kitchen tables. Most chairs and tables are usually dirty.

Only few hotels (12.9%) and boarding houses (5.4%) have television sets. There are no television sets in bungalows.

Table 5: Condition of electrical outlets/switches
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Few hotels (11.3%), some boarding houses (13.5%) and only one bungalow have table lamps in rooms.

The study found that 55.8% of all accommodations have no problems with electrical outlets and switches. There are small problems with electrical switches mostly in hotels (Table 5).

The study found that only 22.1% of rooms (19.4% of hotels and 29.7% of boarding houses) have closets.

Two-thirds of boarding houses (67.6%) have a refrigerator in the rooms. Most of the remaining boarding houses share refrigerators by others in a kitchen in the boarding house facility. Only two hotels and two bungalows have refrigerators.

Most rooms in all facilities have bare walls and 50.9% of them need repair and painting. Almost one-third require some repair and 13.5% are in poor condition. Boarding house walls (54.1%) are in better condition than those of hotels (41.9%). 33.9% of hotel and 40.5% of boarding house room walls require painting only and 17.7% of hotel and 5.4% of boarding house walls require both repair and painting.

Over half of the hotel windows (59.6%) are in good condition. The remainder require moderate repair (22.6%) or serious repair (21.0%). Boarding houses are in relatively better condition, with only 2.7% in need of serious repair and 35.1% in need of some repair.

Nearly half of hotel rooms and one-fourth of boarding houses have some type of carpet. This is of varying quality and usually cheap and generally old in appearance. The rest have bare floors. Room floors are clean. The majority of room floors (61.5%) are in good condition.

A few facilities (3.8%) have bathrooms and showers shared with other guests. Only 14.5% of hotels and 29.7% of boarding houses have normal-size bathrooms. Most bathrooms (80%) are very small. One bungalow bathroom, 43.5% of hotel bathrooms and 13.5% of boarding house bathrooms are extremely small. Very few hotels (3.2%), boarding houses (2.7%) and one bungalow have a large bathroom.

None of the bungalows, 17.7% of hotels and only 35.1% of boarding houses have shower curtains. Over half of the shower heads (58.7%) and 42.3% of shower faucets are usable; however, only 9.6% of shower faucets and 6.7% of showerheads are in good condition (Table 6).

All bungalows, 43.5% of hotels and 16.2% of boarding houses have their floors covered with plastic materials in their bathrooms. The others are mostly tiled.

Half of the facilities have only one towel and 12.5% have more than two towels in the room.

Overall, 17.3% of rooms do not have any soap in the bathroom; 50% have soap and other toiletries. Other toiletries in bathrooms are provided in only 5.8% of the facilities.

Most facilities have hot water all day (81.7%) or for a certain period during the day (12.5%). Three hotels and two boarding houses reported that they had hot water, but did not.

Half of the bathroom sinks are very small and only three hotels, one bungalow and one boarding house have large sinks. Leaking taps and running toilets are common problems. Overall, 66.3% of bathroom faucets function normally; however, only 9.6% appear to be of good quality and work well. All bungalows have normally functioning faucets while 24.2% of hotels and 21.6% of boarding houses have faulty, but usable faucets.

Bathroom mirrors in most facilities are small and of low quality. 79.8% of mirrors in all facilities are in usable condition.

Toilet tanks and seats are generally of low quality with half of the tanks and toilet seats made of plastic. A few toilets have old tanks, with serious flushing problems. Most tanks (82.7%), however, work properly. The remainder is faulty, but usable. Bathrooms generally have undesirable odors as they probably do have faulty or inadequate plumbing. Some rooms have bathroom doors that do not close or doorknobs that are inoperable.

There is no daily housekeeping and no room service in any of facilities.

It appears that there is no regular monitoring or proper maintenance. Furnishings that require replacement and repair, such as electrical switches, light bulbs, faucets, toilet parts, walls, windows, doors, carpeting, chairs and tables, are generally not in good condition. One or two faulty, damaged and broken pieces of equipment can be seen in almost every facility. In some facilities, broken windows are not replaced. Electrical sockets in some rooms are broken or hanging by their wires. Most repairs, including wall painting, are not carried out professionally.

