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Wildlife Tourism: Overcoming Hurdles

Marine turtle workshops 1 and 2

See: https://www.wildlifetourism.org.au/turtle-workshops-june-2021/,


Covid effects on wildlife and wildlife tourism

Wildlife and wildlife tourism: before, during and after lockdown. Dr David Newsome, Murdoch University

Wildlife tourism amid COVID and recovery options. Dr Anna Spenceley, CEO – STAND Ltd, Chair – IUCN WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group & Director – Global Sustainable Tourism Council

The National Geotourism Strategy – Diversifying Nature Based Tourism for the Benefit of both Domestic and International Travellers. Angus M Robinson, Coordinator, National Geotourism Strategy, Australian Geoscience Council (AGC)

Redeveloping the East coast tourism in Sri Lanka with domestic tourists. Dr. Madura Thivanka Pathirana

Homestay stakeholders’ actions towards tourism revival and wildlife and forest resources in Nepal in the Covid-19 era. Anup K C, Tribhuvan University, Nepal, Ph.D. Student, Clemson University, Department of Parks Recreation and Tourism Management, USA

Marine turtles

Also see  https://www.wildlifetourism.org.au/turtle-workshops-june-2021/

Problems facing marine turtles what can we do? Ms. Jennifer Gilbert , Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre.

Sea Turtle Conservation Tourism and Environmental Education: A Pilot Study at Hazako Nature Center, Japan. Zhuolin QIU and Thomas E. Jones, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University

Conservation issues involving other species

Wildlife Tourism and Conservation of Endangered Big Cats in Iran. Pouyan Saghatoleslami, Co-Founder & CMO, Visit Our Iran and Simin Maleknia, Executive Committee, Wildlife Tourism Australia Inc

Getting conservation messages across to tourists

Engaging young wildlife tourists in conservation long after they leave sustainable wildlife tourism facilitie. Dr Sarah Pye

Representing Wild Animals to Humans: The Ethical Future of Wildlife Tourism Georgette Leah Burns (Griffith University, Australia) and Judith Benz-Schwarzburg, Messerli Research Institute, Austria

Tourist attitudes to wildlife

Combatting the bat’s negative image. Maree Kerr and Sera Steves, WTA executive committee

Wildlife Tourism Experiences at the Maasai Mara, Kenya Ms Irene Njeri Kaberere and Birendra KC 

Obstacles to small business recovery – each will involving an introduction followed by discussion

  • Insurance and legal issues
  • Other financial issuesSwitching from international to domestic focus

Scroll down for abstracts and pdf’s of presentations


Covid effects on wildife and wildlife tourism

Wildlife and wildlife tourism: before, during and after lockdown.

Dr David Newsome (Murdoch University)

Presentation (5.6mb):

Wildlife tourism amid COVID and recovery options.

Dr Anna Spenceley, CEO – STAND Ltd, Chair – IUCN WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group & Director – Global Sustainable Tourism Council

Click here to view the full video presentation

Covid-19 Effects Diversifying Offers and Attracting Domestic Customers Through Implementation of the National Geotourism Strategy

Angus M Robinson (Coordinator, National Geotourism Strategy, Australian Geoscience Council (AGC))

As a response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the peak geoscience body, the AGC, is currently implementing the recently launched National Geotourism Strategy, and which is being designed to support the orderly development of major geotourism projects and activities in line with overseas trends and domestic regional development imperatives. Tourism Industry development benefits can be realised through the holistic approach of geotourism which enhances the value of traditionally structured, nature-basiju=980ed tourism by generating new product development (i.e., including geology, landscape, flora and fauna, as well as cultural heritage attributes, both Aboriginal and post European settlement).  In essence, geotourism, which focuses on an area’s geology and landscape actually embraces ecotourism and ‘indigenous tourism’.  At the same time, the pursuit of geotourism offers the potential for new industries and employment opportunities through the development of major projects throughout Australia.

The National Geotourism Strategy has seven strategic goals. These span pathways for identifying and implementing major geotourism projects, to the development of digital platforms to provide information for travellers on geological features in the landscape. The Strategy links three ‘geos’ – recognising our geoheritage and establishing new geotrails e.g., the Warrumbungles National Park Geotrails that are exemplars for celebrating geotourism.  

