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Nature-based tourism development in coastal wetlands of Sri Lanka: An Importance–Performance analysis at Maduganga Mangrove Estuary

Marasinghe, S., Perera, P., Simpson, G.D. and Newsome, D. (2021) Nature-based tourism development in coastal wetlands of Sri Lanka: An Importance–Performance analysis at Maduganga Mangrove Estuary. Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, 33 . Art. 100345.

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Understanding visitor satisfaction is vital for ensuring the long-term sustainability of nature-based tourism experiences at high demand coastal destinations. The Ramsar listed Maduganga Mangrove Estuary (MME) on the west coast of Sri Lanka is such a destination. With the aim of enhancing the sustainability of tourism at MME, a self-reporting structured questionnaire and Importance Performance Analysis (IPA) were employed to explore visitor satisfaction with 16 attributes of the popular nature-focused boat tours. Respondents rated ‘to be in a natural setting’ as their main motivation for visiting this destination (73%), followed by ‘to use free time’ (60%), and ‘to be with family or friends’ (60%). Relaxing/fun/enjoyment (90%), enjoying boat rides (85%), and photography (73%) were the most popular activities reported by visitors. Respondents were generally satisfied with their boat tours, however, there was opportunity to enhance visitor satisfaction. Gap Analysis IPA identified nine instances where respondents ranked the performance of attributes as being significantly below their expectations (i.e. Performance < Importance). Respondents rated ‘cleanliness of the river’ as the worst performing attribute of their tour. ‘Feeling safe’ on the boat tours, ‘information about visitor safety’, interpretive aspects of the experience and the amount of wildlife seen also performed below visitor expectations. The novel application of IPA to quantitatively assess visitor expectations and attribute performance at the internationally significant MME coastal wetland reported in this case study demonstrates the contribution this technique can make to enhancing visitor satisfaction and management actions to ensure the sustainability of nature-based tourism in Sri Lanka.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Environmental and Conservation Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier Ltd
Copyright: © 2020 Elsevier Ltd.
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