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Visitor perspectives of risk management in a natural tourism setting: An application of the Theory of Planned Behaviour

Gstaettner, A.M., Rodger, K. and Lee, D. (2017) Visitor perspectives of risk management in a natural tourism setting: An application of the Theory of Planned Behaviour. Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, 19 . pp. 1-10.

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Effective management of visitor risk in nature-based tourism and recreation settings requires land managers to have a clear understanding of the perspective of the visitor. The Theory of Planned Behaviour is presented as a valuable analytical framework to better understand visitors’ motivation to voluntarily engage in a behaviour classified by land managers as being risky. Using Penguin Island in Western Australia as a study site, visitors’ reasons for walking across the water-covered sandbar which management had identified as risky were explored. Visitors undertaking this behaviour were interviewed using the theory as a conceptual guide to understand influencing visitors’ decision making process. Results revealed that the activity of walking the sandbar was an experience offering instrumental as well as affective benefits. Subjective norms also influenced visitors’ decision to engage in the behaviour. Even though the decision to perform the behaviour was perceived as a free and deliberate choice, visitors approved management guidance stemming from perceptions of shared responsibility for safety at the site. Our research illustrates that the Theory of Planned Behaviour is a useful tool to identify important insights into individual and situational aspects of visitor behaviour in risky situations. Management implications Managing visitor safety in Australian protected areas is a complex interplay between risk and responsibility. Using the Theory of Planned Behaviour as a conceptual framework, the behaviour investigated was disseminated into three distinct elements on which future intervention strategies can be built. • Visitors’ perceived benefits derived from pursuing the risky activity outweighed perceived risks and visitors showed a personal detachment from danger. • Visitors were encouraged to follow others already pursuing the activity, because seeing others led to the belief that it must be safe. • Visitors felt that responsibility for their own safety was shared due to the high presence of management including signs, life guards, and commercial operations.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier Ltd
Copyright: © 2017 Elsevier Ltd
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