Wildlife tourism and seasonal factors: can Scotland use its birdlife to expand its tourism market in wintertime?
(2016) Wildlife tourism and seasonal factors: can Scotland use its birdlife to expand its tourism market in wintertime?, no. 95.
Purpose: This study was designed with the aim of assessing the feasibility of expanding birdwatching tourism in winter in Scotland through examining the relationship between tourism activities and seasonal changes. This research contributes new knowledge to the relatively undeveloped academic field of birdwatching tourism. Methodological design: A qualitative approach was applied in order to meet the study's aim and objectives. One face-to-face interview and ten semi-structured phone interviews were conducted. The sample for this research was selected using a purposive random sample. Respondents included owners of wildlife and birdwatching tour companies and managers at non-governmental organisations, mainly working at nature reserves, visitor centres and visitor attractions in Scotland. This research engaged participants from across Scotland including, Orkney, Angus, Perthshire, Aberdeenshire, Scottish Borders, East Lothian, as well as some parts of the Scottish Highlands. During the interviews respondents were asked about the potential of birdwatching tourism in winter in Scotland, limitations in developing this type of market, and other questions relating to the activities and services that they offer in winter and other months. Results: Data was analysed and categorised by themes including: potential of birdwatching tourism in winter, birdlife in winter, activities, infrastructure and information offered. Seasonality related findings focus on weather, geographical location and closing and opening times. Marketing and promotion emerges as important theme, particularly due to the limitations caused by budget availability and the potential that resource to develop birdwatching tourism in winter in Scotland. Overall, this study reports that Scotland has abundant birdlife resources in winter but not enough visitors during the winter season to fully utilise its potential as yet.