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 17: The intrinsic motivations and psychological benefits of eco and wildlife tourism experiences

Susanna Curtin


Tourism based upon natural environments and wild animals is a major and expanding part of the tourism industry (Mintel, 2008; Rodger, Moore & Newsome, 2009; UNEP, 2006). Tour operators and destinations with iconic, accessible and semi-predictable wildlife have been quick to include wildlife tourism opportunities in their marketing and product portfolios in order to differentiate destinations and add value to tourist experiences. Many forms of destination marketing are thus proliferated with images of iconic, place-specific species that signify a nun spoilt environment and unique, authentic and novel tourist activities. This culminates in animals being both symbolic of place as well as being an added interest or focus. For the species and/or habitats that are in decline, wildlife tourism also affords tourists an opportunity to see iconic mega fauna while it still exists (Lemelin, Dawson, Stewart, Maher & Lueck, 2010). Wildlife viewing can be an educational and emotional activity; therefore, both affective and cognitive motives underpin and shape the tourist experience and provide several psychological benefits (Schanzel & McIntosh, 2000; Zeppel & Muloin, 2007).

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