Tourism and nature conservation have developed alongside each other since the early nineteenth century. As such, the concept of conservation tourism has grown increasingly more popular among travellers. Conservation tourism is a very small sub-sector of ecotourism. The key issue in conservation tourism is ensuring the net outcome of tourism is positive after subtracting the negative impacts that tourism causes.
Pros and Cons
Obviously the biggest positive affect of conservation tourism is helping to minimize the negative impacts of tourism. Like other forms of tourism, conservation tourism generates money for locals, especially in less wealthy nations and regions (like
Conservation tourism also contributes significantly to environmental protection, sustainable use of natural resources, and restoration of biological diversity. If nothing else, it raises awareness among the general public that conserving popular tourist destinations is important. Like all forms of tourism, however, there are negative affects. Local cultures can be exposed in a negative way, and large crowds of tourists may cause the negative impact of tourism to outweigh the conservation efforts, thus defeating the original purpose. Regulatory measures can be used to help offset negative impacts, however, such as placing a limit on the number of visitors and tourist activities allowed within a protected area. This can help maintain the vitality and integrity of the destination.
Perhaps the most popular destination for conservation tourism is Africa. Well-known for its diverse wildlife, most people have only seen its open fields and exotic animals on the discovery channel. The creation of conservation tourism has caused people from all over to see Earth’s most stunning wildlife while at the same time helping protect endangered species and ecosystems. The money earned by various parks and nature reserves allows for safeguards (such as sniffer dogs and park rangers) to be installed to help maintain the integrity of the area. Numerous organizations offer packages that are designed allow tourists to see the animals up close but also help protect these endangered species.
The Road Less Travelled
While Africa may be the most popular destination, there are many other destinations which are perfect for people wishing to get involved in conservation tourism. One of these places is British Columbia, Canada. One of the most beautiful places in the world, British Columbia is full of ancient coastal rainforests, majestic mountains, and plenty of wildlife. British Columbia has a very high orca whale population, and one of the most popular conservation tourism packages is to help preserve their environment and habitat. Other less-known destinations include Mexico, with its stunning wildlife, Nicaragua, with its excellent wildlife conservation programs, and Costa Rica.
Cost and Savings
Like all tourism, the total cost depends on what kind of trip you wish to take. Many travel agencies and companies offer numerous packages to suit your needs. See The Wild, for example, has volunteer packages, volunteer and adventure packages, and culture and nature packages. The cost of these packages tends to run near $2000, depending on where you decide to visit. Savings can be found, however, particularly in travel books or websites such as Groupon, which can help lower the cost of travel significantly.