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How Long Does an Economic Impact Last? Tracking the Impact of a New Giant Panda Attraction at an Australian Zoo

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Abstract

A concerning issue with Economic Impact Analysis (EIA) is that many EIAs give results for one year, without being explicit about how long impacts are expected to last. New tourism attractions should not be assumed to provide continuing positive impacts into the future. For instance, the Giant Pandas at Adelaide Zoo generated a positive economic impact in their first year of residence (22% of a sample of tourists visited Adelaide “due to pandas,” additional tourism expenditure in the region was $27.7 million, with $2.3 to $4.6 million captured by the zoo); however, increased numbers visiting to see the pandas lasted only two years. Investment decision makers expected larger, longer-term economic benefits than eventuated, and the zoo experienced financial difficulties. This study provides advice for predictive EIA of new tourism attractions and prompts a call for tourism EIA studies to be explicit about the time period for which results are relevant.

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... This experimental study is conducted in a zoo setting. Zoos make an important contribution to the development of the tourism sector by simultaneously playing the role of tourism attractions and conservation organizations (Driml, Ballantyne, and Packer 2017). Tourism research on zoos has explored a range of phenomena including the characteristics of on-site and off-site conservation activities (Turley 1999), the financial impact of a new attraction (Driml, Ballantyne, and Packer 2017), and the mission of zoos as sustainable eco-tourism destinations. ...
... Zoos make an important contribution to the development of the tourism sector by simultaneously playing the role of tourism attractions and conservation organizations (Driml, Ballantyne, and Packer 2017). Tourism research on zoos has explored a range of phenomena including the characteristics of on-site and off-site conservation activities (Turley 1999), the financial impact of a new attraction (Driml, Ballantyne, and Packer 2017), and the mission of zoos as sustainable eco-tourism destinations. Previous visitor-oriented research has focused on exploring visitor motivations (Klenosky and Saunders 2007), visitor preferences, and animal attractiveness (Carr 2016). ...
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In the past two decades, research in tourism has explored the shift to the experiential economy in which consumers (visitors) seek memorable experiences. While prior studies converge toward the idea that immersion is a critical dimension of the tourism experience, research on immersion remains scarce, particularly the conditions under which immersion is achieved and its consequences on visitor evaluations. To fill this gap, this research builds on the experiential and flow literature to propose a model where immersion derives from autonomy and leads to greater visitor satisfaction through the underlying mechanism of temporal dissociation. Additionally, it is proposed that reactance moderates the relationship between autonomy and temporal dissociation. Two empirical studies—a field study in an experiential wine museum and an experiment involving a zoo visit—provide robust evidence of these effects, fostering theoretical progress on immersion and subsequent temporal dissociation as important dimensions of the tourism experience.
... This is illustrated by the addition of two giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) to Adelaide Zoo in 2010. Although the giant panda is arguably the most charismatic of all species, their addition to Adelaide Zoo only resulted in increased visitor numbers lasting two years, after which attendance returned to pre-2010 levels (Driml et al. 2017). If zoos and aquariums are to appeal to visitor preferences, further investigation is needed into not only which species people most like to see -and the characteristics of these species that drive their appeal -but also the broader motives and expectations behind a visit to a zoological institution (Garrett 2015). ...
Thesis
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... This may be because the species was viewed simply as a 'black corvid' and black corvids could be commonly seen in the countryside. Therefore, the species could be considered underwhelming to visitors, despite its vibrant red beak and legs; effectively, the opposite to giant pandas arriving at Adelaide zoo for example (Driml, Ballantyne, & Packer, 2016). However, more likely was the fact that chough were 'competing' against two mammalian species that also figure highly within UK conservation plans and activities; the wildcat and water vole. ...
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... Also, the new emotion-time-space model needs to be further tested to identify findings which are generally applicable in different contexts from the highly-specific factors only relevant to one zoological theme park at the time of study (Schultz and Joordens 2014). Nonetheless, this type of pioneer research with a detailed empirical study and backed by a conceptual framework should be more widely encouraged in conservation education (Driml, Ballantyne, and Packer 2017). Industry leaders in the planning and management of zoological facilities need to be forward-looking and dynamic. ...
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Grajal, A. 2013. "Zoos as Ecotourism Experiences." In International Handbook on Ecotourism, edited by R. Ballantyne and J. Packer, 504. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.
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  • Jai Kookana
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Peddie, Clare. 2010. "Pandas will leave Adelaide Zoo in Debt for a Decade." news.com.au. 27 December. http://www.news.com.au/national/wang-wang-leaves-giant-panda-debt-foradelaide-zoo/story-e6frfkvr-1225976525886.
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State Tourism Satellite Accounts 2012-13. Canberra: Australian Government
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