Perception of Importance and Performance of Certified Costa Rican Ecolodges
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With the growth ecotourism and of nature-based tourism, ecolodges are becoming more popular as an accommodation choice by tourists. There is currently no universal certification program ensuring service quality or environmental sustainability for ecolodges. Costa Rica is one of the few countries with a certification program in place that allows ecolodges to join by meeting certain standards. Visitors from three different certified ecolodges in Costa Rica were asked to fill out a questionnaire asking for demographic and trip characteristic information, with a section pertaining to their perception of importance and performance of 42 ecolodge attributes. The information was then applied to an Importance-Performance Analysis to gain a better understanding of how ecolodges are operating based on visitor feedback. The results from this thesis are then compared to the results of a similar study done by Kwan (2008) in Belize, where no certification exists for ecolodges. It is found that certified ecolodges received higher performance scores from their guests than uncertified ecolodges. It was also found that visitors place higher importance on more attributes when visiting a certified ecolodge, compared to uncertified ecolodges. This study also found that certified ecolodges are meeting the expectations of their clientele, by having higher performance scores than importance scores on 41 of 42 attributes. This thesis indicates that the presence of certification programs for ecolodges influences higher performance scores and can help ensure a successful future for this type of accommodation.