Linking natural resource management to tourist satisfaction: a study of Australia's Great Barrier Reef
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This paper challenges the accepted tenet that conservation creates attractive tourist experiences and high satisfaction rates, and explores the nature and value of partnerships between protected area managers and tourism operators. It develops a model to examine the linkages between natural resource management and nature-based tourism industry performance. The model uses input measures (such as the expertise and financial resources put into maintaining a healthy ecosystem), output measures (visitor perceptions of the environment and their experience of it) and outcome measures (satisfaction scores), to examine these linkages. Whilst the links between input, outputs and outcomes appear relatively weak, results suggest that operators can strengthen those links through high service quality, effective interpretation, in order to produce higher visitor satisfaction. The relationship between the natural environment itself and satisfaction was less clear, perhaps symptomatic of the "messiness" of protected area tourism systems where cause and effects are not always clear. The study suggests that perceptions of the natural environment and the nature-based tourist experience are best mediated through the tour operators' input into creating and maintaining quality staff, to complement and demonstrate inputs by protected area managers, within the context of long-term partnerships between natural resource management and nature-based tourism.
Journal of Sustainable Tourism
© 2012 Taylor & Francis. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal website for access to the definitive, published version.