Two way track - biodiversity conservation and ecotourism: an investigation of linkages, mutual benefits and future opportunities

Preece, Noel, Van Oosterzee, Penny, and James, David (1995) Two way track - biodiversity conservation and ecotourism: an investigation of linkages, mutual benefits and future opportunities. Report. Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, ACT, Australia.

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[Extract] Tourism is one of Australia's fastest growing industries. It is a major source of foreign exchange, gross domestic product, income and employment; in 1991-92 tourism expenditure amounted to an estimated $26.2 billion, equivalent to 5.5 per cent of GDP. During the last decade, a trend emerged world wide for nature-based tourism and ecotourism. This study reveals that Australia's tourism industry is a major user of biological resources. In addition to nature-based and ecotourism in Australia, many aspects of tourism, through both marketing and actual experience, are dependent on Australia's natural environment. The health of Australia's biodiversity will be a major factor in determining the expansion of the tourism industry. In turn, the tourism industry can be a major force in the conservation of Australia biodiversity.

This report is the result of a study commissioned by the Biodiversity Unit in the Environmental Strategies Directorate of the Commonwealth Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories to investigate the potential for integrating biodiversity conservation with ecotourism. Its main objective is to identify and where possible assess the potential long-term benefits and opportunities of strategically integrating biodiversity conservation requirements with the future needs of the nature-based and eco-tourism industry. It presents a national approach to formulating and implementing strategic plans to enable this integration.

The need for an integrated approach, based on regional planning for biodiversity conservation and the development of tourism, has been recognised in a number of important policy documents, including the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development, the Final Reports of the ESD Working Groups (in particular Tourism), the National Ecotourism Strategy, the National Rural Tourism Strategy and the draft National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity.

All States and Territories have produced policy documents on ecotourism or tourism, and have assessed the state of their environment in relation to biodiversity conservation to some degree. They generally recognise the fundamental importance of natural resources to tourism. Some have also recognised that tourism based activities have a basic requirement to channel some of the revenue gained from using natural resources into the management and sustenance of those natural resources.

While the policy and administrative mechanisms for placing values on the use of natural resources are mostly in place, the challenge will be to design and implement systems that will link the growth of tourism with biodiversity conservation.

The approach recommended in this report is based on the relationship between nature-based tourism and ecotourism, and tourism generally, and the identification and management of key bioregions throughout Australia. The report argues for a detailed assessment of the ecological characteristics and natural features that attract tourists to special areas.

In meeting this challenge, the report finds that too much debate has revolved about the term 'ecotourism'. We argue for a more flexible approach to the interrelationships between tourism and biodiversity conservation. This approach will necessarily embrace many different aspects of the tourism industry, not just nature-based tourism and ecotourism (NBE), therefore providing many different levels of experience of nature and traditional culture. Our reference to 'NBE' throughout this report implies this broader view.

Profiles and preferences of tourists are not well analysed nor understood at this point in time. Although some initiatives have been commenced, better information is needed on tourists' desires, expectations and needs. More precise information is needed on tourist activity and fulfilment, across the tourism spectrum.

The links between the tourism trade and the need for environmental management in key bioregions can be analysed in terms of benefit-cost studies and regional economic models. The report presents abundant evidence to demonstrate the economic value of natural areas to tourism, and the regional implications for employment, investment and income.

There is a need for industry and governments to improve the marketing and conduct of the tourism trade as it relates to Australia's natural resources, and for the tourism industry to be better informed about its environmental responsibilities.

One of the major impediments to more effective protection of biodiversity is a lack of funds for research and management purposes. The report notes a wide range of funding mechanisms and economic instruments that could be introduced to support biodiversity programs.

Tourism is often used as a political, economic and social justification for reservation and retention of areas of natural habitat, but this is usually an ad hoc process, reflecting the politics of the day.

This report proposes mechanisms whereby tourism can be an effective force in the conservation of biodiversity, both for the benefit of the industry and for the intrinsic and economic values of biodiversity. Recognising that a large proportion of tourism depends directly on natural resources, and that much is focused on protected areas, tourism is identified as a key industry sector which has a legitimate right and an obligation to contribute to the debate about, policy formulation for, and implementation of biodiversity conservation measures.

This report recognises that all of tourism must be ecologically sustainable, and that, for this to be successful, it must contribute to the long-term maintenance of ecosystems and species. Simply to 'minimise impacts' is not enough since, with tourism growth, this will result in incremental damage and inevitable environmental deterioration. There can be no net environmental deterioration if the industry is to be ecologically sustainable. Active management which requires resources is needed in all situations. Tourism has a significant responsibility to contribute to the management of the natural resources on which it is dependent.

The ecologically sustainable development (ESD) process must be revitalised through the accelerated implementation of the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development. It has advanced considerably Australia's commitment to become ecologically sustainable, and the ESD process has the support of all major industry sectors, including tourism. Industry support was an achievement in itself.

Item ID: 20699
Item Type: Report (Report)
ISBN: 978-0-642-22697-6
Keywords: biodiversity
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2017 02:21
FoR Codes: 15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1506 Tourism > 150603 Tourism Management @ 50%
15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1506 Tourism > 150605 Tourism Resource Appraisal @ 50%
SEO Codes: 90 COMMERCIAL SERVICES AND TOURISM > 9003 Tourism > 900301 Economic Issues in Tourism @ 50%
90 COMMERCIAL SERVICES AND TOURISM > 9003 Tourism > 900302 Socio-Cultural Issues in Tourism @ 50%
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