The purpose of this research is to apply visitor employed photography (VEP) to recreation management to develop indicators of the wildlife viewing experience. VEP and semi-structured interviews were used at a popular polar bear viewing destination in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (Arctic Refuge). Visitors to the Arctic Refuge who participated in an on-site semi-structured interview were asked to participate in a VEP procedure after their visit. A sample of 24 semi-structured interviews, and 17 VEP responses were collected and compared to test the utility of VEP to develop indicators of the wildlife viewing experience. Results indicate that VEP offers additional and unique types of information from semi-structured interviews for identifying indicators of the wildlife viewing experience. Potential indicators that emerged from VEP include ‘time spent on the water viewing polar bears’, and the ‘number of vessels in view.’ Indicators emerged exclusively from the VEP procedure, demonstrating the utility of VEP for recreation management and scientific inquiry.
- Interagency visitor use management framework
- Normative theory
- Park management
- Visitor employed photography
- Wildlife viewing