Date of Award

2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Leisure Science Honours

School

School of Marketing, Tourism and Leisure

Faculty

Faculty of Business and Law

First Advisor

Dr Jeremy Northcote

Second Advisor

Dr Ruth Sibon

Abstract

As environmental issues become more prevalent in today' s society, natural area managers must find ways to balance the increased popularity of natural areas for recreation with environmental protection and conservational goals. One popular method to achieve this balance is through restrictions. Sanctuary zones are one type of restriction and are generally designated areas that prohibit extractive uses of natural resources, such as fishing. This study qualitatively explores the issues that affect a repeat tourist's tolerance threshold for changes to their recreational activities caused by restrictions within the Ningaloo Marine Park. This study seeks to assist natural area managers to make better and more informed decisions by understanding a repeat tourist's threshold for change. Initial exploratory and descriptive research was deemed appropriate for this research project because there is little empirical data on a repeat tourist's tolerance threshold to change. The study took place in the Ningaloo region, Exmouth, where potential participants were identified and approached. Semi-structured interviews were used to gather in-depth information from participants, which were audio-recorded and later transcribed for coding. The key results and findings are presented in four sections. These sections are: current recreational pursuits, social environment, natural environment and management techniques. The sections each have two or more defined sub-sections, which explain the findings and present relevant quotations from the data collection. The first section focuses on the current recreational pursuits of repeat tourists and begins by outlining demographic information about the study participants, which were established during the interview. It then discusses reasons for visitation, the importance of travel, proximity and access, and localisation. The focus of the second section is upon the social environment. It examines the impact of tourism on the repeat tourists' threshold of tolerability to change and their perceptions of themselves as tourists. Issues surrounding the natural environment are explored in the third section. It describes the growth in environmental awareness and the importance of the wilderness experience. The final section discusses the management techniques of the Ningaloo region and addresses issues surrounding restrictions and interpretation as well as the conflict between stakeholders and tolerance to sanctuary zones. One of the major themes that emerged from these areas was the importance of individual localisation, place attachment and intrinsic benefits. Localisation was enhanced by a sense of place and contributed to a perceived ownership towards the environment. Any restrictions affecting a repeat tourist's localisation and diminishing their perceived intrinsic benefits would encounter negative responses to change and, thus, tolerance. The repeat tourists' recreational activities also encompassed the natural surroundings, making the wilderness experience essential to the overall enjoyment and intrinsic value of the Ningaloo region. Some repeat tourists did not view themselves as tourists, and managers must take this into account when consulting stakeholders about sanctuary zone changes. There are also negative connotations linked to commercialisation and development as well as frustration with the perceived lack of cooperation between management groups. If managers understand the issues that affect a repeat tourist's tolerance threshold then they can make educated decisions about restrictions and sanctuary zones. Managers will be able to predict the potential responses of repeat tourists, hence enabling a balance between repeat tourist satisfaction and conservational goals.

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