This paper examines the influence environmental awareness and recreation experience has on the environmentally-friendly behavior of tourists, and identifies the function of perceived quality as an intermediary variable. By providing a conceptual framework based on the combination of environmental awareness theory and tourist perception theory, and a SEM-based methodology, an in-depth analysis of the influence mechanism was carried out in the Qinghai Lake area of Qinghai province. Results show that there exist differences in the ways environmental awareness influences perceived gains and perceived losses, and the influence coefficient of the former is higher than that of the latter. The perceived gains may promote environmentally friendly behaviors, while the perceived losses have an adverse impact on such behaviors. Moreover, the strength of the adverse impact of the latter is less than the strength of the positive impact of the former. The mediating effect of perceived quality was confirmed in the EA (environmental awareness)-EB (environmental behavior) nexus, within which the influence of tourist environmental awareness on environmentally friendly behavior could be transformed. The mediating effect of perceived quality in the perceived-gains model was more obvious than that in the perceived-losses model. This study highlights the importance of understanding the foundations of environmental behavior related to environmental awareness and tourist perceptions.
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