Koedoe : African Protected Area Conservation and Science
Environmental Policy | Forest Management
Three significant trends are converging with the result of increasing the importance of understanding and managing the nexus of tourism and protected areas. Firstly, international travel and tourism continues to grow significantly, resulting in more people wanting to visit, learn and appreciate their natural and cultural heritage. Secondly, international conservation efforts are increasingly dependent on protected areas serving as the cornerstone of slowing (ideally stopping) the loss of biological diversity. Thirdly, demands from society on protected areas are not only increasing, they are diversifying as well. Increased demand is, in part, the result of a growing human population that competes for space with natural areas and its wildlife through other land uses such as agriculture. Diversifying because protected areas are increasingly viewed as a source of monetary revenue and ecosystem-based benefits, such as health for humans, as engines of local livelihood development, as mechanisms for catalysing 'peace' on a transboundary scale and even as models of governance. These three trends accelerate the need for not only greater institutional capability to manage visitors and tourism development - which are amongst the most significant capacity needs, according to the World Commission on Protected Areas (2012) - but also more knowledge about visitor preferences, their behaviour, needs, spending patterns and social and environmental impacts. The convergence of these three trends also poses new challenges and opportunities not just for the conservation movement but for civil society as well.
© 2014 the authors
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McCool, S.F. & Spenceley, A., 2014, ‘Tourism and protected areas: A growing nexus of challenge and opportunity’, Koedoe 56(2), Art. #1221, 2 pages. http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v56i2.1221