Wildlife Tourism: Overcoming Hurdles

Webinars: Monday 21st to Wednesday 23rd June 2021

We were to have run a conference at Griffith University in 2020 (click here for the three webinar sessions we ran instead) but were prevented by the very necessary lockdown for coronavirus. We are now planning a physical conference in Brisbane for 2022 (details soon, but probably first week of November 2022)

A report on the first turtle workshop is now available by clicking here

For reports on the webinar proceedings click here

Wildlife Tourism: Overcoming Hurdles


Monday 21 June

8.00 – 9.00am Brisbane time – Marine turtle workshop (1st session)

  • 8.00am General welcome and introduction
  • 8.05am Problems and possible (at least partial) solutions
    • Poaching
    • Disturbance of nesting turtles
    • By-catch
    • Climate change
    • Educating the public and government
    • Plastics and other pollutants – ingestion and entanglement
    • Other
  • 8.55am Moving the group to WeNaturalists for further discussion and networking
  • 9.00am Close


1.30-3.30pm – Presentations and discussions

  • 1.30pm Welcome and general information
  • Covid effects on wildife and wildlife tourism
    • 1.45pm Wildlife and wildlife tourism: before, during and after lockdown. Dr David Newsome, Murdoch University (15 minutes plus 5 mins Q&A)
    • 2.05pm 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 (15 minutes plus 5 mins Q&A)
    • 2.25pm 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) (10 minutes plus 5 mins Q&A)
    • 2.40pm Redeveloping the East coast tourism in Sri Lanka with domestic tourists/ Dr. Madura Thivanka Pathirana (10 minutes plus 5 mins Q&A)
    • 2.55pm 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 (10 minutes plus 5 mins Q&A)
  • 3.10pm General discussion
  • 3.30 Close


Tuesday 22 June

1.30-3.30pm – Presentations and discussions

130pm Welcome and general information

  • Marine turtles
    • 1.35pm Problems facing marine turtles what can we do? Ms. Jennifer Gilbert , Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. (15 minutes plus 5 minutes Q&A)
    • 1.55 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 (10 minutes plus 5 minutes Q&A)
  • Conservation issues involving other species
    • 2.10pm 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)
  • Getting conservation messages across to tourists
    • 2.25pm Engaging young wildlife tourists in conservation long after they leave sustainable wildlife tourism facilitie. Dr Sarah Pye (10 minutes plus 5 minutes Q&A)
    • 2.40pm 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 (10 minutes plus 5 minutes Q&A)
  • 2.55pm General discussion. Including continuing discussion of yesterday’s topics
  • 3.30pm Close


7.00-8.00pm Final turtle workshop

This will partly be repetition of the first for those who could not manage both time slots, but also building on what we discussed in the first workshop https://www.wildlifetourism.org.au/turtle-workshops-june-2021/, and in addition: how can tourism assist turtle conservation and research?


Wednesday 23 June

1.30-3.30pm – Presentations and discussions

130pm Welcome and general information

  • Tourist attitudes to wildlife
    • 1.35pm Combatting the bat’s negative image. Maree Kerr and Sera Steves, WTA executive committee (10 minutes plus 5 minutes Q&A)
    • 1.50pm Wildlife Tourism Experiences at the Maasai Mara, Kenya Ms Irene Njeri Kaberere and Birendra KC
    • 2.05pm Further discussion on this topic
  • 215pm Obstacles to small business recovery – each will involve an introduction followed by discussion
    • Insurance and legal issues
    • Other financial issues
    • Switching from international to domestic focus
    • Dealing with negative reviews
    • Other
  • 2.50pm General discussion on all topi s for all three days
  • 3.25pm Concluding remarks
  • 3.30pm Close



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-based 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.

BIO Angus M Robinson

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.



Anup K C

Tribhuvan University, Nepal

Ph.D. Student, Clemson University, Department of Parks Recreation and Tourism Management, USA

THEME: COVID-19 effects


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) had disturbed the global economy and tourism in 2020. Homestay tourism has been taken as an important sector for economic development and livelihood enhancement in rural Nepal. Highly diverse nature and culture are its main attractions. As homestay is an alternative source of income in the rural areas, people have to depend on agricultural and forest resources. Very few research articles are focused on 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 is prepared by conducting online in-depth interviews with homestay stakeholders and by reviewing online English newspaper articles published in Nepal. After the first positive case was detected on January 23, 2020, in Nepal, the Government of Nepal started becoming careful towards its prevention. Then, the complete and partial lockdown was imposed 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. And from April 26, 2021, lockdown was again imposed due to second wave of COVID-19. Before the second wave, rescue of international tourists was carried out from national and international flights. Promotion of domestic tourism in Nepal was given high priority by following health, hygiene, and safety measures. Tourism infrastructural development and maintenance work was carried out in lockdown period. When the guests were not there in homestays, homestay operators were involved in agriculture and animal keeping. They have started collecting firewood as they were free. There were some incidents of animal poaching and increase in fishing incidents in some parts of the country. Community forest and protected area regulations were limiting the illegal activities. Homestay operators are hopeful of reviving their tourism activities soon.

Wildlife Tourism Experiences at the Maasai Mara, Kenya

Irene Njeri Kaberere (MS) and Birendra KC (PhD)1

1Department 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. 

Title: Representing Wild Animals to Humans: The Ethical Future of Wildlife TourismAuthors: Georgette Leah Burns (Griffith University, Australia) and Judith Benz-Schwarzburg

(Messerli Research Institute, Austria).Subtheme: Tourism assisting conservation

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.

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. 


Maree Treadwell Kerr and Sera Steves

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. 


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. 


You may like to also, check out our webinars we held in June 2020


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