#Bucketlist: exploring the motivations of tourists to swim with humpback whales in Niue
Chantal D. Pagel School of Hospitality and Tourism, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand

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Swim-with-whales tourism has become a growing aspect of the marine mammal tourism scene. Several remote island destinations allow for these in-water experiences. Understanding swim-with-whales tourists’ motivations is an important aspect to effectively promoting and managing these interactions. This paper focuses on tourist motivations for swimming with humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Niue. A qualitative research approach using 21 semi-structured in-depth interviews was used to gain these. A thematic approach to understanding the data identified eight themes that describe intrinsic and extrinsic motivations in these whale-swim participants. Of particular interest was the emotional component of engaging in the activity. In contrast to other research on marine wildlife tourism motivations, the importance of learning was absent in this study. These findings highlight the personal and variable nature of individual motivations for participating in commercial whale-swims.

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