Thanuja Rathakrishnan, Sridar Ramachandran, Siow May Ling, Ahmad Shuib, Syamsul Herman Mohammad Afandi, Puvaneswaran Kunasekaran & Sudesh Prabhakaran
This research looks at the wildlife memorable tourism experiences (WMTE) as the antecedents of visitor loyalty to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (SORC), Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia. Based on the experience economy reasoning, this study adopts the memorable tourism experience (MTE) framework with the introduction of a new variable – wildlife tourism. Through a self-administered questionnaire, data from 400 domestic and international visitors were analysed using SPSS 23. The study found that five factors are significant (wildlife tourism, novelty, stimulation, activities and adverse feeling) including the socio-demographic variables of education level (primary) and occupation (students) as well as five insignificant factors (relaxation, service, knowledge, unexpected happening and planning) in influencing visitor loyalty. The findings reveal that the introduction of a new dimension — wildlife tourism, contributes as the strongest predictor towards visitor loyalty. Subsequently, this study provides recommendations to the SORC management in enhancing visitor loyalty to the centre. Overall, this study highlights that visitors’ memorable experiences in the WMTE model is central in influencing the visitors’ revisit intentions to the SORC.
Keywords: Wildlife tourism, conservation, tourist intention, experience economy, endangered species, tourism marketing