Pro-environmental tourism: Lessons from adventure, wellness and eco-tourism (AWE) in Costa Rica

Carter A. Hunt, Lucy C. Harbor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Adventure tourism, wellness tourism, and ecotourism (AWE) are growing faster than the global tourism growth rate. There is growing evidence that these forms of travel have disproportionately positive effects on reflection, personal meaning, and pro-environmental outcomes in relation to other forms of tourism. This exploratory case study of an AWE experience is driven by three primary questions: 1) what are the characteristics of the AWE experience that travelers feel are most unique in relation to other travel experiences?; 2) how do visitors describe the influence of AWE on their attitudes, knowledge and behavior?; and 3) are there any characteristics of AWE that can be adapted, adopted, and scaled up to inspire pro-environmental behavior across the tourism industry more broadly? To address these questions, interview data from AWE travelers are inductively analyzed. Findings suggest three principal mechanisms motivating travelers to take up healthy new actions, lifestyle changes, and environmental stewardship pledges: immersive experiences, identity reinforcement, and meaningful reflection opportunities during and after the trip. This study provides an empirical complement to a growing body of conceptual research into the precursors of pro-environmental behavior after nature-based travel. The presented analysis invokes theories that have yet to be fully applied to AWE travel, notably, writings that assess the eudaimonic elements of the tourism experience. Given the indication that AWE inspires pro-environmental action, this research identifies new paths for developing our understanding of how the characteristics of AWE can be adapted, adopted, and scaled up to inspire pro-environmental behavior at other niche tourism operators or across the tourism industry more broadly. Management implication: ● On-site programming and post-trip communications should reinforce desired identity, provide immersive experience, and prompt eudaimonic reflection. ● Reinforcing pro-environmental identity can lead to similar behavioral spillover into social and environmental stewardship actions upon returning home. ● Characteristics of AWE demonstrated here can likely be further adapted, adopted, and scaled up to inspire pro-environmental behavior across the tourism industry more broadly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100202
JournalJournal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism
Volume28
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2019

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ecotourism
tourism
industry
Tourism
Costa Rica
Ecotourism
Adventure tourism
lifestyle
reinforcement
niche
communication

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management

Cite this

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title = "Pro-environmental tourism: Lessons from adventure, wellness and eco-tourism (AWE) in Costa Rica",
abstract = "Adventure tourism, wellness tourism, and ecotourism (AWE) are growing faster than the global tourism growth rate. There is growing evidence that these forms of travel have disproportionately positive effects on reflection, personal meaning, and pro-environmental outcomes in relation to other forms of tourism. This exploratory case study of an AWE experience is driven by three primary questions: 1) what are the characteristics of the AWE experience that travelers feel are most unique in relation to other travel experiences?; 2) how do visitors describe the influence of AWE on their attitudes, knowledge and behavior?; and 3) are there any characteristics of AWE that can be adapted, adopted, and scaled up to inspire pro-environmental behavior across the tourism industry more broadly? To address these questions, interview data from AWE travelers are inductively analyzed. Findings suggest three principal mechanisms motivating travelers to take up healthy new actions, lifestyle changes, and environmental stewardship pledges: immersive experiences, identity reinforcement, and meaningful reflection opportunities during and after the trip. This study provides an empirical complement to a growing body of conceptual research into the precursors of pro-environmental behavior after nature-based travel. The presented analysis invokes theories that have yet to be fully applied to AWE travel, notably, writings that assess the eudaimonic elements of the tourism experience. Given the indication that AWE inspires pro-environmental action, this research identifies new paths for developing our understanding of how the characteristics of AWE can be adapted, adopted, and scaled up to inspire pro-environmental behavior at other niche tourism operators or across the tourism industry more broadly. Management implication: ● On-site programming and post-trip communications should reinforce desired identity, provide immersive experience, and prompt eudaimonic reflection. ● Reinforcing pro-environmental identity can lead to similar behavioral spillover into social and environmental stewardship actions upon returning home. ● Characteristics of AWE demonstrated here can likely be further adapted, adopted, and scaled up to inspire pro-environmental behavior across the tourism industry more broadly.",
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Pro-environmental tourism : Lessons from adventure, wellness and eco-tourism (AWE) in Costa Rica. / Hunt, Carter A.; Harbor, Lucy C.

In: Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, Vol. 28, 100202, 12.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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