International Handbook on Ecotourism
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International Handbook on Ecotourism

Edited by Roy Ballantyne and Jan Packer

This Handbook brings together contributions from over forty international experts in the field of ecotourism. It provides a critical review and discussion of current issues and concepts – it challenges readers to consider the boundaries of what ecotourism is, and could be. The Handbook provides practical information regarding the business of ecotourism; insights into ecotourist behaviour and visitor experiences; and reflections on the practice of ecotourism in a range of different contexts.
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Chapter 19: Ecotourism and conservation

Ralf Buckley


The editorial invitation to contribute this chapter also suggested a subtitle: ‘The good, the bad and the ugly’. Although I have not adopted this phrase in the title, it does potentially provide a useful conceptual framework, because it throws into stark relief the different perspectives of commercial tourism operators, and landowners and wildlife managers. At a global scale, most tourism does not involve conservation, and most conservation does not involve tourism. Where they do overlap, there are commonly costs and controversies as well as potential gains (Buckley, 2008). Generally, tour operators want access to land and wildlife that are attractors for their clients, in order to make money for themselves and their shareholders. If they can get such access cheaply, free or subsidized, they can make larger profits, especially if they can gain exclusive or preferential rights that their immediate competitors do not have. Owners and managers of lands and wildlife, in contrast, need funds and other resources for conservation management. They see tourists, either as individuals or as clients of commercial operators, as one potential source of income. Other income sources include government budget appropriations, donor funding, and payments for ecosystem services such as water supply or carbon sequestration. In contrast to these sources, tourism also brings substantial costs.

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