On the edge of the world: examining pro-environmental outcomes of last chance tourism in Kaktovik, Alaska

Lauren B. Miller, Jeffrey C. Hallo, Robert G. Dvorak, Jessica P. Fefer, Brian A. Peterson, Matthew T.J. Brownlee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Travel to impact-sensitive destinations has been on the rise in recent years. Coined “last chance tourism” (LCT), visitors are increasingly coming to these destinations to see them before they are gone. To offset their presence, which ultimately contributes to site degradation, a possible positive outcome of these LCT experiences is the creation of environmental ambassadors. Utilizing data collected from 189 visitor surveys, the purpose of this study is to provide a basis for understanding the visitor experience and outcomes of boat-based polar bear viewing in the Kaktovik area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. A typology of visitors was created based on importance of various trip elements, and demographic and trip characteristics were examined by resulting groups. Analyses show that the polar bear viewing experience does have the potential to increase visitors’ pro-environmental and ambassadorship behavioral intentions. Regression analyses revealed, for the sample population, that total minutes educated and the occurrence of an epiphany had a positive impact on visitors’ reported pro-environmental behavior and ambassadorship intentions. Surprisingly, seeing more polar bears was negatively related to these same intentions. Implications for the management of similar experiences are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1703-1722
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Sustainable Tourism
Volume28
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

Keywords

  • Ambassadorship
  • Arctic
  • climate change
  • environmental epiphanies
  • environmental interpretation
  • last chance tourism
  • pro-environmental behaviors

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