Turning wildlife experiences into conservation action: can white shark cagedive tourism influence conservation behaviour?
Apps, K, Dimmock, K & Huveneers, C 2018, 'Turning wildlife experiences into conservation action: can white shark cagedive tourism influence conservation behaviour?', Marine Policy, vol. 88, pp. 108-115.
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Wildlife tourism is often promoted as an activity which supports conservation by enhancing environmental knowledge, attitudes, and behaviour through interpretative messaging and personal experiences with wildlife. Despite these potential linkages, evidence to support such claims is limited. In order for wildlife tourism operators to build a motivated constituency supporting conservation, elements of the tour which contribute to positive attitudes and environmental behaviour must be identified. This study investigated the attitudes and environmental behaviour of 136 wildlife tourists following a white shark cage-dive experience in South Australia. Responses to an online survey revealed a significant increase in participation for seven of the eight conservation-related behaviours explored, and a positive shift in participants’ understanding, awareness, attitudes, and concern for sharks following the tour. Results suggest that emotional engagement during the tour is associated with enhancing participants’ knowledge and attitude towards sharks. Recommendations for complementing the emotional response to viewing wildlife, with interpretative communication, are discussed.