Can wildlife tourism make money and also help conserve wildlife?

One of the reasons I personally went into ecotourism was to provide governments, developers etc. with an economic reason for preserving wildlife and its habitats (my other main reason was to share my enthusiasm with others for the wonderful diversity of wild creatures and wild places on this planet, and hopefully in so doing  to deepen their understanding of the same, and appreciation of their intrinsic non-monetary values).

One of the positive benefits of wildlife tourism towards tourism conservation has long been identified as the potential for donations towards conservation, from  tourism operators, their guests and perhaps local businesses and governments that directly or indirectly benefit from the tourism dollar.

But to give we need to also receive –  at least   enough to keep giving without going broke.    And tourism operations that make non-financial contributions (e.g. habitat restoration, quality interpretation, conservation-breeding) have to make enough to survive.  It also helps if the local community benefits, and  continues to support their efforts.

Can all this happen, either at an individual operator level or a regional level?

regent bowerbirdOne of Australia’s best-published economics researchers (amongst the top three in the country according to Wikipedia) – Clem Tisdell –  has conducted many studies on the economics of wildlife tourism in Australia and elsewhere, including amongst many other topics rainforests and glow worm caves in Southeast Queensland,  Antarctic voyages and an elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka. Apart from individual studies he has provided a number of very useful and wide-ranging review papers.

We will have a chance to hear Professor Tisdell’s latest information and advice at the Wild Benefits conference to be held at the Gold Coast 1st to 3rd September 2010, and it will be a great opportunity to ask him questions (and listen to his answers to the questions of others, both immediately after his presentation and at other times during the conference).

This is the third national wildlife tourism conference to be held in Australia. There are day registrations and student registrations available, ad the earlybird discount registration is open until the end of July.

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