One of these goals is to develop and enhance the geoscience interpretation and communication skills of everyone actively involved in the presentation of geosites, enabling the provision of accurate and thematic information in an accessible manner. This goal has two main objectives to firstly improve the interpretation skills of geoscientists working at the frontline of geotourism, and secondly to improve the geoscientific accuracy of information prepared by interpretation specialists who may not have any geoscience background. The fulfilment of this second objective is aimed at assisting ‘ecoguide’ and/or wildlife guide groups such as the Savannah Guides who are participating in this program.

Full presentation (1.5mb):

BIO Angus M Robinso

An exploration geologist by profession, Angus established Leisure Solutions® in 1993 joining Ecotourism Australia as an early member. In recent years he has served as Coordinator, National Geotourism Strategy for the Australian Geoscience Council and is also a member and inaugural chair of the Geotourism Forum of Ecotourism Australia.

After 25 years working in information and communication technology and manufacturing industry development roles in an executive capacity, he has been engaged in ecotourism  activities in Queensland’s Scenic Rim as an eco-certified tour operator as well as developing geotourism in the Red Centre, Blue Mountains and Flinders Ranges national landscape areas. Angus is also a member of Wildlife Tourism Australia and a long-standing Governor of the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife.

Redeveloping the East coast wild life tourism in Sri Lanka with domestic tourists 

Dr. Madura Thivanka Pathirana 


East coast (Eastern province) is a remote tourist destination located nearly 400KM away from Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. Many wildlife attractions are available on East Coast and among them are Kumana national park, Arugam bay beach, Passikudah beach, and Pigeon Island and Panama lake Crocodiles are some of them. The international visitors’ attraction and favorability to those are very high despite the traveling time. However, the favorability to travel to the East coast to view the wildlife among domestic travelers is very low till now. 

 This paper is focusing on how to redevelop East coast wildlife tourism focusing on domestic travelers to have economic and social sustainability as a touristdestination. To collect the data set, Arugambay surf destination was selected.The qualitative research methodology was applied and the data set was collectedusing interviews from selected stakeholders in Augambay. A total of 5participants have participated in the interviews. The research was carriedout during the time that international tourists were restricted to arrive inSri Lanka and domestic tourism were identified as key survival strategies. 

   Value net model was applied to understand how to create value to the domestic traveller and service providers while redeveloping the wildlife tourism in East coast. As data revealed the cost of the destination should reduce, facilities should generate to local tourists, service suppliers should regenerate their service offering to suit the local tourist, perceptions of the service suppliers should change to accept the local tourist and proper destination marketing strategy should implement to attract local tourists. It was evident wildlife tourism is underdeveloped in this region to cater the domestic tourists and proper value creation should implement to grab the attention of the domestic traveller.

This research was limited only to Arugambay and application of the findings to the other East coast destinations believed to be applicable to redevelop those destinations. 

Homestay Stakeholders’ Actions Towards Tourism Revival and Wildlife and Forest Resources in Nepal in The Covid-19 Era

Anup K C (Tribhuvan University, Nepal, Ph.D. Student, Clemson University, Department of Parks Recreation and Tourism Management, USA)


Coronavirus (COVID-19) disturbed the global economy and tourism in 2020. International travel and tourism were most affected in different countries. Lockdown (complete and partial) was imposed for long duration in different countries, including Nepal. Homestay tourism is an important sector for economic development and livelihood enhancement in rural Nepal where highly diverse nature and culture are the main attractions. Homestay tourism is an alternative source of income in rural areas where people depend on agricultural and forest resources. News agencies and reports have highlighted impact on wildlife and forest resources during lockdown and low tourist movement in wildlife tourism destinations. Very few research articles focus on the intersection of COVID-19 issues, homestay tourism, and forest resources in Nepal. There is a need to assess homestay stakeholders’ action towards wildlife and forest resources during COVID-19 in Nepal. This paper was prepared by conducting 20 online in-depth interviews with homestay stakeholders and by reviewing 219 online English newspaper articles published in Nepal. Press release of Nepal Tourism Board, Ministry of Health and Population, and Department of Immigration were followed along with the publications of Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation. After the first positive COVID-19 case was detected in Nepal on January 23, 2020, the Government imposed complete and partial lockdowns for many months starting from March 24, 2020. After lockdown was lifted on July 21, 2020, the cases started increasing rapidly till the end of November. From April 26, 2021, lockdown was again imposed due to a second wave of COVID-19. Before the second wave, rescue of international tourists was carried out who were stuck in different tourism destinations of Nepal. Promotion of domestic tourism in Nepal was given high priority by following health, hygiene, and safety measures. Tourism infrastructure development and maintenance work was carried out during the lockdown period. When the guests were not in homestays, homestay operators were involved in agriculture and animal keeping and started collecting firewood and fodder. There were incidents of animal poaching and increased fishing in some parts of the country. Human-wildlife conflicts were also observed in some areas. There were increased human activities and slight increase in human-wildlife conflicts. But, electric fencing and nets were helping to reduce human-wildlife conflicts. Community forest and protected area regulations limited the illegal activities. Homestay operators are hopeful towards receiving more tourism benefits in the future from conservation activities they are involved in now.


