Since ecotourism was popularized in the late 1980s, a focus in scholarly writings on the topic has been its dual in situ mandate of biodiversity conservation and community development. As visitor education gained attention, so too did research on how nature-based aspects of ecotourist experiences influence ex situ pro-environmental. Yet, researchers have largely neglected culture-based aspects of ecotourism experiences, overlooking the role that experience with communities, people, and local culture have on visitor outcomes, thus bypassing other important sustainability-related outcomes (e.g. systems thinking, humanitarianism). The purpose of this psychological assessment of recent traveler experiences is to explore the distinct influence of the natural and cultural aspects of travel on traveler’s understanding of sustainability, and whether these influences are because of particular affective experiences during travel. This study supports the proposal that both nature and cultural-based experiences contribute to sustainability insights by fostering meaning and self-discovery (i.e. eudaimonia). Our findings suggest that the positive contribution that natural and cultural components of tourism makes toward sustainability insights may be enhanced when eudaimonic experiences are incorporated into tourism experiences. This work thus implies that more explicit incorporation of eudaimonic elements into the design of (eco-) tourism experiences will increase visitors’ sustainability insights.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management