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Lookup NU author(s): Professor Clare Fitzsimmons
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A considerable challenge to coastal managers in tourism settings is to provide visitor opportunities to observe pristine coral reef systems, while simultaneously protecting them from tourist impacts. Most dive area management strategies are designed around the concept of restricting numbers of visitors, in a variety of ways, or diverting their attention from pristine areas, to "sacrificial" sites, such as artificial reefs. For this to be economically and socially effective, as well as ecologically successful, further information is required, indicating to what level such policies are acceptable to divers. Insight into the relative importance of a variety of attributes preferred by dive tourists, and trade-offs acceptable to divers, are required. Established interviewing and attitude assessment techniques were used to identify which pristine coral reef area attributes and associated resort facilities most greatly contributed to ecotourist enjoyment at a Fijian dive resort. No significant increases in diver enjoyment were detected at sites representing "pristine reef," compared to more degraded inner lagoon sites. Additionally, managerial and social factors were found to contribute significantly more to tourists' overall trip enjoyment than ecological and environmental factors, and quality of the diving experience. Initial indications are that diver satisfaction can be achieved with less than pristine reefs, and site substitution policies should be accepted by divers. Management strategies attempting to offset degraded dive attributes by enhancing alternative aspects of the holiday environment are also likely to succeed. Effective implementation of policies based on these results has the potential to result in more efficient economic exploitation of reef resources, minimal economic loss, and increased dive industry sustainability. © 2009 Cognizant Comm. Corp.
Author(s): Fitzsimmons C
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: Tourism in Marine Environments
ISSN (print): 1544-273X
Publisher: Cognizant Communication Corp.
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