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Hamilton College

Publication Date

Spring 2009

Program Name

Australia: Sustainability and the Environment

Abstract

Ecotourism is the fastest growing sector of the tourism industry, but there has been a lack of studies assessing the tour operators’ views on the environment of the area of their operation, and of the effectiveness of their interpretation methods. This study focuses on Moreton Island for its relatively undisturbed environment and restricted accessibility.. Interviews with a former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employee, representative of a local conservation group, and multiple tour operators were conducted to assess the knowledge of tour operators on the environmental issues of Moreton Island, while pre-visit and post-visit surveys were conducted with Moreton Island visitors onboard the ferry to assess the effects of participation in tours on the island. Surveys of environmental volunteers were also taken in search of insight into potentially effective interpretation methods.

The results showed that awareness of environmental issues greatly varied across the different tour operators, but that all parties agreed on the minimal impacts the tour operations cause on the island. Effectiveness of tour operations in affecting their customers’ attitude towards the natural environment was inconclusive. However, it was found that the labeling of tours as an ecotour is minimally important in Moreton Island tourists’ decision in choosing a tour, while indications of tourists desiring tour guides to relate the experiences back to the home region of the tourists were found. Further research is needed to clarify the findings of this study.

Disciplines

Natural Resources and Conservation | Tourism

 

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