What makes for memorable wildlife encounters? Revelations from 'serious' wildlife tourists

This source preferred by Susanna Curtin

Authors: Curtin, S.C.

Journal: Journal of Ecotourism

Volume: 9

Pages: 149-168

ISSN: 1472-4049

DOI: 10.1080/14724040903071969

A meaningful understanding of the constituents of a memorable wildlife encounter is required to underpin wildlife tour operators’ and destinations’ marketing, product development and management strategies based on the premise that consumers’ future expectations and behaviours are often based on memories of prior experiences. To this end, this paper represents the results of a qualitative study based on the stories and experiences of ‘serious’ wildlife tourists’. When asked to describe their most memorable wildlife encounters, participants gave a wide range of responses which depended upon a number of key factors such as the charisma of the species, spontaneity, seeing something for the first-time, the degree of close proximity, embodied experiences and species congregated in large numbers. On tour, ‘wildlife moments’ can vary in duration from lasting only a matter of seconds to long undisturbed views of wildlife. They can also come in close succession making the importance of what is being seen lost in the moment; it is only later that the true meaning becomes ‘hardwired’. Surprisingly, unforgettable wildlife experiences are not necessarily made up of the exotic. Highlights can also include endemic birds and animals which visit participants’ wildlife-friendly gardens.

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Authors: Curtin, S.

Journal: Journal of Ecotourism

Volume: 9

Issue: 2

Pages: 149-168

ISSN: 1472-4049

DOI: 10.1080/14724040903071969

A meaningful understanding of the constituents of a memorable wildlife encounter is required to underpin wildlife tour operators' and destinations' marketing, product development and management strategies based on the premise that consumers' future expectations and behaviours are often based on memories of prior experiences. To this end, this paper presents the results of a qualitative study based on the stories and experiences of 'serious' wildlife tourists. When asked to describe their most memorable wildlife encounters, participants gave a wide range of responses which depended upon a number of key factors such as the charisma of the species, spontaneity, seeing something for the first time, the degree of close proximity, embodied experiences and species congregated in large numbers. On tour, 'wildlife moments' can vary in duration from lasting only a matter of seconds to long undisturbed views of wildlife. They can also come in close succession making the importance of what is being seen lost in the moment; it is only later that the true meaning becomes 'hard-wired'. Surprisingly, unforgettable wildlife experiences are not necessarily made up of the exotic. Highlights can also include endemic birds and animals which visit participants' wildlife-friendly gardens. © 2010 Taylor & Francis.

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