Searching for sanctuary during COVID-19: exploring regional South Australians’ nature-based tourism experiences

Gareth Butler, Gerti Szili, Iain Hay, Cecile Cutler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article draws upon the findings of an exploratory qualitative study of regional South Australian tourists' nature-based tourism experiences during COVID-19. Through the implementation of focus group interview sessions with participants across three age group categories, it was evident that many participants had visited nature-based settings in pursuit of health benefits. From the perspective of physical health, national parks and conservation areas were identified as “risk averse” backdrops that allowed exercise to be undertaken. From the perspective of mental health, nature-based tourism spaces acted as “mental sanctuaries” that supported wellbeing and enabled visitors to temporarily escape the stresses of COVID-19. Respondents aged under 30 reported a greater connectedness with nature and had positively re-evaluated the benefits of nature-based tourism. This article offers valuable insights into the role of nature-based tourism settings in supporting regional populations during the continuation of COVID-19 or other crises that present challenging times or hardship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalRural Society
Volume31
Issue number1
Early online date6 Apr 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Rural tourism
  • national parks
  • health
  • mental wellbeing

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