International Handbook on Ecotourism
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International Handbook on Ecotourism

Edited by Roy Ballantyne and Jan Packer

This Handbook brings together contributions from over forty international experts in the field of ecotourism. It provides a critical review and discussion of current issues and concepts – it challenges readers to consider the boundaries of what ecotourism is, and could be. The Handbook provides practical information regarding the business of ecotourism; insights into ecotourist behaviour and visitor experiences; and reflections on the practice of ecotourism in a range of different contexts.
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Chapter 11: Visitor behaviour in ecotourism settings

Philip L. Pearce


In contemporary psychology, as well as in applied areas such as consumer studies, the term behaviour embraces both the experiential world of the individual (decisions, emotions, beliefs, attitudes, memories) and their overt behaviour (acts, interactions and movements). The full scope of these interests is daunting. For the purposes of reducing the scale of the task, this review attends only to what we can see visitors doing. This attention to overt behaviour should not be taken as implying that the inner world of the visitor is not important (Cutler & Carmichael, 2010; Pearce, 2011, pp. 5–6). For a consideration of the experiential world of the visitor other reviews in this Handbook offer directions of interest. Furthermore and also in accord with the orientation of this volume, we are most interested in observable visitor behaviour in ecotourism settings: that is, locations that can be classified as strong in natural and cultural values and where some clear interpretive signals are provided that these settings matter (Black & Weiler, 2003, p. 22; Garrod,2003). The trajectory of the review proceeds by considering how information is collected about overt visitor behaviour. Next, five core considerations are presented. These defining issues are, in turn, the value of studying the topic of what visitors do; the interpretation of the intentionality of behaviours; the power of exploring the use of space in ecotourism settings; and the analysis of behaviour over time.

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