Growing Wildlife-Based Tourism Sustainably: A New Report and Q&A
1 Mar 2018
Wildlife tourism is a powerful tool countries can leverage to grow and diversify their economies while protecting their biodiversity and meeting several Sustainable Development Goals. It is also a way to engage tourists in wildlife conservation and inject money into local communities living closest to wildlife. Success stories and lessons learned from nature-based tourism are emerging from across the globe. “Here is a way of squaring the circle: provide jobs and save the environment,” said World Bank lead economist Richard Damania, who has extensive experience in understanding the link between tourism and the economy. In 2016, travel and tourism contributed $7.6 trillion, or 10.2%, to total GDP, and the industry provided jobs to one in 10 people, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council. While nature-based tourism, which includes wildlife tourism, has been expanding rapidly in the last decade or so due to increased demand and opportunities, wildlife and biodiversity are increasingly threatened by habitat loss, poaching, and a lack of funding for protection. Which is why more than ever countries need to look to concrete examples of well-planned, sustainably-run tourism operations that have led to increased investments in protected areas and reserves, a reduction in poaching, an increase in the non-consumptive value of wildlife through viewing, and opportunities for rural communities to improve their livelihoods through tourism-related jobs, revenue-sharing arrangements, and co-management of natural resources. A recently-released publication—Supporting Sustainable Livelihoods through Wildlife Tourism—developed by the World Bank Group and the Global Wildlife Program, funded by the Global Environment Facility, showcases sustainable wildlife tourism models that can be applied to developing countries, and offers solutions and case studies to bring insight into this sector as a mechanism for inclusive poverty reduction and global conservation. The Global Wildlife Program spoke with Damania to learn more about the growth, challenges, and innovations in wildlife-based tourism.
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