Look at That: Faunal Sightings and Tourist Satisfaction in the Peruvian Amazon

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Ecotourism is an increasingly popular conservation/development strategy being used throughout the tropics. Scholars have shown the positive impact of community run ecotourism lodges throughout Central and South America on conservation efforts, community empowerment, and economic stability within the region. To increase the popularity of ecolodges and by extension their conservation benefits, this research seeks to understand the motivation behind tourists’ expectations for and satisfaction of ecotourism vacations. Previous studies on tourism show the importance of promotional materials and pre-determined destination image on tourist satisfaction. This study is novel in applying this lens to an ecotourism venue. The impact of promotional materials, portrayals of the rainforest by the media and viewings of wild fauna on tourists’ overall satisfaction are investigated. Using Rainforest Expeditions’ ecolodge Refugio Amazonas in Peru as a case study, data collection on tourists’ expectations, observations on tourists’ reactions to charismatic wildlife sightings and ratings of varying trail experience are used to understand tourists’ overall ecotour satisfaction.
Results support the hypotheses that tourist motivations for attending the ecolodge as well as their predetermined destination image created a highly correlated relationship between charismatic faunal sightings and tour satisfaction. Materials promoting the lodge have been found to be over-selling the experience resulting in lowered overall satisfaction, especially for those tourists who expected “an adventure of a lifetime.” I also found that popular cultural portrayals of the rainforest did impact tourists’ expectations and resulted in lower satisfaction ratings when an abundance of primates, exotic birds and jaguars were not experienced. Overall, tourist satisfaction was largely dependent on sighting of charismatic fauna throughout their time in the rainforest due to expectations before arrival. This study has led to many concrete steps tropical ecolodges can take to modify promotional materials, increase the frequency of sightings and use popular rainforest media portrayals to increase tourist satisfaction.


Type of resource text
Date created June 8, 2015


Author Esquibel, Annette
Primary advisor Durham, William
Advisor Curran, Lisa
Degree granting institution Stanford University, Department of Anthropology


Subject ecotourism
Subject Anthropology
Subject Stanford
Subject ecolodge
Subject Amazon
Subject rainforest
Subject conservation
Subject development
Subject sustainable
Subject ecotour
Subject south america
Subject economic
Subject tourism
Subject environment
Subject tourist satisfaction
Subject fauna
Genre Thesis

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial No Derivatives 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC-ND).

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Esquibel, Annette. (2015). Look at That: Faunal Sightings and Tourist Satisfaction in the Peruvian Amazon. Stanford Digital Repository. Available at: http://purl.stanford.edu/xy824rz8402


Graduate Research Papers from the MA Program, Department of Anthropology, Stanford University.

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