Managers indicate that they are mostly aware of faults and problems. Over half of the facility managers stated that they carry out a full check of guest rooms seasonally (40.4%) and occasionally (10.6%).

Table 6: Condition of showerheads and faucets
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Forty-nine percent of managers indicated that they learn of problems in rooms from guests (13.5%) and in conjunction with guests (35.5%).

The study found that most of hotels, boarding houses and bungalows studied pay minimum attention to the quality of room furniture, bedding, toiletries and other room supplies. They are aware of the problems, but do not wish to carry out proper maintenance and buy new furniture and appliances, because managers say that such improvements are expensive and there are few guests.

Energy use in guest rooms: The study found that most managers make little or no attempt to detect, repair, or replace malfunctioning electrical appliances in guest rooms.

Only one hotel and one boarding house have air conditioning.

Regarding the saving of electrical energy, 42.3% of managers say they can do nothing about it. Some put fewer appliances in rooms (22.1%) and use low-energy light bulbs (25.0%). Others (10.6%) say they do only whatever is necessary most.

The reason for putting fewer or low-energy light bulbs, for example, is not to contribute to environmental protection, but to reduce their own operating costs.

Water use and management in guestrooms: Hotels use considerably more water than regular households because it is required for hotel rooms, kitchens, for laundry, lawns and swimming pools. The study found that, except some persons who use part of their home as a boarding house, most facility managers have never thought of monitoring their water consumption or identifying leaks unless usage was noticeably high or there was a complaint from guests.

None of the facilities uses modern energy or water-saving measures by using efficient or high quality equipment. There is no indication of preventive maintenance by any of the facilities.

Waste management: The study found that almost all facilities collect, store and place their waste in designated places for collection and disposal by garbage collectors. A small number of facilities (19.2%) reported they reuse some bottles, some paper (12.5%) or both (21.2%).

Guest relations: It was observed that facility personnel are mostly polite and concerned with quests until they decide to stay (Table 7). After this, their interest diminishes significantly (Table 8). There is a widespread lack of providing information beyond the first encounter.

In all accommodation facilities, visitor communication do not go beyond the most basic host-guest exchange, such as the price of the room, number of days of stay and questions asked by guests. No information of any sort is provided concerning the facility, the use of rooms, the environment or environmental management. Nor is there any conversation with guests about energy-saving practices or other environmental conservation issues. There are no posters or displays about the environment and no literature or any kind of information is given to guests.

Knowledge and interest in the environment: It was found that none of the facility managers is interested in knowing anything about the environment. They have little or no knowledge about environmental management, sustainable tourism, ecotourism, or environmental protection. When asked about environmental protection, they indicate that they keep the facility clean, change the linens daily and do proper maintenance. The study found that 50.0% have no interest at all in the environment; 41.3% indicate that they try to keep everything clean; 8.7% indicate that they make sure everything is clean and orderly.

Managers say that they are aware of the condition of the rooms. 51.9% indicate they are aware at all times, 38.5% state that they are aware most of the time and 9.6% state that they cannot know the condition of the rooms at all times.

The most repeated complaints about the general conditions were: “no one cares, why should I” Guests are dirty, untidy, careless. We have no money to do anything. The state wants a lot. There are too many rules and regulations. Everything is too expensive. There is no financial support from the government.

Community relations: The study found that only one of 104 managers is involved in voluntary community activity. Some (31.7%) state that they individually help poor people by giving money, food and clothes.

Table 7: Initial and subsequent behavior of management
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Table 8: Comparing the initial and subsequent behaviors
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Chi-square = 58.548, df = 4, p = 0.001, gamma = 0.82

The study also found that none of the small facility managers made any financial contribution to their communities because they do not feel the need to generate any positive publicity or improve their reputations.

