Although sustainability has been widely addressed within tourism research in the last decades, the debate on this complex and multidimensional topic is still far from its conclusion and current literature is moving the focus from theory building to theory testing. Since pressures on natural resources preservation are continuously increasing, the aim of this study is to investigate which are the emergent environmental behaviors adopted by hotel companies and the motivations that lie behind their implementation. The empirical research is conducted through semi-structured interviews to hotel managers operating in a tourist destination on lake Garda (Italy). According to previous literature, we argue that perceptions about sustainability are still not univocal among hoteliers, and that the motivations behind sustainable behaviors are more than often a compromise between two opposing forces: institutional and instrumental, i.e. legitimacy and profitability. Moreover, since environmental tools are not yet largely adopted in the hospitality industry, we also presume that sustainability is an innovative practice from which it is still possible to derive social and economic advantages. The present study offers some useful contributions from a theoretical perspective, since it adds to the current literature on sustainability by originally connecting this compelling topic to the rooted neo-institutional theoretical framework, but also some practical implications for all the subjects involved in the hospitality industry by enhancing the awareness on this critical issue.
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