Archive for the ‘Wildlife Tourism Research’ Category

Book Review. Nature-based Tourism and Conservation

Book Review. Nature-based Tourism and Conservation (Tisdell and Wilson)

book covrTisdell, C. and Wilson, C. 2012. Nature-based Tourism and Conservation: New Economic Insights and Case Studies, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham

Review by Ronda Green, Chair of Wildlife Tourism Australia

Ecotourism is often cited as a saviour of wildlife and their habitats, a view that is regarded with skepticism by others. In general the ideas are commendable but we often lack the necessary knowledge of local situations to effectively enhance conservation efforts as well as offering great experiences to tourists and financial gain to operators and the local community.

This volume, based on research since the turn of this century, offers valuable insights and information on the connection between nature tourism and biodiversity conservation from an economic perspective.It is an important bridging aid that should be read by all who are interested in this topic. Those more familiar with the economics of the tourism industry will gain many insights into the complexities of biodiversity conservation, and those more well-versed in conservation biology will be introduced to many aspects of the role of economics in achieving conservation aims through tourism.

Useful economics tools are described, but their limitations for particular situations are also discussed. Assumptions such as consumers always being fully informed and making rational choices for instance are not always valid. Models used for one purpose may need modifications to be used for others. Difficulties of finding answers to what would seem like simple questions are also discussed – e.g. visitation rates to World Heritage listed sites, when some of these sites cover vast areas and have multiple entry points.

The authors point out that many tourists travel to experience natural wonders and to enjoy nature in various other ways, and that such experiences can form an important part of their travel even when not the primary purpose. They ask whether the growth of nature tourism has a positive or negative effect on nature conservation, and caution from the start that there is no simple answer, a theme that is revisited multiple times throughout the work. One case discussed at some length is that of hatchery-raised sea-turtles as a combined tourism-conservation project, demonstrating that it can certainly create an economic return, but although there is potential for positive conservation outcomes, the actual conservation impact (positive or negative) depends very much on how the industry is managed in any particular region, and that there are relevant factors we don’t as yet know in sufficient detail (e.g. survival rate of young turtles hatched in the wild as opposed to those raised in hatcheries, including those kept for lengthy periods before release). A survey of the tourist activity based on turtles coming ashore to lay eggs at Mon Repos in Queensland resulted in a more favourable report for conservation, both in terms of education of visitors and of lack of adverse effects (the authors note that the turtles indeed seem to be increasing there).

An interesting point raised in the first chapter is that Birdlilfe International encourages its members to travel to demonstrate the value of bird and habit conservation. This may at first reading sound a little manipulative, but I see it more as a way of nature-lovers showing the concern they already  feel, and their support for local conservation projects, while being rewarded by an enjoyable holiday or day-trip. Bird watchers and other nature enthusiasts don’t always make it obvious that they are visiting a region (and thus spending on local products and services)  for this pleasure, and so tourism providers, travel agents and local councils may well be unaware of their reasons for being there: maybe  nature-loving tourists could develop a habit of chatting more with hotel staff, service station attendants, waiters and others!

Some of the topics are very relevant to changes happening in Australia’s legislation in the current decade, with several governments wanting to ‘open up’ national parks to increasingly more kinds of tourism activities and facilities, and to downplay the role of biodiversity conservation as opposed to recreation. A survey showed that visitors to a reserve in Far North Queensland were largely opposed  to the development of commercial services and facilities in national parks, although they mostly favoured guided tours within national parks. World Heritage values are hailed in the book as important for national pride in natural areas, and enhancing protection by the federal government. Recent proposed changes to our legislation may see a watering down of the ability of federal government to intervene in matters related to World Heritage, and to the de-listing of some sites.

Conservation costs money, and the concept of national parks making money to be used for conservation management is essentially sound, but the details of how to do so are problematic. Increasing the tourism dollar may not have to depend on introducing more 4WD, horse-riding and accommodation into our national parks. The book points to  a number of opportunities as yet under-utilised, such as more provision for the under-supplied and growing demand for opportunities for sea-bird viewing, and possibilities for insect-based tourism such as butterfly- or fire-fly watching. The authors also present findings on surveys on willingness of visitors to pay for entry into national parks: opposition to the idea includes a feeling that ‘nature should be free’,  that charging for national park entry makes it a more elitist  activity, and that proceeds from those that do charge entry fees go into general government revenue rather than specifically towards conservation management.

Contributions to local economies is an essential component of ecotourism, and also provides incentives to local government to protect natural areas. Research discussed in the book shows where this is well established and places where it is not (for instance the lack of local restaurants and souvenir shops near natural attractions such as glow worm sites).

