Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Environmental Studies (MES)


Geography & Environmental Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Dr. Scott Slocombe

Advisor Role

Graduate Advisor


In the past several decades, scholarly research has simultaneously expanded in three research areas: northern tourism, drive tourism and the tourist experience. This study used an exploratory approach to understand the relationship between those three areas through a case study of the Yukon. Lead by four guiding questions 1) what are motor vehicle-based tourists’ expectations of Yukon? 2) how do Yukon tourists’ expectations influence their motor vehicle travel? 3) how does the motor vehicle influence tourists’ experience in the Yukon? and 4) how is Yukon reflected in the narratives of motor vehicle-based tourists? a mixed methods approach was used to collect data, and both qualitative and quantitative techniques were used to analyze the results. Thirty-nine participants completed semi-structured questionnaires on-site and in-person. Through a combination of content analysis and descriptive statistics, this study answered the guiding questions using the quantitative results and the themes and categories that were derived from tourists’ narratives. Participants from this study were largely repeat visitors to Yukon who started their trip from within Canada seeking nature-based experiences as much as they sought motor vehicle-based travel. Key instrumental and affective motor vehicle attributes were found to be central to the motor vehicle-based tourist experience including convenience, independence, freedom, reliability and road access while the nature environment and personal development were also important motivations. This study also found seven categories to represent the tourist experience in the Yukon including ‘unique opportunities and service expectations’, ‘travel adventure’, ‘pristine nature’, ‘engaging places’, ‘meaningful interrelationships and solitude’, ‘unexpected weather’, and ‘sharing ii stories’. Meaningful interrelationships and solitude were found to be the most consequential of the narratives because of the lasting impression they left in participants’ narratives. As visitor numbers increase in the Yukon by way of various marketing strategies, changes in tourist demand and the onset of climate change and warming temperature, this travel market will likely increase. Diversifying the drive tourism market in the Yukon by developing different products to match the different needs of various subgroups will be beneficial to tourism businesses as well as fostering sustainable practices. More studies like this one will be needed to track changes in tourists’ travel patterns and preferences.

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