Cities are some of the main tourist destinations from a global perspective, affecting both domestic and international incoming traffic. The main tourist motives for visiting cities are of a cultural nature, including historical, business, commercial, and leisure purposes. Tourists visiting cities spend part of their time in closed facilities, but also in the open air, when moving around the city and especially when sightseeing. Hence, the air quality may become an important factor conditioning the tourist perception of urban space.
Cities perform a number of functions, and the implementation of some of these functions may cause side effects, e.g., in the form of emissions of substances contributing to air pollution. However, it should be mentioned here that tourism may also be responsible for its creation. Air pollution can cause many diseases and health problems, but does not always require a long period of exposure to harmful factors. This means that the negative effects of breathing in polluted air can also be felt by tourists. Due to the fact that tourist trips are rarely obligatory (with the exception of business trips), people who are aware of this may treat the condition of air quality in a given city as one of the factors determining its attractiveness. This may translate into a final decision to choose a tourist destination.
The aim of the present article is to determine whether potential tourists, when assessing the attractiveness of a city to which they intend to go for tourism purposes, consider information about the existing air quality. It is also intended to assess the impact of this information on their travel decisions. In order to achieve this objective, studies were carried out on the principles and methods of providing information on the current state of air pollution in cities belonging to the European Union. Additionally, a questionnaire survey was conducted to identify factors that could determine the increased interest in information about the condition of a city’s air quality.
The subject is important due to the mass character of urban tourism and the growing number of cities facing problems with maintaining imposed air quality standards. Despite the importance of this subject, it is rarely the focus of scientific research. Thus, the study fills in the existing theoretical gap and deals with issues related to city tourism. It also draws attention to the fact that the cleanliness of air in cities may be important not only for their inhabitants, but also for potential tourists who assess their tourist attractiveness, and thus influence the economy of a given city.
3. Materials and Methods
In the present article, the influence of air pollution on tourism in cities is investigated. In this context, the main aim of the article is to examine the influence of information about the state of air pollution on decisions concerning tourist trips to cities. In order to achieve this goal, the authors established a specific order of research.
For the purposes of the research, a research hypothesis (H) was formulated: Information on the state of air pollution affects the assessment of the level of tourist attractiveness of cities by potential tourists, and thus affects decisions concerning tourist trips
. The following auxiliary hypotheses were also put forward (h):
The importance attached to the state of air pollution by a potential tourist in a selected tourist destination depends on the duration of the planned trip.
The importance attached to the state of air pollution by an exemplary tourist in a selected tourist destination depends on whether the tourist trip will involve children.
The importance attached to the state of air pollution by an exemplary tourist in a selected tourist destination depends on the motive for departure (e.g., business trip, private trip).
For the purposes of research, the demoscopic method, i.e., a diagnostic survey based on surveys, was used, using the CAWI (Computer-Assisted Web Interviewing) technique. Surveys were sent out via e-mail and made available on the authors’ Facebook profiles. Mailing took place between February and May 2019. A request to make the survey available to potential respondents was addressed to employees of universities, public administration offices, public libraries, and other workplaces in various Polish cities. The respondents were anonymous, independent, and were coming from different regions of Poland. A random sample selection was used, assuming that each of the respondents is a potential tourist. However, the requirement to have reached the age of 18 was introduced, as in Poland this is the age at which independent decisions can be made. In addition, due to the fact that the survey was conducted in Polish, the group of respondents was limited to those from Poland. Finally, 509 respondents participated in the study.
The survey prepared by the team consisted of three main parts. The first part included questions concerning the gender, age, place of residence, and health status of respondents, with only one possible answer.
The second part of the survey concerned 2 types of tourist trips: Business and private, each including domestic trips (in Poland) and foreign trips (outside Poland):
The first three questions in each of the thematic blocks concerned information on the frequency of trips, the length of stay during the trip, and checking the state of air pollution in the city to which the respondent intends to go on a tourist trip. Each question required a single answer. The last question in each of the thematic blocks was answered only by those respondents who did not give a clear answer to the question concerning checking the state of air pollution in the city they are going to visit. This question was aimed at determining the reasons why respondents check the state of air pollution in the cities they visit. In this question, a five-step Likert scale was used, where 1 meant the least important factor and 5 meant the most important. Additionally, in the case of thematic block 2, Private trips, questions were introduced concerning potential participation of children during a joint tourist trip, age of children, health condition of children, and checking the state of air pollution in the city that the respondents and their children visit.
The third part of the survey consisted of questions concerning, among others:
The impact of air quality on the subjective assessment of the city’s tourist attractiveness in the opinion of respondents;
personal protective equipment used by respondents in case of bad air condition;
ways of informing tourists about the state of air pollution.
These included questions requiring one answer, questions allowing for the selection of multiple answers, and questions using the five-step Likert scale.
