2دانشآموخته کارشناسی ارشد برنامهریزی توریسم، دانشگاه تهران
طی سالهای اخیر، جنبه های آموزشی تجربه ی سفرهای زیست بوم گردی (اکوتوریسم) و تأثیرگذاری آن بر رفتار و اخلاق گردشگران مورد توجه محققان قرار گرفته است. در عین حال، مطالعات انجام شده در باب آثار آموزشی زیست بوم گردی بیشتر به اخلاق زیست محیطی و کمتر به دیگر جنبه های آن پرداخته اند. در این مقاله، جنبه های زیست محیطی، اجتماعی و فردیِ یادگیری تجربی و تغییر رفتار با شرکت در فعالیت های زیست بوم گردی در ایران مورد تحلیل قرار می گیرد. پژوهش میدانی با بهره گیری از روش کیفی اکتشافی مبتنی بر مصاحبه های عمیق انجام شده است. نمونه گیری به شکل هدفمند صورت گرفته و در مجموع با 24 گردشگر، شامل 6 زن و 18 مردِ انتخاب شده از میان شرکت کنندگان در تورهای زیست بوم گردی سه بنگاه معتبر گردشگری ایران (یا آشنایان زیست بوم گرد آنان)، مصاحبه ی عمیق به عمل آمده است. مصاحبه ها با رویکرد اکتشافی، سوالات باز و بهره گیری از گفته های پاسخگویان برای طرح پرسش های بیشتر درباره ی یادگیری تجربی و تغییر رفتار زیست محیطی، اجتماعی و فردی زیست بوم گردان از دید خود آنان انجام شده اند. یافته ها حاکی از اَشکال مختلف یادگیری تجربی و تغییر رفتار در میان شرکت کنندگان در فعالیت های زیست بوم گردی است. ابعاد زیست محیطی یادگیری و تغییر رفتار در میان زیست بوم گردان مصاحبه شده شامل لذت از فهم محیط طبیعی، احترام به محیط زیست و قدردانی از آن، تمایل به شناخت محیط زیست، مسئولیت پذیری نسبت به محیط زیست و فعالیت جهت حفاظت از محیط زیست می گردد. همچنین، ابعاد اجتماعی و فردی یادگیری تجربی و تغییر رفتار نزد مصاحبه شدگان مشتمل بر احترام به همسفران و تعامل مثبت با آنان، مسئولیت پذیری نسبت به دیگران، پیروی از نظرات جمع، تمایل به کار تیمی، احترام به جامعه ی محلی و حس مسئولیت در قبال آن، مسئولیت پذیری و احترام نسبت به خود، تاب آوری هیجانی، چالش پذیری و توانایی عبور از چالش، و نیز هویت یابی و کسب نوعی معنویت است.
Experiential Learning and Behavior Change through Ecotourism Activities: A Qualitative Study in Iran
Extended Abstract By using an exploratory qualitative approach and purposive sampling, this article probes experiential learning and behavior change through ecotourism activities in Iran. A total of 24 participants in ecotourism activities, mostly organized by three of Iran’s largest tour operators, were interviewed. Participants’ ecotourism learning experiences as well as changes in their behaviors as a result of the activities were recorded and analyzed. A range of experiential learnings and behavior changes through participation in ecotourism activities were revealed. The article discusses these in terms of environmental ethics as well as personal and social development.
Introduction The learning and educational aspects of travel in general and ecotourism trips in particular have been highlighted in the tourism literature. According to the findings of a growing body of studies on the subject, learning can take place both through direct exposure to educational material and indirectly as a result of the various activities and interactions of participants in ecotourism activities. Demand for nature tourism in Iran is most likely on the rise due to the country’s demographic and urbanization characteristics as well as its wide of range of natural resources. Much of the nature-based tourism activities in Iran probably lacks conservation ethics and should not be characterized as ecotourism. At the same time, the recent boost in the number of specialized eco tours as well as increased academic attention given to the subject and expanding environmental activism in Iran provide evidence for the growing importance of ecotourism in the country. Yet, nature-based recreational activities, including ecotourism, have not been immune to criticism by both social conservatives and professional competitors. It is thus necessary to probe the various effects of Iran’s ecotourism activities. This article highlights the positive aspects of ecotourism in Iran by focusing on participants’ experiential learning and behavior change in terms of environmental ethics as well as personal and social development. These effects have hitherto received inadequate attention in the Iranian tourism literature.
Materials and Methods Field research for this article benefited from an exploratory qualitative approach and purposive sampling to analyze experiential learning and behavior change though participation in ecotourism activities in Iran. At the outset, three agencies among all operators of eco tours in the country were sampled based on their reputation in terms of service quality, staff professionalism, and focus on ecotourism. Interviewees were selected either from the participants in ecotourism activities organized by one of these agencies or among their acquaintances who met the researchers’ selection criteria. The central selection criterion was participants’ length of experience in ecotourism activities. Since capturing the effects of ecotourism in this research relied on respondents’ recollections, those with either little experience or extensive experience were excluded. For it was assumed that the magnitude of effects would be too small for the former group and too complex for the latter. A total of 24 respondents were eventually interviewed during the spring and summer of 2013. Interview questions were posed in an open manner and sought to record learning and behavior change in terms of environmental ethics as well as personal and social development through gaining more ecotourism experience. Interview results were subsequently transcribed and coded. In an iterative process, the number of codes were then reduced through collapsing and omission of duplications.
Discussion and Results Filed work results indicate significant learning and behavior change among the selected participants in ecotourism activities in terms of conservation attitudes and personal and social development. All respondents reported some form of learning and behavior change through gaining more ecotourism experience. Many of the respondents had joy-based expectations in their first ecotourism trips. Yet, they had eventually come to enjoy comprehending the natural environment and then respecting and appreciating the details of its characteristics. This new understanding had naturally led them to learn more about the environment and to eventually develop a sense of environmental responsibility. Respondents believed that their ecotourism learning experiences had further impacted their life styles and everyday attitudes in positive ways. They reported changes in their consumption behaviors—including inclination toward vegetarianism and refraining from use of animal hide and other products—as well as in the way they recycled and disposed their household trash or conserved water and energy. Some of the respondents had as a result engaged in environmental activism—e.g., volunteering to clean up the environment or starting websites/weblogs to promote environmental issues. Learning and behavior change were also found to have a number of social and personal development aspects among the interviewed participants in ecotourism activities. They had learned to respect their fellow travelers and local community members, engage them positively, and develop a sense of responsibility towards them. Following collective decisions and practicing team work were cited as other positive aspects of learning through ecotourism activities, which had been further encouraged by tour leaders. Personal growth was reported to have been facilitated though ecotourism experience in terms of gaining a sense of self-respect and responsibility, improving emotional and physical resilience as well problem-solving capabilities in the face of challenges, and identity or spiritual development.
Conclusion Findings of this study show significant similarity between the learning aspects ecotourism experiences in Iran and other studied cases. The sample of respondents selected for this research were mostly drawn from participants in the eco tours organized by the most professional operators in Iran. It is therefore quite likely that a great deal of nature-based tourism taking place in the country lacks comparable positive learning effects. Yet, as this study highlights the potential learning and behavior change effects of ecotourism activities, it also indicates the need for additional research on the subject across a wider range of nature-based tourism activities and by extension on possible ways to enhance their positive learning and behavior change impacts through facilitation and support. Keywords: Ecotourism, Experiential Learning, Behavior Change, Environmental Ethics, Personal and Social Development.
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کلیدواژه ها [English]
Ecotourism, Experiential Learning, Behavior Change, Environmental Ethics, Personal and Social Development