Department of Forestry and Environmental Science University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka
Richard P. Vlosky
School of Renewable Natural Resources Louisiana State University Agricultural Center
UNDERSTANDING ECOTOURIST BEHAVIOR: THE CASE OF FOREST-BASED ECOTOURISM IN SRI LANKA
Ecotourism is a fast-evolving sector in tourism. As consumers of ecotourism products become more diverse, ecotourism operators are facing the difficulty of meeting the needs and expectations of a heterogeneous client base. Therefore, a thorough understanding of ecotourist behavior has become important from the ecotourism management and marketing perspectives. Using forest-based recreational areas in Sri Lanka as the geographic focus, this study proposes an ecotourism behavioral model based on Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behavior, incorporating knowledge and satisfaction as predictors of ecotourism behavior. Results suggest that knowledge, attitudes, social influence and perceived behavioral control are important determinants of an individual’s intention to participate in ecotourism, and his/her actual ecotourist behavior. Satisfaction plays a key mediating role in the model by bridging the four determinants: knowledge, attitudes, social influence and perceived behavioral control with behavioral intentions. Knowledge had a significant and positive direct effect on behavioral intentions and behavior. Implications of the study are discussed in the context of ecotourism provider planning and management actions and strategies.
Key words: Visitors, attitudes, motivations, satisfaction, theory of planned behavior
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