Is there a place for education and interpretation in shark-based tourism?

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Apps, K, Dimmock, K, Lloyd, DJ & Huveneers, C 2017, 'Is there a place for education and interpretation in shark-based tourism?', Tourism Recreation Research, vol. 42, issue 3, pp. 327-343.

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Interpretive encounters are a major component of many wildlife tourism experiences and can make significant contributions to tourist satisfaction and pro-conservation attitudes. The growth of shark-based tourism has provided numerous opportunities to contribute to conservation by exposing tourists to sharks in their natural habitat, provide them with education and interpretation programmes that dispel myths, and draw attention to the threats facing shark populations. However, little research has focused on the motivations and expectations of marine tourists in relation to on-tour interpretation, particularly within industries linked to adrenalin rush. The present study explored the role of on-tour education and interpretation during a white shark cage-dive tour in South Australia. Participant surveys sought to answer the questions, do cage-dive tourists want to be educated and what do they want to learn? Results support the demand for additional on-tour information focused on shark biology, habits, and conservation, suggesting participants want more than an adrenalin rush. The findings contribute to understanding the importance of education in shark-based tourism as the cage-dive participant experience and conservation potential of the tour can be enhanced with the addition of a structured interpretation programme.

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