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Wildlife tours in Australia: characteristics, the place of science and sustainable futures

Rodger, K., Moore, S.A. and Newsome, D. (2007) Wildlife tours in Australia: characteristics, the place of science and sustainable futures. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 15 (2). pp. 160-179.

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Wildlife tourism is one of the fastest growing tourism sectors worldwide. Across the world the number of tourists seeking close interaction with wildlife in their natural environment is growing. Understanding the interface between visitors (social) and wildlife (environmental) can make a critical contribution to the sustainability of this industry. This study examined wildlife tours in Australia. Questionnaires were posted to wildlife tour operators in Tasmania, Western Australia and Northern Territory, seeking information on the characteristics of tours, and the place of science and monitoring in their business. The results illustrate several similarities between wildlife and ecotourism, suggesting the benefits of increasing education and interpretation, both central features of ecotourism, to enhancing the sustainability of wildlife tourism. For tour operators, interactive activities included feeding, swimming with and touching wildlife, and the level of interaction was identified as high, making it imperative to better define interaction and develop species or group-specific protocols for sustainably managing these interactions. Lastly, this study showed a low level of engagement of scientists in protecting the wildlife of interest to tours. Given the centrality of science to sustainability, mechanisms for increasing this involvement particularly in impact research, through partnerships and other means, are critical for the long term sustainability of this industry.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Publisher: Channel View Publications
Copyright: © 2007 K. Rodger et al
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