Wide-ranging biodiversity and impressive natural landscapes are two of the most critical factors that drive tourists to specific destinations. With increasing numbers of people choosing to visit areas for natural beauty, it’s no wonder that enormous pressure has been put on these environments. However, that doesn’t mean that tourism is always harmful to nature. This article explores some of the ways in which tourism benefits the environment and wildlife.
Tourism provides limitless opportunities for people to learn about the environments that they are visiting. In addition, by connecting with nature during travels, tourists are more likely to become invested in protecting that natural habitat.
When tourists get home, they can help by passing on the message too. That could involve launching a local campaign or hosting a discussion forum. It could be as simple as wearing an shark bracelet to promote awareness about shark species being harmed by overfishing or telling friends about the issue of coral bleaching at the Great Barrier Reef. Even simple steps like these can be beneficial. Another example of this is that whale watching has been proven to heighten the participants’ understanding of marine mammals and the issues they face, causing people to act in conservation.
Simply by visiting somewhere, tourists are putting into the local economy. For many tourist destinations, ecotourism prevails, meaning that the environment is protected and any money earned is reinvested in either conservation or supporting local people. For instance, SANParks – which manages all of South Africa’s national parks – gain over 80% of their income from ecotourism.
Increasing community support
Wildlife tourism supports approximately 22 million jobs worldwide and contributes over $120 billion to global GDP figures. This growing trend toward sustainable tourism can stimulate local communities to protect their environments and native species to attract more tourists. Without the tourists, local people may see wild animals as simply a threat or a food source. With the tourists, they can appreciate how their lives can be improved by visitors spending money.
Local people can also be given jobs directly through tourism. For example, by employing people from the area as guides, chefs, cleaners, etc., people have a new opportunity to work in a variety of different fields, all of which are supported by tourism. Locals can live off the land in a way that doesn’t exploit their natural resources or environment. In fact, tourism has been shown to provide five times more revenue than animal exploitation.