Identifier

etd-04252011-172401

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Renewable Natural Resources

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

In the 1980s, the term ecotourism emerged as a direct result of acknowledgment and reaction by travelers to global ecological practices. In reality, the concept of ecotourism carries wide applications, particularly for bio-diverse countries with unique natural attractions. Sri Lanka qualified as such a country, presenting a significant tourism resource base, that display natural and cultural phenomena, including forests, waterfalls, mountains, exotic flora and fauna, and a heritage equally as ancient and as rich as the Greeks and Romans. Ecotourism in today’s dynamic global environment demands that ecotourism operators face a keenly competitive market in order to present an appealing ecotourism products and services to diverse customers. Therefore, an improved understanding of how tourists acquire knowledge about a destination and its services is important for marketing management decisions, designing of effective communication campaigns, and efficient service delivery. Consumer pre-purchase information search may be identified as one of the most compelling research fields in consumer behavior. However, scant evidence exists on how information is actually processed, prior to making travel decisions. This proposed model examines the causal relationship among information searching, information processing, destination image, and travel-related search outcomes pertaining to forest-based tourism, using a Structural Equation Modeling approach. The proposed model offers special attention to travelers’ information processing consequently influencing travel related outcomes. In addition, this study identified four distinct market segments, based on ecotourists’ utilization of external information sources in visiting forest-based tourism destinations in Sri Lanka: impulsive searchers, active seekers, passive seekers and, provider dependents. In the context of ecotourists actual travel related decisions, such as destination choice, estimated expenses and the length of stay at the destination, study findings suggest that provider dependents, followed by impulsive searchers are the most productive segments for destination marketers. Service providers are the primary source of information for provider dependents, while impulsive searchers tend to acquire travel related information through word of mouth communication.

Date

2011

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Vlosky, Richard P.

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