Academic Year 2019-2020
Institution University of Aberdeen


School: School of Biological Sciences

Project: The socioecological drivers of tourist decisions and their influence on wildlife tourism sustainability

Supervisors:  Dr Alex Douglas, Professor David Lusseau and Dr Simone Cerroni

Undergraduate Education: BSc (HONS) Forensic Science, University of Wolverhampton

Postgraduate Education: MSc Environmental Protection and Management, University of Edinburgh

Research: Tourism is a rapidly growing sector, with wildlife tourism often being suggested as a sustainable way to look after the environment, conserve the wildlife, and generate income. Not only would that help support communities and wildlife – it would also help countries to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals providing jobs, creating sustainable communities, and improving life on land and underwater. One of the problems with encouraging sustainable wildlife tourism is that we don’t know exactly what influences tourists to visit a location and take part in wildlife watching activities. If we understand what factors people consider when planning a wildlife watching activity, we can help to better inform policy makers, land / tourism managers, tour operators, and people living in wildlife tourism regions how to make it as sustainable as possible.

During my PhD, I plan to use a combination of surveys, choice experiments, and social media analysis to find out:

  • How people interact with nature.
  • What factors influence them to choose a location for wildlife watching activities.
  • How these decisions impact sustainability and how that could be useful for making wildlife tourism more sustainable.

At the moment, I plan to carry out research into the factors influencing decision making on as large a scale as possible, and carry out a more detailed case study somewhere in Scotland.