Chapter 36: Botanic gardens as ecotourism sites
The potential of botanic gardens for ecotourism has often been overlooked in the literature and within the industry. There are various explanations as to why botanic gardens could be seen to challenge the ecotourism industry. Having been primarily established to study, exchange and display plants for research, education and public enjoyment, botanic gardens are most often regarded as cultural institutions. Consequently, botanic gardens are frequently associated with heritage, cultural and/or garden tourism. In contrast, ecotourism has often been discussed in the context of natural protected areas that have been perceived as undeveloped, undisturbed and pristine. While a limited view of appropriate settings and experiences for ecotourism dominated the literature in the1990s, threats to the sustainability of natural protected areas created the need for consideration of other settings and experiences for ecotourism. The industry has recognized the range of opportunities that a wider view of ecotourism can present and there is a growth in discourse on ecotourism in modified spaces and urban-based settings. Initially, this discourse was wildlife focused and primarily exploratory in character (Lawton & Weaver, 2001; Mason, 2000; Weaver, 2001, pp. 85–90).
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