Using web and mobile technology to motivate pro-environmental action after a nature-based tourism experience

Mele Wheaton, Nicole M. Ardoin, Carter Hunt, Janel S. Schuh, Matthew Kresse, Claire Menke, William Durham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Nature-based tourism provides an ideal context for motivating pro-environmental action, as it draws travellers interested in the natural world and showcases unique, and often threatened, environments. This study examines efforts to motivate environmentally related behaviour in tourists' everyday lives using a technology-based intervention following an elephant seal viewing tour at California's Año Nuevo State Park. A total of 362 visitors completed pre-tour and post-tour surveys, with 94 visitors completing a final survey three months after the tour. We found that, although the intervention had little influence on conservation action overall, it was effective for a social media-related action. Post-tour conservation actions were significantly affected by emotional connection to wildlife during the tour and repeat visitation to either the same or another state park. We found that visitors' connectedness to nature increased during the three-hour tour, but returned to pre-visit levels three months later. Practical implications include that parks should encourage repeat visits, suggest an assortment of other experiences that support connecting to nature, and link their conservation messaging to visitors' close, personal, and emotional experiences with fauna. We suggest that one simple, yet effective, way to do this is through maintaining the visitor–park experience through a social media community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)594-615
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Sustainable Tourism
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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