Continued growth of tourism has led to concerns about direct and indirect impacts on the ecology of coral reefs and ultimate sustainability of these environments under such pressure. This research assessed impacts of reef walking by tourists on a relatively pristine reef flat community associated with an ‘ecoresort’ on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Heavily walked areas had lower abundances of live hard coral but greater amounts of dead coral and sediment. Abundances of macroalgae were not affected between sites. Coral-associated butterflyfish were less abundant and less diverse in more trampled sites. A manipulative experiment showed handling holothurians on reef walks had lasting negative impacts. This is the first study to show potential impacts of such handling on holothurians. Ecological impacts of reef walking are weighed against sociocultural benefits of a first hand experience in nature.
Profitability and competitiveness of the saltwater charter fishing industry is becoming more challenging in coastal communities. Adding value with non-consumptive experiences and targeting a broader range of marine tourists may enhance industry sustainability as well as broaden opportunities for public access to marine waters. This study explored industry beliefs about capabilities for implementing new or enhanced services as a means to understand capacity for adding non-consumptive value. Semi-structured interviews and a written self-assessment survey were administered to 43 charter operators licensed in coastal South Carolina, USA during the summer of 2012. Operators gave high ratings to their knowledge relevant to providing outreach on expanded topics, but were less confident about their marketing, networking (within the industry and with the tourism industry), and customer service skills. Consumer demand information was also desired.
For marine resource managers, this research identifies the information most needed for captains to add non-consumptive value. This research also highlights the importance of marine resource managers about understanding the perception of issues for charter boat captains, specifically from a regulatory standpoint. For charter boat captains, this research suggests that most captains would support collaboration between other charter boat captains, local communities, and tourism promotion organizations. However, captains are not well equipped to establish these relationships. Finally, the identification of potential value-added services may be helpful in developing and diversifying the charter boat industry.
Despite rapid growth in the marine tourism sector, the impacts of recreation on the marine environment are generally not well understood. Most existing studies of marine recreation ecology have focused on behavioural changes resulting from direct interactions between humans and wildlife including provisioning. However, non-consumptive, non-provisioning human impacts may also result in persistent behavioural impacts to shark populations. In this study, we examined differences in residency, abundance, and behaviour of reef sharks at Palmyra Atoll in response to long-term SCUBA diving activity, using a combination of survey techniques including baited remote underwater video systems and multi-year passive acoustic monitoring. In most locations with recreational diving operations, some level of human impact is pervasive, but on Palmyra, extractive fishing is prohibited, and scientific diving activities are concentrated on just a few sites that house long-term monitoring projects. These sites experience relatively intensive diving, while the majority of the island is entirely undived. Evidence from elsewhere has shown that sharks behaviourally respond to people in the water over short time scales, but our results indicate that this response may not persist. We did not detect differences in reef shark abundance or behaviour between heavily dived and undived locations, nor were there differences in shark residency patterns at dived and undived sites in a year with substantial diving activity and a year without any diving. Our results suggest that humans can interact with reef sharks without persistent behavioural impacts, and that well-regulated shark diving tourism can be accomplished without undermining conservation goals.
The increasing popularity of marine wildlife tourism (MWT) worldwide calls for assessment of its conservation outcomes and the development of appropriate management frameworks to ensure the conservation of the species and habitats involved as well as the long-term sustainability of this industry. While many studies have examined the positive and/or negative implications of particular forms of MWT, few have attempted to identify factors of concern shared across different types of marine tourism, or examine their implications for sustainability in a broader perspective. We reviewed the existing literature to highlight common impacts on animal behaviour, health and ecology, and to identify successful cases based on minimal negative affects and/or lack of chronic/irreversible impacts on target species or habitats. To ensure the achievement of both economic and ecologic objectives, the following steps should be integrated in MWT management: 1) Increase of research on the biology and ecology of target species/habitat and application of relevant information for the development of suitable policies, frameworks and management strategies; 2) Structured enforcement of existing policies and enhancement of ecological awareness of visitors through active education; 3) Application of an adaptive management framework to continuously improve the codes of conduct employed; 4) Involvement of different stakeholders and local communities in the development and improvement of the MWT activity. Combining these strategies with the extrapolation of frameworks and policies from cases where adverse ecological impacts have been addressed and successfully resolved can further contribute in ensuring the long-term health and conservation of the species/habitats involved in MWT activities.
In the past three years, the MEET project supported 25 Protected Areas (PAs) in the Mediterranean region in their sustainable tourism development and in the improvement of their ecotourism offers. Building on the knowledge, experiences and lessons learned from these PAs belonging to 10 countries of the Mediterranean (Italy, France, Spain, Jordan, Lebanon, ROWA, Malta, Cyprus, Greece and Tunisia), the MEET Network has released the “MEET Manual – A guide to discover the MEET approach”. The main objective of this manual is to provide local people, businesses, NGOs and especially protected area managers with a clear pathway to plan and improve ecotourism in their territory.
By reading this Manual you will acquire many useful tips about how to create and develop successful Mediterranean ecotourism related products and activities. Indeed, you will learn about what it takes to establish a local cluster of complementary partnerships. This will help you increase the number of visitors to your area, while conserving your protected area in a way that meets the MEET criteria and it will also make you eligible to become a partner of the MEET Network!
