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Profiling Scuba Divers to Assess Their Potential for the Management of Temperate Marine Protected Areas: A Conceptual Model

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Scuba diving tourism may both positively and negatively affect the natural environment, as well as human economies and societies. Marine protected areas (MPAs) in particular attract scuba diving tourism. Even though the activities of scuba divers could conflict with the conservation agendas of MPAs, they also potentially could endorse and support the management of MPAs. Thus, depending on the types of interactions that develop between scuba diving tourism and MPAs, more or less rigid management actions may be required. Although studies in temperate locations are rare, there is evidence that scuba divers in these locations tend to be more experienced, knowledgeable about local issues, responsible towards the environment, and willing to participate in stewardship, compared with divers at tropical destinations. This study assessed the profile of scuba divers at a temperate MPA in Italy, to determine which types of diving management actions are needed, and to understand how the potential of scuba divers could be exploited for the management of temperate MPAs. Data on the profile of 279 scuba divers in the Portofino MPA, Italy, were collected during the summer of 2015. Scuba divers in Portofino are generally experienced, loyal, satisfied, aware of the code of underwater conduct, knowledgeable of ecosystems in the MPA, and willing to participate in marine conservation activities. Although some important considerations must be taken into account regarding the management of scuba diving activities, a case is made that scuba divers could exert many positive impacts on MPAs. A conceptual model of the conservation-oriented behavior of scuba divers and its impacts both inside and outside MPAs is proposed. The positive messages and actions of scuba divers inside MPAs appear to exert potentially positive effects on other diving destinations outside the MPAs.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 16, 2018

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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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