The division of the questionnaire into three main parts is presented schematically in Figure 1
The results of the study are discussed in the context of the formulated research hypotheses. A chi-squared test was used to verify the veracity of the hypotheses presented in the article. In addition, the obtained survey results are presented in graphical form. The article ends with conclusions and recommendations concerning the results of the study.
4. Analysis of Results in the Context of Established Research Hypotheses
The survey was conducted on a sample of 509 people, 74% of whom were women and 26% of whom were men, all aged 18 to 75 years of age. The respondents were asked about the impact of the state of air pollution in a given city on decisions concerning tourist trips. The average age of the respondents was 40.73 years, while the standard deviation was 12.87 years. The average age of the surveyed women was 41.06 years and that of the men was 39.77 years. In this case, the standard deviation was 12.09 and 14.88 years, respectively. Based on the quartile values, 50% of the respondents were aged between 31.28 and 49.67 years. This means that the respondents were mainly women, who are potentially more interested in the state of air pollution, and mainly middle-aged people who go on tourist trips without small children. Detailed age distribution parameters of the respondents, including gender, are presented in Figure 2
Respondents were asked about the frequency of domestic (travel in Poland) and foreign trips to cities with a distinction between business and private trips. When arranging the survey, separate time periods were adopted for these trips, taking into account their typical nature.
Among the respondents, 36.7% indicated that they participate in domestic business trips to cities several times a year, while 37.1% of people did not travel on business in Poland at all. These results are presented on a 3D chart and on a plane in Figure 3
. The 3D chart shows the frequency of trips on one axis and the length of the trip on the other. The value axis is the percentage of people declaring that they visit cities. The 2D chart is a projection of the 3D chart. With the most frequency, as many as 21% of respondents indicated that they take a trip lasting 2–3 days several times a year; 16% of the respondents took part in a one-day trip several times a year, and 11% took part in such a trip only once.
The frequency of foreign business trips to cities was much lower among the respondents (Figure 5). As many as 80.2% of respondents indicated that they do not take part in such trips at all, 9.4% travel several times a year, and 8.8% once a year. From the surface chart in Figure 4
, it can be concluded that business trips outside Poland take place up to several times a year and last from 2 days to 1 week. After that, 4% of the respondents indicated that they participate in trips lasting 2–3 days or longer than 1 week. These results are visible at the highest level of Figure 4
In a similar way, the frequency of private trips to cities, divided into domestic and international, is presented in 3D and 2D charts in Figure 5
and Figure 6
. The largest number of respondents (71.5%) declared that they travel privately to cities in Poland several times a year. Foreign trips were experienced by 43.2% of the respondents. Meanwhile, 2.6% of the respondents did not take part in private domestic trips, and in the case of foreign trips, this percentage was much higher and amounted to 28.7% of the respondents. 3D charts (Figure 5
and Figure 6
) show that the largest number of private travellers in Poland, i.e., 34%, take part in such trips several times a year. In the case of private trips abroad, the number of people taking part in such trips was much lower—22% of the respondents. In both cases, these were usually trips lasting up to 1 week.
, Figure 8
and Figure 9
present the results of the answers to the questions concerning the verification of air pollution in the destination city by the respondents. This was analysed in terms of:
The length of the trip (distinguishing between business and private),
travel with children (domestic and foreign),
the motive for the journey (including private or business, domestic or foreign).
In the case of this question, the respondents had four types of answers at their disposal:
The study shows that the respondents—in all analysed cases—rarely check the state of air pollution in the city they are going to.
For business trips lasting between 2 weeks and 1 month, 50% of respondents indicated that they never consciously check the state of air pollution in the city they are traveling to, and 50% said they never even thought about it (Figure 7
). For shorter business trips lasting 1 day or 2–3 days, more than 50% of respondents never check the state of air pollution. However, there were affirmative answers of 2% and 6%, respectively, when respondents declared that they always looked for such information. The state of air pollution in the destination city was checked “sometimes” by 14% of people who travelled on business for 1 day and by 15% who travelled for 2–3 days. In private trips (Figure 8
), regardless of the length of the trip, 50% or more people never checked the state of air pollution. However, in the case of trips for a longer period of time—lasting more than 1 month—as many as 13% of people always looked for such information.
: To check whether there is a relationship between the duration of the trip and the importance attached to the state of air pollution by a potential tourist, a chi-squared test was carried out. The following statistical hypotheses were tested:
Null hypothesis H0a: There is no relationship between the duration of the planned trip and the importance attached to the state of air pollution by a potential tourist in a selected tourist destination.
Alternative hypothesis H1a: There is a relationship between the duration of the planned trip and the importance attached to the state of air pollution by a potential tourist in a selected tourist destination.
