What unsustainable behavior needs to change:
Gili Trawangan is a popular Indonesian island destination hosting over 2,000 daily global tourists seeking sports, entertainment, and natural beauty. While tourism has been beneficial for the local economy, this influx of visitors poses threats to marine biodiversity.
An attempt to enforce local nature preservation has been set in place: Scuba divers must pay a 50,000 IDR fee (approx. $3.75USD) to support Gili Eco Trust’s coral reef conservation. However, divers comprise only 15% of total tourists. Although the remaining 85% of tourists have concerns regarding waste generation, the island has yet to find an effective donation strategy which activates their contribution as well towards local conservation efforts.
The Green Nudge:
Researchers Nelson, K. M., Partelow, S., & Schlüter, A. (2019) collaborated with Gili Eco Trust to design the survey and enlisted Gili Eco Trust interns as research assistants. These interns engaged 790 tourists between April 2017 and April 2018 in the harbour waiting area. They introduced themselves as Gili Eco Trust interns working on a tourism research project and, upon tourists‘ consent, distributed a concise survey printed on A4 paper. Additionally, tourists had the opportunity to make monetary donations into a wooden box featuring the Gili Eco Trust logo, held by the research assistant.
Unbeknownst to the tourists, they were randomly assigned to one of six experimental conditions, with the request for a voluntary contribution placed at the bottom of the sheet.
The study included six donation request options: an open-ended option allowing tourists to specify their donation amount, an “anchor points” approach offering preset amounts with space for „Other,“ two default opt-in options suggesting contributions of Rp.10,000 ($0.75USD) and Rp.20,000 ($1.50USD), and two default opt-out options, indicating non-agreement with the recommended Rp.10,000 ($0.75USD) and Rp.20,000 ($1.50USD) contributions to Gili Eco Trust Foundation.
The result: The study revealed that the opt-out options proved to be the most successful as people tend to avoid the extra effort to tick the box. This research underscores the impact of minor interventions in advancing natural environment conservation. Considering the ratio of participants contributing and the amount donated, and taking into account an estimated annual tourist count of approximately 1 million visitors to Gili Trawangan.