There are many examples where tourism is contributing to conservation either directly or indirectly, or has a real potential for doing so. There are other cases such as tree-kangaroo viewing in Far North Queensland where group sizes need to be small and the activity is labour-intensive for the guide and to some extent for the tourists themselves, where the tourism dollar is thus currently insufficient to pay for conservation, and government assistance is necessary. The very title of the tree-kangaroo chapter suggests that more revenue could perhaps be raised if the species became more famous amongst tourists. Doubtless there are many other species that could achieve more tourist demand, but many others that never will, and will always need additional sources of revenue.

The concluding remark by the authors in the final chapter is that “Nature-based tourism should not be regarded as a substitute for other policy measures designed to sustain wild biodiversity, but it can be a useful supplement to such efforts.”

The chapters are as follows, and even a casual lance shows what a wide range of topics are addressed:

Part I: Background

1. An Overview of Nature-based Tourism and Conservation

2. The Growing Importance of Nature-based Tourism: Its Evolution and Significant Policy Issues

3. The User-Pays Principle and Conservation in National Parks: Review and Australian Case Study

Part II: Tourism, Protected Areas and Nature Conservation

4. World Heritage Listing of Australian Natural Sites: Effects on Tourism, Economic Value and Conservation

5. Antarctic Tourism: Environmental Concerns and the Importance of Antarctica’s Natural Attractions for Tourists

6. Rainforest Tourists: Wildlife and Other Features Attracting Visitors to Lamington National Park, Australia

7. Are Tourists Rational? Destination Decisions and Other Results from a Survey of Visitors to a North Queensland Natural Site – Jourama Falls

8. A Case Study of an NGO’s Ecotourism Efforts: Findings Based on a Survey of Visitors to its Tropical Nature Reserve

Part III: Particular Wildlife Species or Groups of Species as Tourist Attractions

9. Tourism as a Force for Conserving Sea Turtles Under Natural Conditions

10. The Role of Open-cycle Hatcheries Relying on Tourism in Sea Turtle Conservation: A Blessing or a Threat?

11. Whale-Watching as a Tourism Resource and as an Impetus for the Conservation of Whales

12. Little Penguins and Other Seabirds as Tourist Drawcards

13. Yellow-eyed Penguins and Royal Albatross as Valuable Tourist Attractions

14. Glow-worms and Other Insects Entice Tourists

15. Tree-Kangaroos, Tourism and Conservation: A Study of a Little-known Species

Part IV: This Study in Retrospect

16. General Conclusions

Where to purchase the book (or ask your library to do so)?

A couple of options are Google (a e-book option is by far the cheapest) and the Book Depository


Two new wildlife tourism papers

Two new wildlife tourism papers

(two of the authors – Isabelle Wolf and David Croft) are also Wildlife Tourism Australia members)

Wolf, I. D., Hagenloh, G., & Croft, D. B. (2012). Visitor monitoring along roads and hiking trails: How to determine usage levels in tourist sites. Tourism Management, 33, 16-28.

From the abstract: “We assessed visitor use at 80 sites in the Flinders Ranges gorges and compared 11 visitor variables for their potential to differentiate usage levels between sites either exposed to vehicle or hiker traffic. …. We recommend GPS tracking because of the reliability and detail of data and the many sites per day that can be sampled. … Survey data gathered in relation to specific site-use were tempered by the memory of visitors and their ability to describe or reference the visited sites on a map. ”

Wolf, I. D., Stricker, H. K., & Hagenloh, G. (2013). Interpretive media that attract park visitors and enhance their experiences: a comparison of modern and traditional tools using GPS tracking and GIS technology. Tourism Management Perspectives, 7, 59-72.

New publication on wildlife tourism, economics and conservation

New publication on wildlife tourism, economics and conservation

Emeritus Professor Clem Tisdell was one of our keynote speakers at the national wildlife tourism workshop held a Currumbin Wildlife sanctuary last year. He has now published a paper on the topic on which he spoke at our workshop:

Tisdell, C. 2012. Economic benefits, conservation and wildlife tourism. Acta Turistica 4:127-148

Part of the abstract reads:

“A way of maximising the economic contribution of nature-based tourism to regional and local communities is outlined. Several factors are identified that result in wildlife tourism contributing to nature conservation. This is followed by a discussion of the diversity of stake-holders in nature-based tourism and the economic challenges facing them.”


You may also be interested in further information linked from:

Birdwatching tourism study

birdwatchgirlBirdwatching tourism study

From Rochelle Steven

Share your views on Avitourism – Online Survey

Avitourism is an expanding recreational phenomenon that can potentially support the conservation of bird species globally. This research will capture the preferences of avitourists with respect to birds and bird habitats to enhance our knowledge of the features driving birdwatching. Findings are expected to increase our understanding of how avitourism can be developed and promoted in ideal locations as a conservation tool but also where management is needed to ensure sustainability of the industry.

