Rationalising inappropriate behaviour at contested sites

Robert Douglas McKercher, Karin Weber, Hilary du Cros

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines how tourists justify inappropriate behaviour at contested cultural heritage sites through an analysis of weblogs of people who climbed Uluru, Australia. The climb is increasingly seen as being inappropriate, culturally insensitive and socially unacceptable. Yet it remains open and up to 150,000 people participate each year. Park managers and traditional owners are trying to demarket it with the hope that falling consumer demand will ultimately result in its closure. The study revealed three types of climbers: those who reject the Aboriginality of the place; those with different value sets who see nothing inherently wrong with their actions; and a large group who is aware that its actions may be inappropriate and who, therefore, need to invoke some sort of neutralisation technique to rationalise their decision. This latter group is more likely to respond to behaviour modification messages and should be the main target of future demarketing activities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-385
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Sustainable Tourism
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2008


  • Neutralisation theory
  • Uluru
  • Visitor behaviour
  • Visitor impacts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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