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Environmental Concern and Responsibility among Nature Tourists in Oulanka PAN Park, Finland

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Following the growth of nature-based tourism, “pristine” and remote areas, such as national parks, attract tourists in Scandinavia. Various international initiatives and certification programs, such as PAN Parks in Europe, have been introduced to promote sustainable nature-based tourism. Often tourists are also given responsibility to prevent negative environmental impacts of their travel. This paper examines the role of nature tourists in developing sustainable tourism: what expectations do tourists have on nature and sustainability in national parks, how do they consider environmental aspects when travelling, and how do they respond to ecolabels and certifications? Thirty interviews of mainly Finnish tourists were conducted in Oulanka National Park, one of PAN Parks certified parks in Finland. The results show that these nature tourists do not form a homogenous group, yet they have various views on environmental issues, which differentiate them from other nature tourists and have an influence on their travelling behavior. Thus, four types of tourists were identified on the basis of their environmental concern and responsibility. The results emphasize the role of regulation, incentives and guidance in developing sustainability in tourist destinations and companies; tourists do not necessarily set high demands as long as negative impacts do not ruin their perception of pristine nature.

Keywords: Nature tourist; certification; ecolabel; environmental concern; environmental responsibility

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Oulanka Research Station/Thule Institute, University of Oulu, Finland

Publication date: 2011-04-01

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