Ecotourism as an industry has seen a sharp rise in the last few decades, with an increasing number of accessible travel destinations and activities to partake in. One location that many people travel to is Alaska, with its beautiful sprawling landscapes, productive fishing, and suite of interesting wildlife. Located in the Kodiak Archipelago, the Kodiak Raspberry Island Remote Lodge (KRIRL) supports guests coming to fish for salmon and halibut, while some journey here to see bears and go hiking. How important are opportunities to see wildlife to guest motivations and satisfaction? To address these questions, I worked at KRIRL for two months during the summer of 2017, keeping detailed eBird checklists and notes on all wildlife seen, and also talking with guests to get a sense of their motivations for coming to the lodge. Most people (80%) who visit KRIRL spend one or fewer days on activities other than fishing, and only 2% of guests chose to completely forgo fishing and just look for wildlife. All guests, regardless of chosen itinerary and activities, seemed excited to see charismatic megafauna such as whales and bears, and everyone talked to was very satisfied with their time at KRIRL. A minority of guests were interested in or even were aware of many of the smaller creatures to be enjoyed around the island, such as nudibranchs and auklets. After talking with many guests, and keeping track of where notable species were likely to be found, a hypothetical tour package was devised that could be modified and used by the lodge to offer a slightly different experience to their guests than is currently available. Additionally, a field guide to the wildlife of Raspberry Island and surrounding waters was compiled, with the intent that it be used by the lodge in future seasons for guests interested in learning more about the wildlife to be found nearby. This guide is not meant to be an exhaustive treatise of all species possible, but a targeted tool to help the average guest find and identify the creatures they are most likely to want to see around Kodiak. Overall, this report will be useful to KRIRL for getting a different perspective on their own guest motivations and enjoyment, and also in general as a model for other ecotourism companies that wish to better understand what sort of options to offer their clients.
Magnier, Brian, "The role of birding and wildlife viewing at a fishing lodge in the Kodiak Archipelago, Alaska" (2017). Internship Reports (Restricted). 301.
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