Sustainability of marine parks: Is knowledge–attitude–behaviour still relevant?
Marine parks were established to protect the diverse marine ecosystem in Malaysia, and over the years, the islands have attracted an increasing number of tourists. These marine park islands have become not only one of the top ecotourism destinations in Malaysia but an important contributor to the socio-economic growth of the nation. Nonetheless, it is a constant challenge to maintain the marine parks’ natural charm due to negative tourism impacts. Humans’ consumption behaviour has been identified as a driver of climate change. Given that humans’ contribution to the problem is closely related to sustainable behaviour, this study focuses on tourists’ behaviour. With the growing awareness on global environmental challenges, environmental knowledge has often been prescribed as one of the main precursors of tourists’ behaviour, yet few studies have attempted to assess this factor from different dimensions. This paper examines tourists’ environmental knowledge from a multidimensional aspect of factual, conceptual and procedural dimensions to determine its role in influencing attitude and responsible environmental behaviour. A face-to-face survey was conducted among 85 domestic and international marine park tourists, and data were analysed using PLS-SEM method. This preliminary study revealed that environmental knowledge is formatively represented by factual, conceptual and procedural dimensions. Furthermore, results confirmed the linear relationships between knowledge, attitude and behaviour with knowledge as a strong predictor of attitude that leads to higher pro-environmental behaviours, hence highlighting the importance of promoting environmental knowledge among marine park tourists who drives pro-environmental attitude and responsible behaviour to achieve a sustainable ecotourism development.