Determinants of visitor climate change risk perceptions in Acadia National Park, Maine, USA
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Determinants of visitor climate change risk perceptions in Acadia National Park, Maine, USA

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  • Journal Title:
    Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism
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    Nature-based tourism is one of the most economically important industries in the state of Maine, USA. Climate change impacts are projected to affect important tourism assets in Maine, which could result in behavioral shifts related to destination selection, seasonal visitation, and activity participation. Risk perceptions can be important predictors in visitor travel decisions. Recent tourism studies have focused on the effects of climate impacts on risk perceptions, but few have examined the social-psychological drivers of climate change risk perceptions. Drawing on social-psychological theories, we address this gap by understanding visitor climate change risk perceptions in Maine. We surveyed visitors to Acadia National Park in the summer of 2018 to assess the impact of socio-demographics, cognition, experience, and socio-cultural factors on visitor climate change risk perceptions. We used two-stage cluster probability sampling and intercepted 1317 visitors on site; 480 participants completed the online follow-up survey. Using hierarchical regression, we explained 45.5% of the variance in visitors’ climate change risk perceptions at a nature-based tourism destination. Visitors identifying as female, having higher levels of belief in climate change, more first-hand experience with climate impacts, and a higher altruistic values orientation amplified risk perceptions. Understanding determinants of climate change risk perceptions within an outdoor recreation setting has implications for offering high quality visitor experiences while maintaining the integrity of the natural resource base upon which visitation relies.
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    Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, 35, 100401
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    Accepted Manuscript
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