Year of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Stephen F. McCool

Commitee Members

Steve Siebert, Jill Belsky, Wayne Freimund, Mary Ellen Campbell


University of Montana


A study of this nature is timely for there are numerous problems that developing countries face when they experience tourism development. In many instances these countries have not adequately planned for this growth and as a result there are detrimental consequences such as pollution, ribbon development, traffic congestion, noise pollution, water pollution, litter and numerous social dilemmas. There is also the need to balance tourism development with conservation for it is proven that the fastest growing segment of tourism is travel to areas to experience the natural history. There must also be caution with private sector influence and other outside forces for their agenda is often profit driven which can be to the detriment of the natural resources. This study segmented the tourists coming to Belize into five distinct groups and determined clear description of each segment to better decide which will best fit the national sustainable development agenda of the country. The segments are Ecotourists, Comfortable Naturalists, Naturalists, Nature Escapists, and Passive Players.

The study tested eight hypotheses to see if indeed a certain segment of tourist is better for a sustainable development agenda. Of the eight hypotheses tested only one was accepted and one was rejected. All other six were only partially accepted. The conclusion is that of the five segments who visit Belize, the Ecotourists are not the only group that subscribe to the principles of sustainable tourism. Ecotourists were similar to other segments on the number of times they have visited Belize, the duration of their stay, use of tour guides, and the type of group they were with. Also the Ecotourists and Nature Escapists are similar in their appreciation of nature and culture. They also share similar preferences for small-scale accommodations. They participated in activities that are iii appreciative of the environment. From a promotional perspective the Ecotourists, Nature Escapists, and Naturalists are the three segments that are attracted to an ecotourism destination. These three segments have a strong desire to learn about nature or to be in a natural environment so the strategy must emphasize the natural history of the country.

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© Copyright 1998 Vincent Roy Palacio