Using wildlife tourism and post-visit support to enhance families’ conservation learning at Mon Repos Conservation Park

Karen Hughes (2009). Using wildlife tourism and post-visit support to enhance families’ conservation learning at Mon Repos Conservation Park PhD Thesis, School of Tourism, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Karen Hughes
Thesis Title Using wildlife tourism and post-visit support to enhance families’ conservation learning at Mon Repos Conservation Park
School, Centre or Institute School of Tourism
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2009-08
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr Jan Packer
Prof Roy Ballantyne
Total pages 243
Total colour pages 25
Total black and white pages 218
Subjects 15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Abstract/Summary Abstract Nature-based tourism and wildlife tourism are becoming increasingly popular worldwide and are often promoted as a means of protecting and preserving environmental resources. These forms of tourism are usually accompanied by interpretation such as signs, presentations and activities specifically designed to raise visitors‟ awareness of, and concern for, environmental issues. The rationale behind this approach is that enhancing visitors‟ environmental knowledge, understanding and attitudes prompts the adoption of environmentally responsible behaviours. This is supported by a growing body of research that suggests that environmental interpretation has considerable potential to impact upon visitors‟ conservation knowledge and attitudes, and that well-designed interpretive experiences and messages are an effective means of reducing a range of negative „on-site‟ behaviours such as littering, straying from walkways and feeding wildlife. However, there has been little exploration of whether environmental interpretation influences the uptake of conservation practices „off-site‟ or how the positive impacts of nature-based tourism can be maintained over time. Until recently, tourism research exploring post-visit behaviour has used visitors‟ immediate post-visit intentions as a measure of behaviour change. There is increasing evidence, however, that stated intentions to engage in conservation behaviours rarely manifest as actual behaviour, and that visitors‟ on-site enthusiasm and commitment tends to wane following their visit. The current research aimed to investigate whether providing visitors with post-visit support in the form of learning materials and reminders would prevent this decline and enhance long-term conservation learning (hereby defined as knowledge, attitudes and behaviour). This research explores short and long-term changes in families‟ conservation knowledge, attitudes and behaviour following their visit to Mon Repos Conservation Park, a world renowned turtle rookery in Queensland, Australia. Stage one of the study involved surveying 100 Australian families to identify barriers and benefits associated with six conservation practices (re-using containers, buying minimal packaging, reducing use of plastic bags, picking up litter, recycling and composting). Using Community-based Social Marketing theory, responses informed the development of printed and online post-visit action resources specifically designed to reinforce the wildlife tourism experience and support families‟ conservation learning. Resources focused on the six conservation behaviours outlined above but also included other environmental activities and conservation information of relevance. v In stage two, two hundred Australian families visiting Mon Repos in December 2007 and January 2008 were sampled and assigned to either a treatment group (provided with post-visit action resources and regular contact) or the control group (no post-visit support). All families were asked to complete pre-visit, post-visit and follow-up questionnaires to enable the researcher to ascertain short-term and long-term changes in their conservation knowledge, attitudes and behaviour and to identify factors contributing to the uptake of off-site conservation practices. The final sample comprised the one hundred families who completed all three questionnaires. Comparisons between responses of the control and treatment groups revealed that post-visit action resources reinforced respondents‟ knowledge of threats to turtles and enhanced their attitudes towards protecting wildlife and the natural environment. Families who received post-visit support were also significantly more likely to pick up litter and introduced more conservation actions than those who did not receive this support. Aspects of the post-visit action resources that were particular effective were updates of turtle activity at Mon Repos, emails, fact sheets and the newsletter. Other factors that prompted the adoption of conservation practices included Mon Repos‟ interpretation and the opportunity to view wildlife in its natural surroundings. The influence of other family members and pre-visit knowledge and interest were also found to be associated with subsequent uptake of conservation behaviours. Implications for wildlife interpretive practice and the design and delivery of post-visit support are discussed and recommendations for future research presented.
Keyword Conservation learning
wildlife tourism
family learning
behaviour change
Community-Based Social Marketing
Additional Notes 53, 55, 83, 100, 104-105, 109-110, 116, 119-120, 124, 130, 192, 194-202, 209, 212.

 
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Created: Tue, 24 Nov 2009, 16:06:51 EST by Mrs Karen Hughes on behalf of Library - Information Access Service