Whale watching Tourism in Sri Lanka: Visitor Satisfaction and Behavioural Characteristics

Jeremy Buultjens, Iraj Ratnayake, Athula Gnanapala, Alexandru Mircea Nedelea


The commercial whale watching industry in Sri Lanka, like the tourism industry generally, is experiencing rapid growth in visitor numbers. The challenge for the government is to ensure the sector is managed sustainably which, in-part, requires an understanding of tour participants, their needs and experiences. In order to address this need, a study using the perceived-performance model was undertaken in Mirissa and Galle to examine the profile of whale watching tourists, their tour experiences and spending patterns. In late-2012 and early-2013 a questionnaire constructed in English and Sinhala and containing 28 questions was administered to participants after their tour in both Mirissa and Galle. Study participants indicated that they were overwhelmingly satisfied with all aspects of their tour. Additional the findings indicated that undertaking a whale watching tour was an important influence on their decision to visit Mirissa/Galle and contributed significantly to their enjoyment of their visit to the towns. The results also indicated the economic importance of whale watching to Mirissa and Galle.


Whale watching tourism; Visitor experience; Sri Lankan tourism; Economic impacts


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