New Economic Insights and Case Studies
Chapter 7: Are Tourists Rational? Destination Decisions and Other Results from a Survey of Visitors to a North Queensland Natural Site – Jourama Falls
7.1 INTRODUCTION Neoclassical economic theory assumes that consumers are rational and well informed, and this theory has provided the basis for many economic models of tourist and recreational demand. For example, as pointed out in Chapter 4, this theory provides the underpinning of the travel cost method of determining the demand and valuation of outdoor recreational sites as well as valuation of natural sites based on tourist demand to visit these. However, there has been virtually no empirical study of the extent to which the above assumptions of neoclassical theory are satisfied in tourist contexts. In addition, very little consideration has been give to how bounded rationality (Tisdell, 1996) is likely to influence the way in which tourists make decisions about which destinations to visit, especially in cases where these destinations have not been visited before. In some cases, the majority of visitors (tourists) to a natural site have not visited it previously. Therefore, it is an experiential good for such visitors. We wanted to select a natural site for a survey of visitors where it was likely that the majority of visitors would not have visited it previously. Therefore, the Jourama Falls section of Paluma Range National Park in north Queensland (located between Ingham and Townsville) was selected for this purpose. It is part of the World Heritage-listed Wet Tropics area. Our hunch that it would have a majority of first-time visitors was, in fact, proven to be correct. The survey of visitors to Jourama Falls had several purposes,...
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