The obtained results are presented in Table 3
. In both the cases of business and private travel, a significance level above 0.05 was obtained. Considering the test results, we conclude that there is no reason to reject the null hypothesis H0a. Therefore, it should be recognized that there is no significant relationship between the duration of the planned trip and the importance attached to the state of air pollution by a potential tourist. This conclusion applies to both business and private travel in Poland and abroad.
For the purpose of the survey, a group of people who had children and travelled with them was selected from among all the respondents. Their answers to the question about checking the state of air pollution in the tourist destination city show that the representatives of this group also rarely check the condition of air quality (Figure 9
). However, the results differed depending on the location of the destination. For domestic trips, 69% of travellers do not consciously check or have never even thought to check the air quality. This percentage was much higher in the case of foreign trips, and amounted to as much as 82% of people. For those without children, the results were slightly different—76% of those traveling in Poland and 70% of those traveling abroad did not check or never thought about checking the state of air pollution at their destination.
Among those who always checked the state of air pollution before traveling to cities, the highest number of people went on domestic trips with children (7%). In the case of people traveling in Poland without children, this percentage was only slightly lower and amounted to 6%.
Using the chi-squared test, the relationship between the results of checking air pollution among people who have children and travel with them and those who do not have children was verified. The test compared the independence of the responses on checking air pollution before traveling abroad and in Poland for people who have children and those who do not have them. The following hypotheses were examined in this test:
Null hypothesis H0b: There is no relationship between the responses of people with children and those who have no children and the importance attached to the state of air pollution by a potential tourist in a selected tourist destination.
Alternative hypothesis H1b: There is a relationship between the responses of people with children and those who have no children the importance attached to the state of air pollution by a potential tourist in a selected tourist destination.
The test results are shown in Table 4
. In this case, the null hypothesis H0b was rejected; the significance level is less than 0.05. This means that there is a relationship between checking air pollution and having children.
Another cross-section of data obtained as a result of the survey concerned the relationship between the state of air pollution being checked by the respondents and the motive for travel (private or business); the results are presented in Figure 10
Only 6% of people always check the air quality when traveling privately to cities in Poland, 4% when traveling on business in Poland, 3% when traveling privately to cities outside Poland, and 2% when traveling on business outside Poland. When traveling on business to cities in Poland, as many as 80% of people do not check the state of air pollution at their destination. The same is true for business trips abroad, where the percentage was 83%. For private travel, 73% of travellers in Poland and 81% of travellers outside Poland never consciously check or even think about checking the air condition at their destination.
To check the independence of the respondents’ travel type (business or private travel in Poland and abroad) from checking the state of air pollution, another Person’s chi-squared test was performed. The hypotheses are as follows:
Null hypothesis H0c: There is no relationship between the type of trip (business or private travel in Poland and abroad) and the importance attached to the state of air pollution by a potential tourist in a selected tourist destination.
Alternative hypothesis H1c: There is a relationship between the type of trip (business or private travel in Poland and abroad) the importance attached to the state of air pollution by a potential tourist in a selected tourist destination.
The test results presented in Table 5
indicate that the null hypothesis H0c should be rejected; the significance level is less than 0.05. Thus, there is a relationship between the type of travel of respondents (business or private trip to Poland or abroad) and checking the state of air pollution at the travel destination.
The respondents who did not give a clear answer to the question "do you check the state of air pollution in the city you are going to", i.e., marked the answers:
were additionally asked whether factors such as:
Region of the destination,
time spent in the city,
children’s participation in the trip,
may induce them to check the state of air pollution at the destination of a private or business trip (Figure 11
In response to this question, 44% of respondents said that in the case of private trips, their decision as to whether or not to check the state of air pollution in the city they are visiting was dependent on the region in which it is located. In the group of business travellers, 37% of respondents indicated such a dependence.
Moreover, 29% of respondents traveling privately and 25% of respondents traveling on business indicated that their decision to check the air quality depended on the length of their trip.
As many as 53% of private travellers believe that traveling with children will not make them check the state of air pollution at the destination.
All the respondents were also asked whether the state of air pollution in a given city affects their subjective assessment of the level of tourist attractiveness of the city. The majority of respondents (57%) answered positively. A question was also asked about whether the poor condition of the air in a given city could make them cancel their travel plans. Figure 12
shows the distribution of data on the impact of air pollution on the assessment of the tourist attractiveness of a city, and answers to the question about whether the respondent would cancel travel due to the bad air condition in a given city. Among those claiming to have such a dependency, 8% would sometimes cancel travel due to air quality. However, the vast majority, as many as 88%, has never made such a decision.
In order to reduce the negative impact of air pollution on health, various protective measures can be applied. Their use, however, is associated with a high awareness of the negative effects that can occur in the organisms of people who come into contact with poisonous substances in the air. Respondents’ answers to a question concerning their willingness to use various protective measures are presented in Figure 13
. Separate responses show that 14% of respondents would allow the use of a protective mask, and 7% would be willing to use pharmaceuticals, while the largest number of people—26%—would reduce the time spent outdoors as a method of protection against pollution.
