The relative importance of large mammal species for tourism in Amboseli National Park, Kenya

Marketing for tourism in Kenya mostly revolves around ‘‘the big five’’ charismatic large mammals. However, it is not known if these are in fact the species tourists seek and prefer to see, or what other species are important when the ‘‘big five’’ are absent. This study investigated the large mammal interests of tourists in Amboseli National Park. Tourist interests were determined by tracking tourist vehicles and observing for which animals they stopped, the duration of each stop, and which animals were ignored. We developed five criteria for assessing the relative importance of large mammals: (i) length of viewing, (ii) vehicle crowding, (iii) stopping on every encounter, (iv) proportion of stops per species, and (v) the relative tourism importance rank index that weighed viewing to availability. This study found that tourists were interested particularly in the big cats and other unique large mammals, but interest was not confined to these species. Other animals attracting interest were cheetah, waterbuck, lion, hippopotamus, giraffe, spotted hyena, baboon, warthog and elephant. We propose that marketing for Amboseli should focus on the large mammals that tourists actually prefer and highlight the viewing potential of these mammals within the park. This should also be emulated such that each protected area in Kenya develops its own list of ‘‘attractive’’ animals for tourists.

Last Updated
January 27, 2021
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