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Wildlife Tourism

Newsome, D. and Rodger, K. (2013) Wildlife Tourism. In: Holden, A. and Fennell, D., (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Tourism and the Environment. Routledge, New York, pp. 345-358.


Wildlife human interactions play a significant and growing role in the tourism industry. In its broadest terms, wildlife tourism can incorporate both fauna and flora. Yet, in most cases wildlife tourism refers to the watching and interacting with animals and can include both free-ranging and captive wildlife (Newsome et al. 2005; UNEP/CMS 2006). However, for this chapter the focus will be on wildlife tourism where humans watch, and in some circumstances interact, with wildlife in their natural environment. This is similar to the US Fish & Wildlife Service, who include observing, photographing and feeding of wildlife in their definition of wildlife tourism (US Fish and Wildlife Service 2006). The desire for people to interact with wildlife in the natural environment continues to grow in popularity. & a result, visitation to sites with wildlife is on the increase (Tisdell and Wilson 2004; Newsome et al. 2005; Rodger et al. 2007). In the United States alone, over 71 million people are reported to have participated in at least one wildlife tourism activity such as observing, photographing or feeding of wildlife. Globally, the market size of wildlife tourism has been estimated at 12 million trips annually with a growth rate of 10 per cent per year. It is estimated that the global wildlife market is now worth approximately £30 billion, with up to 3 million people each year taking a holiday to specifically view wildlife (Mintel 2008). Correspondingly over the last several years, incremental growth has been seen in the type of wildlife tourism activities, different types of interactions and the number of businesses offering wildlife tourism worldwide (Curtin 2010). Recent research in Scotland found that wildlife tourism annually results in a net economic contribution of £65 million to Scotland's economy and creates the equivalent of 2,760 full-time jobs (Scottish Government 2010). Similarly, as in other forms of nature-based tourism, the growth in wildlife tourism has been accompanied by increasing concerns over negative impacts and its future sustainability (Higham and Luck 2008; Newsome et al. 2005; Stamation 2008; Rodger et al. 2010a). Due to the multidimensional nature of wildlife tourism, sustainable management can be difficult to achieve (Stamation 2008). The objective of this chapter, therefore, is to provide an overview of wildlife tourism by examining three areas that relate to its increasing popularity: the different types of wildlife tourists and activities, the role of marketing and visitor expectations, and the complexity of understanding negative impacts and the continuing sustainability of the industry.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Publisher: Routledge
Copyright: © 2013 Andrew Holden and David Fennell
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