Investigating Personal Learning in an Ecotourism Setting
It has been proposed that for ecotourism to be the sustainable response to mass tourism, it should not only support local communities and their environments but also educate visitors. This study aimed to understand visitors' perceptions of personal impacts, including personal learning, in an ecotourism setting and why these impacts differed between visitors. To fully comprehend the nature of personal impacts, I took a primarily qualitative approach, using participant observation and a series of survey questionnaires. This study reveals that the visitor's construction of personal meaning is achieved through the interaction between the visitor's prior knowledge, quality social interaction on the tour and the fulfillment of the desire for an 'authentic' experience. With this finding, I suggest considering learning in an ecotourism setting as personal change and provide practical suggestions for encouraging all visitors to achieve personal understanding.