An online survey of your birding experiences can be completed through by following this link;

Marine turtle rehabilitation centre, Australia

Turtle information centre, and a great combination of wildlife conservation, research, education and tourism

Jennie Gilbert and her husband run a large veterinary clinic in Cairns, and Jennie is also a researcher of marine turtles at James Cook University. In 2000, she and fellow marine biologist Paul Barnes started one of Australia’s largest  voluntary  turtle rehabilitation centres with  an attached  interpretation centre presently being built.

Scuba divers coming ashore on Fitzroy Island

I recently visited the turtle rehabilitation centre , on Fitzroy Island, near Cairns, Far North Queensland.

Fitzroy is a beautiful little continental island with fringing reef. Just over an hour’s ferry ride from Cairns, it includes rainforest walks, lovely beaches, mountainous terrain (it is essentially a mountain top with most of the rest of the mountain now covered by sea) and coral you can snorkel amongst just by walking out fro the beach. Not quite as diverse as the outer reef, there are still plenty of species of fish foraging amongst the corals, and I was especially thrilled when a unicorn fish passed close to me.

The turtle hospital is near the best snorkelling area, and when I visited had just two turtles in the tanks (I was told there were a few more at the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre on the mainland). One – an olive Ridley turtle –  was very badly injured when first brought in  and recovery is taking while.

Green turtle (usually herbivorous) eating a squid at the Turtle Hospital, Fitzroy Island

The other, a green turtle, is doing very well and will probably be released fairly soon. Since green turtles are herbivorous, I was surprised to see her eating squid, but they apparently adapt very readily to that in captivity.

You can easily visit Fitzroy Island as a day-trip from Cairns, but even better you can stay overnight, either at the campground or the very attractive and comfortable Fitzroy Resort

The turtle information centre is due to open a little later this year: keep tuned for a report here from Jennie.

Further reading (on Jennie Gilbert, turtle research and turtle rehabilitation):!search/profile/person?personId=1264094801&targetid=profile

Jennie Gilbert with a green turtle on Fitzroy Island. The missing piece of shell on her right hand side will never re-grow, but she has now recovered well from other injuries and is soon to be released )



(press release)

Murdoch University academic student undertaking a Honours Degree in Marine Science Mr James Raeside 24 of Coolbellup is focusing his thesis on Mandurah Dolphins.

With the deaths of six Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) in the Swan-Canning Estuary in 2009 emphasised the need to better understand the ecology of dolphins within estuarine environments.

Bottle-nosed dolphins (photo Araucaria Ecotours)

Research has already been carried out in the Swan-Canning, Cockburn Sound and Bunbury confines.

Raeside has teamed up with Mandurah Cruises who have offered their vessels to him on a daily bases to carryout research and use them as a photographic platform which allows him the opportunity to get very close to them.

The studies will focus on developing a photo—identification catalogue of the dolphins found in the Mandurah Estuary and Murray and Serpentine river systems.

The collaboration with Mandurah Cruises and Mr Raeside’s research will have an end result of having identified and naming most of the mammals from markings on the dorsal fins but will be an opportunistic time to study the presence of any skin lesions that will access the dolphin’s population health.

Each dolphin sighting is recorded with time, location with GPS and number of dolphins present that will form part of the photo-identification data.

The research will be the base of subsequent studies of the dolphin population occurring in the Peel Region.

On average Mr Raeside sees approximately 8 dolphins per day which includes 4 calves, two have just recently been born.

When asked about the dolphins he has seen so far he stated they looked happy, healthy, large and productive.


Economics of wildlife tourism and conservation

Economics of wildlife tourism and conservation

Emeritus Professor Clem Tisdell of University of Queensland, is one of Australia’s most published authors on economics and a leading expert on the economics of wildlife tourism.  He will be one of the keynote speakers at our national workshop in May and will be staying on for discussion groups – and excellent opprtunity to thrash out some ideas and gain some valuable insights on the economic value of wildlife and how economics and ecological studies might combine for wildlife conservation.

See our interview with Professor Tisdell, and feel free to join in some discussions even now by adding comments below




Additions to our wildlife tourism reseaerch literature

New titles on our research literature page

Below are some recent updates to our Wildlife Tourism Bibliography page

Thanks to Michelle Plant for her assistance with this

Ballantyne, R., Packer, J. and Falk, J. (2011). “Visitors’ learning for environmental sustainability: Testing short and long term impacts of wildlife tourism experiences using structural equation modelling.” Tourism Management 32 (6): 1243-1252.

