Principles established at Incorporation of WTA Inc.

Guiding Principles for Wildlife Tourism Australia Inc.

Incorporated May 2003

The purpose of this document is to provide an agreed basis for the operation of Wildlife Tourism Australia Inc. Components of this document can be incorporated into official documents such as a constitution, or used informally on communication materials, as appropriate.

Name of Organisation: Wildlife Tourism Australia Inc. (WTA)

Definition of wildlife tourism for the purposes of WTA: Tourism based on free-ranging and captive wildlife. 

Mission: To promote the sustainable development of a diverse wildlife tourism industry that supports conservation

Our emphasis is native animals in the wild, but we recognise the importance of well-run wildlife parks and zoos, especially where contributing to conservation, education and research, and also of Australian input into tourism involving non-native animals (e.g. some of our members conduct tours to other countries, and several zoo display exotic as well as native animals). We recognise the conservation value of well-regulate hunting of feral animals, but as an association we cater  only for non-consumptive wildlife tourism (viewing, photographing etc., not hunting or fishing, although some tours may include a minor amount of  low-impact fishing without fishing being the major focus of the tour).

At the incorporation of  WTA, the agreed roles were to:

  • play a leading role within Australia in promoting the sustainable development of a diverse wildlife tourism industry that supports conservation of native wildlife
  • work towards its mission proactively through collation of information; facilitation of research; education; liaison with governments and contributing to development of guidelines, policies & legislation for the benefit of wildlife tourism operators and conservation
  • promote communication and cooperation between wildlife tourism stakeholders, including operators, tourism industry organisations, government tourism and conservation staff, local communities involved in wildlife tourism, academics and wildlife-related NGOs.
  • focus principally on viewing and interpretation of native Australian animals in the wild and in captivity



‘Communication’: Provide a forum for collation and dissemination of knowledge, and communication between wildlife tourism stakeholders

Suggested mechanisms:

  • Establishment of a website ( this was done in the first year, and continues to be maintained and updated)
  • Annual workshop or conference (current plans are for a conference every two years, and workshops at other times)
  • Collation of information and ideas in a user-friendly format, to be made available primarily through website
  • Discussion forum, linked to website or email (now includes social media)
  • Liaison with wildlife tourism researchers (to help facilitate appropriate research, and disseminate results of research) (now includes  our Wildlife Research Network)


‘High Standards’: Support development of high standards in wildlife tourism product design and interpretation

Suggested mechanisms:

  • Develop (or liaise with stakeholders to develop) materials to support high quality wildlife interpretation
  • Develop (or liaise with stakeholders to develop) guidelines, codes of practice etc.
  • Develop (or liaise with stakeholders to develop) mechanisms to reward operators with high standards of product design, interpretation and conservation involvement
  • Provide input into accreditation schemes regarding wildlife tourism aspects


‘Low Environmental Impacts’: Promote appropriate management and monitoring to minimise negative environmental impacts of wildlife tourism

Suggested mechanisms:

  • Review (or liaise with stakeholders to review) current funding arrangements
  • Develop (or liaise with stakeholders to develop) guidelines for determining priorities re management and monitoring
  • Lobby and educate to enhance funding for management and monitoring
  • Support research to determine environmental impacts of wildlife tourism, and the most effective mechanisms for management.
  • Develop (or liaise with stakeholders to develop) guidelines, codes of practice etc.
  • Provide input into accreditation schemes re wildlife tourism aspects


‘Conservation’:  Promote enhanced links between wildlife tourism and conservation, principally in relation to native Australian animals

Suggested mechanisms:

  • Develop (with stakeholders) initiatives and incentives to promote enhanced involvement of wildlife/ nature tourism operators in conservation and reward operators who already make substantial contributions to conservation
  • Develop (with stakeholders) initiatives to support landowners adopting wildlife/ nature tourism in conjunction with conservation on their properties (where this is economically viable)
  • Joint education of regulators, land managers, operators
  • Develop strategies in liaison with government
  • Review and reduce legal and bureaucratic obstacles to participation by tourism operators in conservation programs


‘Promotion and Awareness’: Promote sustainable wildlife tourism and raise awareness of the benefits and costs of wildlife tourism (economic and conservation-related)

Suggested mechanisms:

  • Discussions with government(s) and other bodies on particular issues of concern to members
  • Input into government policies, strategies, legislation etc. (includes submissions, and sharing outcomes of workshop discussions)