Leah Burns:Did you say elephanthant polo?

Anup KC: yes, elephant polo in Nepal

Leah Burns: thanks – just googled it

Sera Steves: I didn’t know it was still happening

Anip K C: Yes, elephant polo is stopped now due to the concern over elephant

David Newsome: I am pleased to hear that


Marine turtles

Problems facing marine turtles what can we do? 

Ms. Jennifer Gilbert , Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. www.cairnsturtlerehab.org.au



  • Abeer: Thank you jennie Gilbert for the valuable presentation about marine turtles, I’m wondering if you can share this presentation to me by email
  • Maree Treadwell Just fyi, this is an award for animal conservationists which includes $250,000 http://indianapolisprize.org/sites/prize/SitePages/Home.aspx. Jennie would be a great person to nominate to this award.
  • Madura Thivanka Lets nominate Jennie for this.
  • Maree Treadwell Thank you very much Jennie for joining our workshops.
  • Madura Thivanka02:10:35Jennie do you have social media page or a website to be connected?
  • jennie gilbert02:11:01www.cairnsturtlerehab.org.au
  • jennie gilbert02:11:17cairns turtle rehabilitation centre facebook page
  • Madura Thivanka Thank you
  • Abeer Dr. Ronda, if it’s possible to arrange another online workshop and make more discussions with the group about turtles conservation, problems and challenges and maybe it could be good extra chance to talk more about my association and what we are running for education and awareness
  • jennie gilbert great idea
  • LeahHi Abeer. We had two sessions dedicated to this, one on Monday at 08:00 (Brisbane time) and 19:00 on Tuesday.
  • Ronda Green I won’t have time this month, but happy tp support and publicise if someone else sets this up
  • Abeer yes I know that, but I’m wondering if it’s possible to make another extra sessions .
  • Ronda Green If someone else volunteers to do it,yes
  • Abeer shall we contact people in the Turtle network we launched already and check how we can set it up
  • Maree Treadwell Maybe we could have a series of turtle workshops for a few hours each time over next couple of months to build from these sessions.
  • Ronda Green Abeer, you could set up a Zoom meeting and invite others to it. It’s fairly easy to do
  • Maree Treadwell Just have to promote it to each of the participants and to the network, maybe using we naturalist group.
  • Leah Abeer. We would like to hear more about your organisation and are also always looking for information to put on our website. Perhaps you could write something for that?
  • Abeer Thank you Maree, actually I would like to talk more about Jordan case and challenges in front of my association work in all sides of Turtles conservation
  • Abeer I’m glad to share my association story and my challenges to all of you
  • Abeer for sure Leah, maybe I can prepare article about that and ask Dr. Ronda to publish it in WTA website

Sea Turtle Conservation Tourism and Environmental Education: A Pilot Study at Hazako Nature Center, Japan. 

Zhuolin QIU and Thomas E. Jones, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University 

Hazako Nature Center (HNC) is a sea turtle rehabilitation center located in Saiki City, Oita Prefecture, Japan. Tourists can interact first-hand with rescued sea turtles and raise their environmental awareness while developing wildlife tourism.

