Date of Award

Fall 12-20-2020

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Ecology and Environmental Sciences


Sandra De Urioste-Stone

Second Committee Member

Bridie McGreavy

Third Committee Member

Parinaz Rahimzadeh-Bajgiran

Additional Committee Members

Erin Seekamp

Laura Rickard


Tourism is an increasingly important global industry. Coastal and nature-based tourism destinations are especially vulnerable to climate change. Trends in visitation are expected to shift under changing climate conditions, influencing tourist travel behaviors related to destination selection, timing of visits, and activity participation. Tourism suppliers’ adaptation and mitigation behaviors have the potential to alleviate negative shifts in visitation and respond to negative climate change impacts, while also enabling suppliers to take advantage of emerging opportunities. The purpose of this dissertation is to understand how tourism stakeholders, including tourism suppliers (i.e., business owners, managers) and consumers (i.e., visitors), perceive their risk from climate change and how that impacts their behavioral responses. Applying theories of risk perceptions and community resilience, we used a mixed methods approach to understand factors that influence destination resilience and stakeholder climate change risk perceptions and actions. We employed in-depth interviews, archival evidence, and a visitor survey to gather data from study participants. In chapter 2, we used a phenomenological methodology to examine how tourism stakeholders in Machias, Maine are experiencing and adapting to climate change. Findings indicate that social networks centered around shared values, beliefs, and sense of place, as well as engaged local governance, active knowledge sharing, and a sense of self-efficacy all contributed to agency in addressing coastal flooding. In chapter 3, we used a survey to measure drivers of visitors’ climate change risk perceptions in Acadia National Park, Maine. Significant predictors included identifying as female, having higher belief in climate change, having more first-hand experience with climate change impacts, and having a higher altruistic values orientation. In chapter 4, we used a case study methodology to understand the influence of supplier and visitor climate change risk perceptions and behavioral responses on destination resilience. Our findings show where areas of overlap between tourism supplier and visitor experiences, perceptions of threats, and behavioral responses can contribute to destination resilience. The ability of Maine’ tourism industry to assess their risk from climate change, adapt to impacts, and anticipate socio-ecological changes will influence system resilience to respond to climate change and potentially other shocks and stressors.