The Role of Wildlife in Emotional Attachment to a Nature-Based Tourism Destination

A. Folmer*, T. Haartsen, P.P.P. Huigen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Place attachment to protected areas has been associated with pro-environmental behaviour and visitor loyalty. It is therefore worth gaining insight into the factors that play a role in explaining attachment to nature-based tourism destinations. Various studies indirectly suggest that wildlife experiences play a role in visitor attachment to protected areas. Our paper explores the relationship between wildlife and overnight visitors' emotional attachment to a nature-based tourism destination in the Netherlands, the Lauwersmeer area. Our results demonstrate that motives centring on seeing wildlife, the perceived intensity of wildlife experiences, and an interest in guided wildlife encounters significantly explain emotional attachment to the Lauwersmeer area. However, since the majority of our respondents visit the Lauwersmeer area to see wildlife, it is likely that their pre-disposed emotions towards wildlife steer the relationship between wildlife experiences and emotional attachment. Facilitating and improving (guided) wildlife experiences may therefore be reinforcing, rather than increasing, emotional attachment to the Lauwersmeer area.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-145
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Ecotourism
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3-Dec-2013

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