This research studied a sea turtle conservation program to investigate environmental education and its outcome on tourists’ pro-environmental decision-making process. The researcher conducted ethnographic fieldwork at HNC with a one-month internship in September 2020. At the end of the internship, an overnight program was conducted on 12 international students, and surveys used to evaluate the changes in pro-environmental attitude. A follow-up was conducted six months later in April 2021 via in-depth interviews with two of the students to study the longer-term influence on their environmental behaviour.

The key findings are as follows:

  1. HNC provides environmental education to the tourist by allowing them to interact with seaturtles and by displaying narratives of sea turtle conservation biology.
  2. Tourists’ pro-environmental awareness was enhanced by the contradiction between enjoying the pleasant natural environment with cute sea turtles and later directly observing thehuman-related marine plastic pollution’s negative influence on sea turtles.
  3. Tourists intend to alter their subsequent behaviours to increase benefits or reduce negative impact on sea turtles in their routine practices. Self-stated behavioural change after sixmonths mostly involved 3R (Reuse, Reduce, Recycling) related actions.

The findings suggest that wildlife tourism can provide an in-situ experience of marine conservation, including a beach clean-up which students found conducive to adopting pro-environmental attitudes and behaviour. Combining interpretive displays with sea turtle interaction in this tourism program could result in the students’ cognitive and behavioural change. Albeit only a pilot survey, results suggest educating tourists about sea turtle ecology and human impact on it could influence their environmental awareness and encourage pro-environmental behaviour. 

Conservation issues involving other species

Wildlife Tourism and Conservation of Endangered Big Cats in Iran.

Pouyan Saghatoleslami, Co-Founder & CMO, Visit Our Iran and Simin Maleknia, Executive Committee, Wildlife Tourism Australia Inc. (10 minutes plus 5 minutes Q&A)

Visit Our Iran is a leading tour operator in Iran, focusing on wildlife, nature, and undiscovered scenes, with a mission of providing eco-friendly and authentic experiences, such as living with the Persian nomads and locals. The team is working closely with the rangers in protected areas to preserve the endangered wildlife of Iran through sustainable tourism by raising awareness about the beauty and significance lying in the protected areas of Iran and inspiring the local people to learn of new ways to reconcile with nature, and also to promote unique wildlife tours into these wild frontiers.  

Visit Our Iran’s mission is to establish collaborative commitments with the international conservation groups and local conservation groups to protect wildlife in Iran. We believe introducing conservation efforts in Iran to the international conservation groups and academic institutions and inviting them to join wild life tours in Iran has led to successful wildlife conservation stories. Iran conservation groups focus are finding ways to improve the environment, protecting wildlife in general and the endangered species (e.g. wildcats), and also by educating the locals.

This presentation will describe collaborations with conservation groups such as The Persian Leopards Project in Iran, and the Wildlife Tourism Australia. Merging with the local communities through these projects has resulted in educating the locals about the precious animal species living around them, such as the endangered big cats. 

The most crucial threats to wildlife in Iran are illegal hunting, over-exploitation, and road network development. Through collaborations with Wildlife Tourism Australia, technologies to combat illegal wildlife trade and trafficking, and the integration of wildlife conservation with other land development and management are being explored.  

Downoad presentation (7.8mb)

Getting conservation messages across to tourists

Engaging young wildlife tourists in conservation long after they leave sustainable wildlife tourism facilitie.

Dr Sarah Pye (University of Sunshine Coast)

Representing Wild Animals to Humans: The Ethical Future of Wildlife Tourism

Dr Georgette Leah Burns (Griffith University, Australia) and Judith Benz-Schwarzburg (Messerli Research Institute, Austria)

Abstract: This presentation explores the ethics of representing wild animals to humans in the context of captive tourism settings, including zoos, shows and circuses. Attention to wildlife tourism ethics in published literature has been scarce, particularly in discussions about planning for the future. Here we address that gap by drawing on principles from an ecocentric framework for managing wildlife tourism and ideas from general animal ethics, and more specifically zoo ethics, debates. Conservation and welfare, in the context of captive wildlife tourism, are key values discussed, as are the ways animals are presented, and represented, to and for humans. How can we ensure these are ethically appropriate and follow values like conservation and animal welfare?

