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In Spring 2016, I was awarded a Small Grant award of $5,000 to pursue an exploratory study on Chinese tourism in West Yellowstone, a gateway community to Yellowstone National Park (YNP). The study was developed in partnership with the National Park Service staff and the tourism planners of West Yellowstone in response to the large influx of Chinese tourists to YNP and the gateway communities over the past five years. While there are many opportunities of this increased international tourism such as greater spending during visits and increased tourism in the shoulder seasons, there have also been many challenges for park managers and tourism operators. Some of these challenges include barriers in communication, vehicle safety, human-wildlife conflicts, behaviors around thermal areas, differing expectations of their national park experience, and lack of preparation and understanding for cultural differences in the hospitality industry. To address these challenges and to inform development of visitor experiences and interpretive programs and materials to meet the needs of Chinese tourists, YNP management, and gateway communities, this research aims to: 1) gain a better understanding of Chinese tourists’ attitudes towards national parks, wildlife, and wildlife management; 2) expectations and satisfaction of YNP national park and gateway community experiences; 3) identify the desired communication and interpretation strategies to communicate YNP information, rules, and management.


© 2017 Jennifer Thomsen