CONCLUSIONS

This study found that STAs are seriously lacking in an understanding and practice of environmental protection and conservation. As Okoroh et al. (2003) and other studies indicate, there is a need for life-cycle planning of facilities and proactive environmental protection, conservation and maintenance policy, as well as the resources needed to cope with existing and changing demands.

Mimetic pressures emerge from pragmatic need of imitating the behavior of the profitable and respected companies in the industry (Rivera, 2004); however, small accommodations mimic each other. Furthermore, normative pressures promoted by professional institutions, industry associations and other non-governmental organizations seem to be ineffective when it comes to small accommodation facilities. The findings of the present study suggest that external forces and initiatives can not bring about significant changes without the existence of an appropriate small business culture and essential financial conditions. The existing practices are their way of operating their business, which reflects their business culture and this is why it is not expected that they would be interested in environmental protection and upgrade older, inefficient and malfunctioning equipment or replace it with newer technology.

Empirical evidence on the business motivations for participating in voluntary programs and the environmental effectiveness of voluntary initiatives remains contradictory (Carmin et al., 2003; Delmas, 2002; Rivera, 2004). The findings of the present study indicate that small hotels in Turkey mostly do not have the business culture and financial resources to allow them to consider environmental policies and practices. None of the managers of STAs have an interest in or technical knowledge about environmental management. It is apparent that the only way that they might consider adopting environmental protection practices is if they are convinced that there is a resulting positive impact on financial performance or short term economic gain. Any investment by them, including deploying resources for environmental management that will bring profit in the medium to long range is not considered.

Furthermore, even if a small accommodation manager is to some extent environmentally sensitive, it may be extremely difficult to develop and implement an environmental management program because small companies do not have the resources to give them a sustainable competitive advantage (Carmona-Moreno et al., 2004). They do not have the internal organizational infrastructure to conduct environmental management. Nor do they have the corporate pressure from chain affiliations or stakeholders (Mensah, 2005). All small businesses, of course face such difficulties and problems in their development. They lack financial resources and management skills, have extremely limited access to expertise and have life-style motivations that create long-term economic problems (Ateljevic and Doorne, 2004).

This study found that environmental management of hotel facilities such as formulation of policies, water and energy consumption, general supplies consumption, waste management and employee training is considerably lacking. The conditions of the facilities and managerial knowledge, understanding and practices about the environment and facility management reveal an almost total lack of interest in the environment, sustainable business development, relevant planning and policy. These small-sized tourism enterprises are completely outside the accreditation and award mechanisms for improving the industry’s sustainability and environmental performance. They have no record keeping on any environmental performance indicators in their facilities because they have no planned activity for facility management for environmental performance.

There is an urgent need to find ways to integrate small businesses into sustainable tourism and environmental protection programs, projects and activities. Furthermore, as researchers like Welford and Ytterhus (2004) and Cespedes-Lorente et al. (2003) suggest, tourism development at the destination needs to be managed appropriately with emphasis on local action involving a number of different local stakeholders.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Ateljevic and Doorne (2004) indicate that small tourism enterprises have short-term business horizons and often limited knowledge of the business environment. They are primarily family businesses. Their sources and channels of maintaining business relations and their ability to create necessary surplus for expansion are limited (Özgener and Iraz, 2006). Their growth potential, therefore, is extremely low and their main concern unfortunately does not go beyond basic survival. The following concerns are not reflected in their decisions and daily practices: (a) integrating environmental design elements in their building and landscape plans; (b) the use of resource inventories and environmental impact assessment; (c) the need to provide hotel management with a diagnostic tool to evaluate and control the service quality from the customer satisfaction perspective (Erto and Vanacore, 2002); (d) establishing regular monitoring, maintenance, repair and replacement system, thereby establishing a sustainable business and work culture; (e) communicating environmental interest and performance to their guests and businesses and (f) establishing and promoting long-term business relations instead of focusing only on short-term financial returns.

Future studies should focus on ways to overcome all these problems.

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