Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Choosing Ecotourism Destinations for Vacations: A Decision-Making Process

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Choosing Ecotourism Destinations for Vacations: A Decision-Making Process

Article excerpt

Abstract

Although ecotourism is fast growing industry information on travels to different ecotourism destinations are often not easily accessible. This paper reports reviews of literature on eco-tourists behaviour regarding choice of destination for ecotourism and factors influencing the choice. The importance of information in marketing of ecotourism and eco-tourists' satisfaction are discussed. The eco-tourists who are visiting a destination for the first time go through all stages in the decision-making process and extensive information search before choosing the destination to visit. Eco-tourists who have visited the destination in the past go through only some of the stages and limited information search. Eco-tourists' choice of an ecotourism destination are influenced by factors such as, the family, friends, societal values, preferences, safety and promotions related to the destination. Decision regarding re-visiting an ecotourism destination depends on the level of satisfaction that the eco-tourist experienced during his or her first time visit to the destination. Eco-tourists who are satisfied with the ecotourism destination during their first time visit are likely to re-visit the destination but those who are not satisfied are not likely to re-visit. For ecotourism managers to sustain the inflow of eco-tourists to different ecotourism destinations and revenue in the ecotourism industry it is important for the managers to strive towards meeting expectations of eco-tourists and make information regarding the destinations more accessible.

Keywords: consumer behaviour, choice, ecotourism, eco-tourists, decision-making, information search

1. Introduction

Ecotourism is a responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people (TIES, 1990). It involves visits to destinations where animals, plants and cultural heritage are the main attractions (Sadry, 2009; Ezebilo et al., 2010). Ecotourism accounts for a larger share of some countries gross domestic product e.g. Kenya, Madagascar, Nepal, Thailand and Malaysia (Isaacs, 2000). There are more than five million eco-tourists and most of them are from North America, Europe and Australia (Kamauro, 1996). Eco-tourists (i.e. visitors to ecotourism sites) often have varied demographic characteristics, personal backgrounds, preferences and motivations (Ezebilo et al., 2010). They can be classified based on motivations and preferences (Wight, 1996), environmental attitudes (Uysal et al., 1994), benefit segmentation (Palacio & McCool, 1997), and cultural values (Blamey & Braithwaite, 1997). Some literatures have also established a relationship between individual and group values, choice of product and eco-tourists behaviour (Lawson et al., 1996). There are many factors influencing ecotourism supply and demand (Assael, 1995; Sharpley, 1996). For example, eco-tourists tend to be more concerned about safety, security and anti-stress as a main consideration for travel (Jamieson, 2001; Klanarongran, 2001). In response to these demands most ecotourism destinations promote anti-stress-based tourism (Douglas et al., 2001). Some studies (Barke, 2004; Frochot, 2005) have shown that eco-tourists represent individuals with different values. Eco-tourists have different values and lifestyles, which may have effect on their demand e.g. most North American eco-tourists look for cultural and educational values (Plog, 1974; Hobson & Ko, 1994), Singaporean eco-tourists seek for novelty and business (Swarbrooke & Horner, 1999). Most European eco-tourists want nature to be prominent in their vacations (Poon, 1994). In order to meet the changing eco-tourist demands most countries which mostly depend on ecotourism for revenue have developed various ecotourism products such as spas, and natural-based resorts. For example, Thailand has developed many spas and anti-stress-based tourism sites to supply the eco-tourists demand (Circle of Asia, 2003). …

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