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Abstract

Education of tourists at nature-based lodges can significantly affect their awareness, understanding, appreciation, and appropriate values and behaviors regarding the natural environment and the local community. This research seeks to explicate and synthesize theories and best practices in environmental education in the context of ecotourism. Using data from interviews and participant observation, it describes, classifies and compares the educational efforts directed toward guests of 14 leading ecolodges in Costa Rica and Panama. Relationships among educational goals and tourists’ satisfaction and views of the educational performance of nature guides are uncovered. Managerial recommendations are provided, including ways to improve the effectiveness of guides in educating lodge guests.

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Education in Ecolodges in Panama and Costa Rica

Education of tourists at nature-based lodges can significantly affect their awareness, understanding, appreciation, and appropriate values and behaviors regarding the natural environment and the local community. This research seeks to explicate and synthesize theories and best practices in environmental education in the context of ecotourism. Using data from interviews and participant observation, it describes, classifies and compares the educational efforts directed toward guests of 14 leading ecolodges in Costa Rica and Panama. Relationships among educational goals and tourists’ satisfaction and views of the educational performance of nature guides are uncovered. Managerial recommendations are provided, including ways to improve the effectiveness of guides in educating lodge guests.