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Abstract deadline
15 January 2021

Manuscript deadline
01 June 2021

Cover image - Journal of Ecotourism

Journal of Ecotourism

Special Issue Editor(s)

Ante Mandić, University of Split, Faculty of Economics, Business and Tourism
[email protected]

Stephen McCool, University of Montana, Montana USA
[email protected]

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Sustainable visitor experience design in nature-based tourism

Visitor experience is central to Nature-based Tourism (NBT). Good experiences (and memories) lead to sustainability, whether hiking in a remote forest, participating in a family outing to a local nature park, or floating a wild river with a group of friends. And yet, these experiences don’t just happen, they are built with the help of destination managers who influence the social, attraction and managerial setting attributes that provide the opportunity for visitors to construct an on-site experience. However, how are such settings designed to lead to experiences? How do visitors construct such experiences? In addition, what are the consequences of the memories of such experiences?

Experience design is about organising frameworks, developing objects and planning situations and events that give relevant experiences on a physiological, emotional and cognitive level (Jernsand et al., 2015). Sustainable experiences have been recently acknowledged as a means of obtaining competitive advantage while enhancing destinations sustainability and experience value; however, the knowledge how they can be included in experience design to enhance perceived value is limited (Breiby et al., 2020). Tourist experiences are generated via a process of perceiving and recognising a variety of sensory information obtained with a landscape or setting (Chhetri et al., 2004). They are characterised by many interactions with the physical and human environment valued by tourists and leading to satisfaction (Maunier & Camelis, 2013). They involve cognitive processes of knowing, believing and recognising, which are based on knowledge, learning and reasoning capabilities of individuals (Chhetri et al., 2004).

NBT is placed at the intersection between tourism, outdoor recreational activities and natural areas (Fossgard & Fredman, 2019), and its sustainable development requires a profound understanding of how such visitor experiences are constructed (Fredman & Tyrväinen, 2010). While the relationship between recreation settings and the visitor experience has been examined for a long time (Clark and Stankey 1979; Fix et al., 2013), a focus on understanding visitors and the quality of their experiences has become more relevant and essential over recent years (Pearce & Dowling, 2019). For a long time, research into visitor experience in NBT has been an integrated part of understanding the perceived value of parks and protected areas to visitors (Pearce & Dowling, 2019). NBT is characterised by intense experience derived from various activities in nature, with natural resources as a vital feature of the service delivery (Arnould & Price, 1993 in Fossgard & Fredman, 2019). Providing visitors with engaging experiences in nature is acknowledged as a strategy for building the societal support to achieve conservation goals, as well as to, directly and indirectly, benefit individuals, communities and societies (Moyle et al., 2017). This appreciation of visitors where they are viewed as an “asset rather than a liability” is grounded in them increasingly being seen not only as a valuable source of operational revenue but as advocates for natural areas (Moore et al., 2015, p.2).

NBT is continuously increasing worldwide (Zhang & Xu, 2020). As it becomes increasingly popular, the relationships between recreational activities and natural resources require further attention. Fossgard & Fredman, (2019) recently discussed this symbiosis in a context of experiencescape, and suggest that is worth exploring further, how the connection to the natural resources in the process of NBT experience design is understood from the providers’ perspective. Pearce & Dowling, (2019) refer to visitors’ perspective of this development and suggest that the attention should be paid to building a robust process for identifying measuring and comparing visitor preferences for different NBT experience.

Considering that the concept of sustainable experiences can be constructive for understanding how both, producers and visitors may mutually enhance destination sustainability and experience value (Breiby et al., 2020), this call seeks for original and relevant conceptual and empirical papers linking experiences and experience design with sustainability practice and discourse of nature-based tourism.

Topics of interest of the special issue include, but are not limited to
• Developments in sustainable experience design
• Visitor satisfaction and loyalty
• Co-creation and innovation of visitor experiences
• Role of the technologies in sustainable experience design and delivery
• Sustainable experience design and NBT development impacts
• Sustainable experiences – value chain and stakeholder perspectives
• The relationship between natural resources and NBT supply
• Marketing of sustainable experiences
• Management of sustainable experiences
• Sustainable experience design in NBT in post COVID-19 era

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Submission Instructions

We invite interested authors to submit an extended abstract (750-1000 words excluding references) to the co-editors, Ante Mandić ([email protected]) and Stephen McCool ([email protected]). Contributors must follow the journal’s "Instructions for Authors". Selected authors will be invited to submit full a manuscript on one or more of the above topics that summarize a research project or provide a synthesis of some aspect of NBT experience research and management. All full paper submissions will be subject to the normal peer review process of the Journal of Ecotourism.

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article