However, the respondents’ answers were dominated by those indicating a lack of willingness to use any personal protection against pollution. As many as 45% of people would definitely refuse to use pharmaceuticals, 29% would definitely not wear a protective mask, and 15% would definitely not limit the time spent outdoors.
The respondents were also asked how they would like to be informed about the state of air pollution in the city they are going to. Figure 14
presents a graph of respondents’ answers to the question about their preferred form of being informed about the state of air pollution in the city.
According to the results obtained, information on the state of air pollution should be provided ("Yes" and "Definitely yes" answers) mainly on the city’s websites (88%), as well as distributed through mobile applications (84%), travel agencies (84%), media (78%), and social media (78%).
On the basis of the results obtained, conclusions are drawn and recommendations are presented concerning the management of the tourist attractiveness of a city with particular emphasis on the state of air quality.
5. Conclusions and Recommendations Concerning the Management of a City’s Tourist Attractiveness
More than half of the respondents said that air quality is a decisive factor in the subjective assessment of the level of tourist attractiveness of a given city destination. Tourist attractiveness determines the competitiveness of a place, and therefore can directly influence the decisions related to a tourist trip to a specific city. The results of the study confirmed the main hypothesis of the article.
The conducted study showed a contradiction between the behaviours and beliefs of the respondents. According to the results of the analysis, checking the air quality of the cities that they visit for tourism (although it is considered a determinant of the attractiveness of destinations) was not popular among respondents. However, it has been noted that there are some regularities confirming the auxiliary hypotheses put forward in the article. Using the chi-squared test, the relationship between the purpose of the trip (both abroad and within Poland) and the importance attached to the state of air quality was confirmed (h3 confirmed). Histogram analyses showed that when traveling for private purposes, respondents were more inclined to check the air quality than when traveling for business purposes. This dependence is probably due to the fact that business trip destinations are usually imposed by the employer. In the case of private trips, potential tourists choose their own tourist destination based on their preferences.
Chi-squared tests showed a relationship between checking air pollution and having children (h2 confirmed). Based on the percentage values shown in Figure 9
, it was concluded that among those checking the air quality, more people were traveling with children. This is probably due to the concern for children’s health and awareness of the fact that pollution is particularly dangerous for the youngest.
The chi-squared test showed no relationship between the importance attached to the state of air pollution by a potential tourist and the duration of the planned trip. Thus, h1 could not be confirmed.
It should be noted, however, that the percentage of people seeking information on air pollution in selected cities that are tourist destinations is very small. This is despite the widespread availability of this information. Respondents said they wanted to be informed about pollution and pointed to different tools and forms of information that would be most effective for them. It should be noted, however, that the information system exists and all the tools indicated by the respondents are publicly available. The fact that the respondents do not use them does not result from difficulties in finding them, but rather from low awareness that this information is even important during tourist trips. The fact that the respondents are not fully aware of the harmful effects that polluted air may have on their health is also confirmed by the answers to the question about whether they would apply self-protection measures in case of contact with polluted air. The general reluctance to such solutions indicates that the threats are underestimated. It can therefore be concluded that there is a need for further action in the field of education. The state of air quality and available information are already becoming factors influencing travel decisions for potential tourists, i.e., people who make comparisons of places (cities) for their own needs, which could be their destination in the short or long term. Thus, they determine the overall tourist image of the city. Another point is that when visiting websites about tourist attractions in a given city, very rarely it is possible to find information about the level of air pollution. Many cities that are attractive for tourists due to their history, monuments, etc. for obvious reasons do not inform about threats related to the condition of air quality in the city. The results of the survey conducted by the authors of the present article led them to further research the causes of the low interest from potential tourists in checking the state of air pollution in the city they are planning to visit.
Parallel to educational activities aimed at raising awareness of the impact of pollution on health, actions aimed at improving air quality in cities are also necessary. Actions undertaken in cities aimed at limiting emissions will be able to influence the development of cities, including urban tourism, increase the level of competitiveness of cities, including the level of tourist attractiveness, conduct an active promotional policy of cities on the tourist market, and, in particular, shape a positive tourist image. This is a great opportunity for cities which, until now, have not been so popular among tourists and have not emphasized in their promotional activities the care for cleanliness of the air.
On this basis, it should be pointed out that a decisive role in the management of the tourist offer in terms of shaping the tourist attractiveness of the city should be played by local government units in cooperation with tourist organizations, including economic self-government, regional, and local tourist organizations, and, above all, tourist enterprises. They should be involved in providing information on the air quality condition of urban areas through websites and in direct contact with potential and actual tourists. The information provided on air quality, which is part of the overall tourist attraction, directly influences the purchasing decisions of potential tourists concerning their arrival at a specific urban destination.