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Research Arctic Centre Projects PT-REPAIR GUIDE-BEST


Growing Understanding of Individual Drivers of Expectations and Behaviours to Enhance Sustainable Tourism in Antarctica
Project logo design: Crystal Leung

Tour operators often market a visit to the Antarctic as an experience that creates ambassadors of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean. The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) emphasises that visitors returning from the region often make changes in their lives by the mere experience of awe and respect when encountering surreal Antarctic landscapes, flora, and fauna in combination with the educational program offered to the tourists. From a conceptual perspective, IAATO’s narrative appears to summarise behavioural shifts in visitors towards more pro-environmental values, attitudes and behaviours. Addressing the overarching question of how pro-environmental behaviours of Antarctic visitors can be facilitated, and negative environmental impacts can be reduced, GUIDE-BEST will result in a better understanding of the drivers of expectations and changes in visitors’ and guides’ attitudes and behaviours through their Antarctic experiences during and after visits, while contextualising these experiences against the modi operandi and development of the Antarctic tourism sector. Tourist guides play a key but understudied role in protecting Antarctic and Southern Ocean ecosystems through visitor education, the communication strategies they adopt, how they relate to the tourists and the environment, and their own pro-environmental behaviour. GUIDE-BEST aims to understand the complex interactions between spatial expansion, trip characteristics, intensification and diversification of tourism operations as well as how these affect visitor experience and, ultimately, tourist behaviour. Such an in-depth exploration of tourist behaviour will then lend itself to improving our understanding of the role and nuanced meaning of Antarctic ambassadorship. Finally, our research explicitly entails the development of recommendations and tools for Antarctic tourism management and regulation. The knowledge gained from the project will be used to develop and test strategies to reduce negative environmental impacts in situ and strengthen positive behavioural change in the Antarctic and beyond.

The project is led by Annette Scheepstra of the Arctic Centre.

Co-leads are Linda Steg (UoG), Daniella Liggett (University of Cantabury) and Yu-Fai Leung (NC State University).

This project has received funding from NWO's PT-REPAIR programme under number NWA.20.1435.003.

Last modified:10 July 2024 5.46 p.m.