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Reasons for visitor dissatisfaction with wildlife tourism experiences at highly visited national parks in Sri Lanka

Prakash, S.L., Perera, P., Newsome, D., Kusuminda, T. and Walker, O. (2018) Reasons for visitor dissatisfaction with wildlife tourism experiences at highly visited national parks in Sri Lanka. Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, 25 . pp. 102-112.

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Viewing of wildlife is a significant component of Sri Lanka's tourism industry with foreign visitation accounting for the larger share of income derived from national parks. Visitors posting reviews of their experiences in social media and travel websites is a growing global phenomenon. Such reviews serve as reliable and unbiased information sources for potential travellers as well as contemporary travel researchers. This study examined the major causes of visitor dissatisfaction during wildlife tourism experiences at five highly visited NPs in Sri Lanka. We examined 206 negative reviews posted in the travel website TripAdvisor. Analysis found 15 major causes of visitor dissatisfaction with nearly 75% of negative reviews linked to park management related problems, with the remainder stressing tour-operator related issues. Our findings raise concerns that require urgent attention by park management in order to foster more positive visitor experiences and sustainable tourism in popular Sri Lankan national parks

Management implications: Managers need to ‘hear’ what tourists are saying with a view to enhancing visitor experiences and improving visitor management in protected areas. Major causes of visitor dissatisfaction are directly under the control of park management or tour operators. Ethical conduct, legal compliance, visitor safety and communication are key areas that need attention. Overcrowded conditions and congestion at wildlife sightings requires the introduction of maximum limits to reduce the number of vehicles entering high visitation parks. Necessary actions include improving professional standards of tour operators and guides via education and training for internal and contracted staff.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier Ltd
Copyright: © 2018 Elsevier Ltd
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