Crowding at destinations is becoming an important issue in sustainable tourism. This study examines the relationship between tourist perceptions of crowding, environmentally responsible behavior (ERB), and intention to recommend a destination, from a helping behavior perspective. It proposes two discrete emotions, in particular anger and sympathy, to understand how tourist perceptions of crowding affect their helping behavior. We collected data through an online survey of tourists who had visited Jeju Island, which has emerged as Korea’s tourism hub. We performed structural equation modeling (SEM) and regression analysis to empirically test the research model. The results reveal that while tourist perceptions of spatial crowding positively impact both anger and sympathy, human crowding perceptions do not link to them. Further, we investigated the incompatible roles of anger and sympathy in tourist ERB and intention to recommend. Whereas anger weakens tourist ERB and intention to recommend, sympathy may strengthen them. This study also examined whether destination social responsibility (DSR) moderates the impact of crowding perceptions on the aforementioned emotions. In addition to encouraging relevant studies, we emphasize the importance of DSR, given the need for destination management organizations and tourism managers to understand tourists’ emotional responses and helping behavior at crowded destinations.
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