Title: Environmental communication and Marketing for the ecotourism development of a natural protected area
- Nikos Antonopoulos, Assistant Professor, Ionian University (Supervisor)
- Aggeliki Sgora, Assistant Professor, Ionian University
- Anastasia Komninou, Professor, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
The study explores the modern trends of a specific form of ecotourism, the observation of the night sky, as well as the practices of environmental communication and the role of marketing in it. Particular attention is given to astrotourism, a new alternative form with limited, compared to other forms, interventions in the environment, which at the same time highlights the darkness of an area as a natural resource, contributing to local development. The aim of the research is to investigate whether the selected area, the aspiring International Dark Sky Park of Aenos National Park in Kefalonia island, Greece has the characteristics necessary for the development of astrotourism.
International Dark Sky Parks are protected areas (National Parks, Areas of natural beauty, etc.) which support policies about the protection of the night sky from light pollution. This designation has proved particularly successful, as visitors of dark sky parks experience a truly dark sky through environmental education programs or night activities and become messengers of the importance of protection of the natural environment from light pollution. For this reason, astrotourism development is closely linked to the participation of local people at all stages of the project. In this framework, the research attempts through primary and secondary research, to present the optimal application of environmental communication and marketing tools in astrotourism, which does not undermine the quality of the environment and the need for protection, but rather to ensure the maximization of its value in order to bring economic benefits to the local community, but also to offer an integrated experience to astrotourists who visit the destination
Specifically, the research focuses on the study of the regions’ offered resources, while recording the views of residents and travelers (using questionnaires). It is also conduct a study of dark sky parks’ websites on whether they have a special category of environmental news, related to light pollution and whether they use appropriate colors in their graphic interface, to emphasize the need for awareness from light pollution. Finally, an assessment will take place about the impact of light pollution on the wildlife of Aenos National Park.
Based on the survey results, the research will proceed within the development of a concrete methodology for applying the principles of astrotourism in a destination, proposing the use of appropriate marketing tools in order to create demand for ecotourism services and products, ensuring its sustainability in the future.