ABSTRACT

Carvache-Franco, M.; Carvache-Franco, W., and Manner-Baldeon, F., 2021. Market segmentation based on ecotourism motivations in marine protected areas and national parks in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. Journal of Coastal Research, 37(3), 620–633. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.

Demand segmentation in ecotourism is a strategy that supports efficient planning for the conservation of resources. This study aimed to create a market segmentation based on ecotourism motivations for protected areas on islands. Data were collected through a questionnaire given to 822 tourists on the Galapagos Islands, a province of Ecuador. The Galapagos Archipelago is located in the Pacific Ocean and has been declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (2019). It is of volcanic origin surrounded by marine currents. It is made up of two protected areas: Galapagos National Park, which covers the land surface, and the Galapagos Marine Reserve, which protects the marine environment. The findings were later evaluated with a factor analysis and a K-means clustering method. The results showed that there are six motivational dimensions, labeled: self-development, interpersonal relationships and ego-defensive function, escape, building personal relationships, nature appreciation, and reward. Three groups of tourists were identified. The first, the reward and escape group, had high motivations related to nature, experiencing new things, exploring the unknown, fun, escaping the routine, and destressing. The second, multiple motives tourists, scored highly on all motivational variables. Finally, nature tourists had high motivation in aspects related to nature. These results offer a basis for tourism service providers to develop specific products adapted to various tourist motivations, to improve offers adapted to tourist expectations, to increase satisfaction and tourist return rate, and ultimately to benefit the economy of marine protected areas and national parks with higher employment and income. This study also can help public institutions design appropriate plans for visitors to these island protected areas.

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