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Threshold of tolerability: the impact of management changes to recreational fishing in Ningaloo Marine Park

Jeremy Northcote (Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Australia)
Jim Macbeth (Murdoch University, Murdoch, Australia)

Tourism Review

ISSN: 1660-5373

Article publication date: 11 April 2008




The purpose of this paper is to examine a model for conceptualizing the impacts of environmental management strategies on travel and recreation choice making behavior that considers tolerance thresholds in visitor responses to destination change.


A survey involving a sample of 347 regular campers and fishers in the Ningaloo Marine Park, Australia, is analyzed to discern the effect of tolerance thresholds.


Despite widespread dissatisfaction with enlarged sanctuary zones and negative impacts on recreational activities, visitors indicated a high level of satisfaction with their stay. This apparent contradiction is, it is argued, best explained by the threshold of tolerability concept.

Research limitations/implications

It is argued that recreational users, planning authorities and other stakeholders have a threshold of tolerability in terms of decision‐making concerning management changes. These thresholds mean that changes in management policies, modes of activity and destination travel choices are rarely predictable in their effect, but are bounded by minimal and ideal expectations of destination appeal.


The paper introduces an important concept for tourism research that will aid tourism planning and management authorities in the face of growing environmental pressures caused by overpopulation and climate change.



Northcote, J. and Macbeth, J. (2008), "Threshold of tolerability: the impact of management changes to recreational fishing in Ningaloo Marine Park", Tourism Review, Vol. 63 No. 1, pp. 28-35.



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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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