The Manual is the result of a process of collaboration that began in 2011 and finalized in 2015 within the framework of the Mediterranean Experience of Ecotourism — MEET Project.
The Community Based Marine Ecotourism (CBME) is one of the strategies of the Emancipatory Environmental Education. This paper evaluates the feasibility of a new CBME product (marine underwater trail) in a protected area in northeastern Brazil, through a seven phase process. The Environmental Protection Area of Tinharé and Boipeba presented excellent conditions for implantation of the product; Tassimirim beach was selected as the location due to its diverse marine reefs geobiodiversity, allowing the creation of a 320 m long trail; 89% of the participants who tested the product evaluated it as “excellent”; 76% of participants would accept to pay US$ 17.00 to US$ 33.00 for the product; more than 79% of the local residents and entrepreneurs found the initiative excellent. The product was applied for 10 days and generated US$ 433.00. We concluded that the CBME product showed efficacy and economic/environmental sustainability. It was well accepted by local entrepreneurs, ecotourists and community, but it still needs to be further issued and accepted by tour guides so that they can disclose the activity and be favored.
The Miches Municipality lies in the second poorest province in the Dominican Republic, and its inhabitants rely heavily on nearby coral reefs for food and livelihoods. With the sudden influx of tourism from the completion of a new highway, now is a crucial time to ensure that future tourist development in this region is locally driven and environmentally responsible. As coral reefs are a foundation of Miches' identity, economy, and natural wealth, they play an integral role in the realization of this goal. This study employed global reef monitoring protocols to conduct the first-ever quantitative health assessment of Miches' reefs in order to guide future management practices. Surveys of multi-taxa indicator species were conducted alongside assessments of coral bleaching, disease prevalence, and evidence of anthropogenic impacts. Key findings include extremely low abundances of fishery-targeted species, high prevalence of diseased coral, anchor damage at nearly every site, and high abundances of indicator species for nutrient-based pollution such as fertilizers and raw sewage. Deeper, offshore reefs exhibited better health than shallow, inshore reefs, though they were still more degraded than comparable reefs in Dominican marine protected areas. Overall, Miches reefs are highly threatened by four main factors: overfishing, land-based pollution, human-related structural damage, and coral bleaching. To improve the well-being of the region's coral reefs and the communities that depend on them, an adaptive management plan is recommended that encompasses strong fisheries regulations, basic yet consistent monitoring efforts, and the integration of land-based and marine management practices.
Worldwide, the growth of marine tourism is creating opportunities for financing marine protected areas (MPAs), but what these financial arrangements look like and how they can be governed at larger scales, and in equitable and transparent ways, is unclear. This paper examines the governance arrangement of two region-wide successive entrance fee systems established since 1997 in Raja Ampat, Indonesia, to finance a network of MPAs delineated under the auspices of two big international non-governmental organizations (NGO), namely Raja Ampat Entrance Fee and Raja Ampat Ecosystem Service Stewardship Fee. These two successive entrance fee systems can be viewed as payment for environmental services (PES) arrangements. The PES-like entrance fee arrangements improved in terms of participation, transparency and equity. In the second scheme, local communities in Raja Ampat were involved in the design of the disbursement of the community fund, and the criteria for disbursement became more clear and transparent. However, in both schemes there is no clear connection between the distribution of the funds and activities that improve environmental services provision (conditionality). In addition, the latter scheme is still facing equity challenges as some communities with customary rights over marine tourism hotspots are asking for additional user-fees from tourists and tourism operators.
The effectiveness of interpretive signage as a means of modifying visitor behaviour to reduce negative impacts on wildlife was tested empirically at a seal watching site on Vatnsnes peninsula in North West Iceland. From July to September 2014, the actions of 2440 visitors were observed and their behaviour recorded. To test the importance of how interpretive information is presented, signs with either ontological (instructions without explanation) or teleological (instructions with explanation) information were positioned along the path towards the site. A control group, to which no signs were provided, was also observed. Our results show that the majority of the tested behaviour was influenced when signs were present and that under some conditions teleological signs were more effective than ontological. The type of visitor group was found to significantly influence behaviour, with families having the most intrusive behaviour compared to singles, couples or other groups. The findings of this study contribute to a better understanding of how interpretative signage can modify tourist behaviour to facilitate sustainable wildlife tourism. The use of teleological signs for managing wildlife tourism activities is recommended because they are more effective than ontological signs in terms of modifying the general visitor behaviour. In addition, signage and other management strategies should address the different needs and responses relevant to the nature of the tourist group visiting the site. Special focus should be placed on families when signs are designed because this group type showed the highest probability of causing disturbance at the site.
While the development of the tourism industry can bring economic benefits to an area, it is important to consider the long-run impact of the industry on a given location. Particularly when the tourism industry relies upon a certain ecological state, those weighing different development options need to consider the long-run impacts of increased tourist numbers upon measures of ecological condition. This paper presents one approach for linking a model of recreational visitor behavior with an ecological model that estimates the impact of the increased visitors upon the environment. Two simulations were run for the model using initial parameters available from survey data and water quality data for beach locations in Croatia. Results suggest that the resilience of a given tourist location to the changes brought by increasing tourism numbers is important in determining its long-run sustainability. Further work should investigate additional model components, including the tourism industry, refinement of the relationships assumed by the model, and application of the proposed model in additional areas.