Academic journal article Journal of Tourism Challenges and Trends

Strategic Management of Ecotourism: An Australian Perspective

Academic journal article Journal of Tourism Challenges and Trends

Strategic Management of Ecotourism: An Australian Perspective

Article excerpt


Ecotourism has emerged as a significant phenomenon in recent decades and "is probably equally due to the widespread and growing interest in the natural environment and a corresponding recognition of the importance of conserving natural environmental quality' (Orams, 1995).

Richardson (1993) points out the specificity of ecotourism. It is not only naturebased and participatory, but it has a strong emphasis on the interpretation and understanding of the environments. Ecotourists try to comprehend the cultures visited in order to achieve conservation of those environments and cultures.

As a general term it is called nature-based travel. Hector Ceballos-Lascurain, (1988) a known arhitecht, environmentalist and international ecotourism consultant from Mexico defined ecotourism as follows: "...travelling to relatively undisturbed natural areas with the specific object of studying, admiring, and enjoying the scenery and its wild plants and animals, as well as any existing cultural aspects (both of the past or present) found in these areas...' (Richardson, 1993)

According to Oram (1995), based on a range of definitions, ecotourism refferes to forms of tourism that are:

a. based upon relatively undisturbed natural areas;

b. non-damaging, non-degrading;

c. a direct contributor to the continued protection and management of the protected areas used;

d. subject to an adequate and appropriate management regime.

The basic objective of ecotourism is to control interaction between tourists and the natural environment by:

1. Protecting the environment from detrimental impacts

2. Provide for and promote enjoyable tourist experiences

Takeing all the above into account, one observes that a typical form of Australian ecotourism is bushwalking. According to Russell Blamey: "The average annual growth rate in visitation of bushwalkers was 11% over the period 1989-1994, only slightly higher than the average annual growth rate of 10% for all international tourists, and less than the equivalent growth rate of 13% for those indicating holiday as main purpose of visit. The number of bushwalkers increased by 66% over the period. The average annual growth rate for participation in outback safari tours was 11%, corresponding to an increase of 70% over the period 1989-1994. For the period 1989-1993, participation in scuba diving/snorkelling increased at 11% on average each year, an increase of 53% over the period".

It is interesting that many of the bushwalkers are not Australians, and the number of foreign tourists coming into Australia for bushwalking increased steadily. Between 1989 and 1993, data proves that the growth rate for bushwalking is particularly high among visitors from Japan (32% a year), other Europe (28%), Germany (20%), and Asia (19%). The growth rate for all inbound visitation over the period 1989-1993 is 9%, and for visitation with the main purpose of holiday, it is 11%, therefore bushwalking is an important attraction.

Taking into account other forms of nature-based tourism that foreign tourists prefer in Australia, particularly high growth in participation in outback safari tours is apparent among visitors from Germany (47% a year), other Europe (44%), and Japan (37%). With respect to scuba diving / snorkelling, outstanding growth is found among visitors from Japan (32% a year), other Europe (27%), and Germany (19%). (Blamey, 1995).

It is bushwalking, outback safari tours and scuba diving/snorkelling that are perhaps most relevant to ecotourism in Australia, both for local tourists and foreign ones. Nevertheles, the results for these three activities provide little support for the claim that ecotourism growth exceeds that for tourism in general.

As a result of the high growth rates in inbound tourism we must be more diligent to look after our environment as it is our future in Australia for generating income for a significant part of the economy. …

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