The presentation examines trends in wildlife tourism towards ‘disneyization’: entertainment that combines types of theming, consumption, merchandising and emotional labour that reinforce the exploitation of animals for the pleasure of people. Examples of this trend are offered and some of the ethical problems of them unpacked.

Looking to the future, we already see evidence of public unrest about the treatment of wildlife in captive settings and a potential growth in this is not unreasonable to expect. Some zoos and circuses are turning to technologically created animals, such as holograms and virtual reality experiences, as ways to overcome criticism, but even these representations of wildlife are not devoid of welfare issues.

We propose a future scenario for captive wildlife tourism to minimise ethical concerns. In this, the trend towards disneyization is halted, tourists educated about the intrinsic value of wildlife, and the use of live animals confined to situations where welfare issues are solved and beneficial conservation outcomes demonstrably outweigh any disadvantages to the species. As virtual and augmented displays expand, live animals should be kept in habitats as close to nature as possible and encountered only as something uniquely special and valuable.


Tourist attitudes to wildlife

Combatting the bat’s negative image:  The role of wildlife tourism, events and citizen science in mitigating human-wildlife conflict. A case study featuring the Spectacled flying-fox. 

Maree Kerr and Sera Steves, WTA executive committee


Wildlife tourism has been a successful strategy in mitigating many human-wildlife conflicts. Bats in particular are a misunderstood wildlife group that engenders many unfounded fears and misapprehensions, yet flyouts of both small and large bats are spectacular events. In Australia, international tourists love watching flying-foxes both in the daytime and their evening departures, but many Australians either take flyouts for granted or ignore this experience on their own doorstep. Many times have we heard from an overseas visitor, “This is the most amazing experience- where are all the people?”  

 COVId-19 has affected bat tourism in Australia in two ways- firstly a lack of overseas visitors and secondly, an increase in fears about bats due to bats being implicated as the original host COVID-19. The bat tourism industry, however, began as an education strategy to allay fears of disease and soon many farmers were putting up bat boxes in their farms. We will show how following this model can apply to the endangered Spectacled flying-fox of tropical north Queensland. 

We will describe a new citizen science product, Save Our Spectacled Flying-fox watch project, and how this can work in engaging the community in science, building a public will for conservation of the spectacled flying-fox and filling knowledge gaps to assist the newly formed Recovery Team. 

This project was launched early this month at the Cairns Bat Festival gala event and promoted through other Bat Festival components, the Bat Booth at EcoFiesta 2021 and the Flying Foxtail cocktail trail catching the attention of new audiences and engaging with local businesses and domestic markets. 

Full presentation (3mb):

Wildlife Tourism Experiences at the Maasai Mara, Kenya 

Ms Irene Njeri Kaberere and Birendra KC  (Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of North Texas)

[Email: birendra.kc@unt.edu]


Kenya is one of the leading tourism destinations in sub–Saharan Africa and marketed predominantly as a destination for wildlife tourism. Wildlife tourism in national parks and conservancies in Kenya is a significant source of revenue, a major source for both conservation and resident wellbeing. Studies on wildlife tourism in Kenya and customer/tourist satisfaction are insufficient. Existing studies fail to identify why tourism in certain major ecosystems, such as the Maasai Mara, fails to generate positive socio-economic and environmental impacts and yet revenues from tourism continue to show increased growth and potential in the country. There are insufficient studies that analyze tourist reviews about wildlife tourism destinations, yet reviews are used by many travelers widely as a basis to make travel decisions. 

This study analyzed tourist reviews and examined product features in the Maasai Mara ecosystem using the Kano Model. It then rated the features to determine the level of tourist satisfaction. A total of 800 reviews were used for thematic analysis to reflect five features of the Kano Model. The findings indicated that the exciting features, such as the great migration of wildebeests, are the highest contributors to tourist delight. Other basic features such as safety and service-related aspects also affect tourist satisfaction. The findings are useful to further improve the wildlife tourism experiences for tourists as well as to inform the government, the private industry, and community-based tourism organizations on ways to provide better and quality wildlife tourism experiences to tourists. The findings and their implications will be further discussed including the impact of COVID-19 on the management of wildlife tourism destinations. 

Obstacles to small business recovery 

Insurance and legal issues

Other financial issues

Switching from international to domestic focus

Dealing with negative reviews