Ballantyne, R., Packer, J. and Sutherland, L. (2011). “Visitors’ memories of wildlife tourism: Implications for the design of powerful interpretive experiences.” Tourism Management 32 (4): 770-779.

Bhuiyan, M., Siwar, C., Ismail, S.M. et al (2011). “The role of home stay for ecotourism development in East Coast Economic Region.” American Journal of Applied Sciences 8 (6): 540-546.

Catlin, J. and Jones, R. (2010). “Whale shark tourism at Ningaloo Marine Park: A longitudinal study of wildlife tourism.” Tourism Management 31 (3): 386-394.

Catlin, J., Jones, R. and Jones, R. (2011). “Revisiting Duffus and Dearden’s wildlife tourism framework.” Biological Conservation 144 (5): 1537-1544.

Coglan, A., Fox, K.R., Prideaux, B. and Luck, M. (2009). “Successful interpretation in Great Barrier Reef Tourism: dive in or keep out of it?” Proceedings of CMT2009, the 6th International Congress on Coastal and Marine Tourism June, 2009, Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa: 47-60.

Hemson, G., Maclennan, S., Mills, G., Johnson, P. and Macdonald, D. (2009). “Community, lions, livestock and money: A spatial and social analysis of attitudes to wildlife and the conservation value of tourism in a human-carnivore conflict in Botswana.” Biological Conservation 142 (11): 2718-2725.

Higham, J. and Shelton, E. (2011). “Tourism and wildlife habituation: Reduced population fitness or cessation of impact?” Tourism Management 32 (6): 1290-1298.

Knight, J. (2010). “The ready-to-view wild monkey: The Convenience Principle in Japanese Wildlife Tourism.” Annals of Tourism Research 37 (3): 744-762.

Liggett, D., McIntosh, A., Thompson, A., Gilbert, N. and Storey, R. (2011). “From frozen continent to tourism hotspot? Five decades of Antarctic tourism development and management, and a glimpse into the future.” Tourism Management 32 (2): 357-366.

Lovelock, B. (ed) (2008). “Tourism and The Consumption of Wildlife. Hunting. Shooting and Fishing.” Routledge, London.

Maljkovi, A. and Côté, I. (2011). “Effects of tourism-related provisioning on the trophic signatures and movement patterns of an apex predator, the Caribbean reef shark.” Biological Conservation 144 (2): 859-865.

Maréchal, L., Semple, S., Majolo, B., Qarro, M., Heistermann, M. and MacLarnon, A. (2011). “Impacts of tourism on anxiety and physiological stress levels in wild male Barbary macaques.” Biological Conservation 144 (9); 2188-2193.

Rodger, K., Moore, S. A. & Newsome, D. (2009). “Wildlife Tourism, Science and Actor Network Theory.” Annals of Tourism Research 36 (4): 658-664.

Scarpa, R., Notaro, S., Louviere, J. and Raffaelli, R. (2011). “Exploring scale efforts of best/worst rank ordered choice data to estimate benefits of tourism in alpine grazing commons.” American Journal of Agricultural Economics 93 (3): 813-828.

Sebele, L. (2010). “Community-based tourism ventures, benefits and challenges: Khama Rhino Sanctuary Trust, Central District, Botswana.” Tourism Management 31 (1): 136-146.

Semeniuk, C., Haider, W., Cooper, A. and Rothley, K. (2010). “A linked model of animal ecology and human behaviour for the management of wildlife tourism.” Ecological Modelling 221 (22): 2699-2713.

Semeniuk, C., Bourgeon, S., Smith, S. and Rothley, K. (2009). “Hematological differences between stingrays at tourist and non-visited sites suggest physiological costs of wildlife tourism.” Biological Conservation 142 (8): 1818-1829.

Stoeckl, N., Birtles, A., Farr, M., Mangott, A., Curnock, M. and Valentine, P. (2010). “Live-aboard dive boats in the Great Barrier Reef: regional economic impact and the relative values of their target marine species.” Tourism Economics 16 (4): 995-1018.

Taplin, R. (In Press). “Competitive importance-performance analysis of an Australian wildlife park.” Tourism Management .

Wolf, I. and Croft, D. (2010). “Minimizing disturbance to wildlife by tourists approaching on foot or in a car: A study of kangaroos in the Australian rangelands.” Applied Animal Behaviour Science 126 (1-2): 75-84.

Yeh ChienMu, Hu HanNing, Tsai ShuHsien et al (2011). “A conceptual model of knowledge sharing and market orientation in the tourism sector.” American Journal of Applied Sciences 8 (4):343-347.