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Conservation and Education Benefits of Interpretation on Marine Wildlife Tours

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Marine wildlife tourism can provide a range of education and conservation benefits for visitors. These benefits derive from close personal encounters with marine wildlife and visitor learning about marine species and ocean environments. There has been limited assessment of marine wildlife tourism experiences and educational programs to identify whether these increase tourists' knowledge, promoting attitudinal shifts and also lifestyle changes that aid marine conservation and help to conserve marine wildlife. Similarly, there has been little evaluation of on-site and longer term conservation intentions, or behaviors, of visitors that benefit marine wildlife and environments. This article reviews the education and conservation benefits of marine wildlife experiences in Australia using Orams' framework of indicators to manage marine tourism. The key indicator for tourists assessed in this article is behavior/lifestyle change that benefits marine species, along with three indicators of conservation outcomes for marine environments. Information is drawn from selected case studies of research on guided tourist encounters with whales, dolphins, and marine turtles from 1996 to 2007, mainly in Australia. This analysis found tourist learning during mediated encounters with marine wildlife contributes to proenvironmental attitudes and improved on-site behavior changes, with some longer term intentions to engage in conservation actions that benefit marine species.
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Keywords: CONSERVATION ACTIONS; EDUCATION BENEFITS; ENVIRONMENTAL BEHAVIOR; INTERPRETATION; MARINE WILDLIFE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-06-01

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  • Tourism in Marine Environments is an interdisciplinary journal dealing with a variety of management issues in marine settings. It is a scientific journal that draws upon the expertise of academics and practitioners from various disciplines related to the marine environment, including tourism, marine science, geography, social sciences, psychology, environmental studies, economics, marketing, and many more.
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