How to bring conservation messaging into wildlife-based tourism

July 01, 2020

The study states that failing to encourage tourists to do more on behalf of wildlife represents a missed opportunity for conservation. "We argue that the combination of emotional engagement and knowledge-driven action provided by wildlife-based tours will pave the way for a new area of conservation-oriented tourism" says Dr. Alvaro Fernández-Llamazares, the lead-author of the study from the University of Helsinki.

"Some years ago I took a whale-watching tour in Iceland, and it surprised me to see that while the guide provided very detailed information about the ecology, life cycle and foraging habits of whales, she did not mention any single time the huge conservation threats that these animals are facing. My colleagues had noticed similar patterns in other corners of the world. Concerned about this, we decided to thoroughly review the academic literature on wildlife-based tourism and examine to which extent was conservation messaging lacking in wildlife-based tours," explains Dr. Fernández-Llamazares.

The authors carried out a comprehensive review of the academic literature on wildlife-based tourism, finding out that indeed conservation messaging is virtually absent from many mainstream wildlife-based tourism operations. Operators often fail to give information on wildlife conservation and opportunities for tourists to engage in conservation action.

Whale-watching tour in Húsavík (Iceland). Information on cetacean conservation and threats to the marine environment is argued to be limited in many whale-watching tours. Credit: Á. Fernández-Llamazares.

"There is increasing research evidence that wildlife-based tourism could help to transform the environmental knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of tourists through first-hand encounters with wildlife, complemented by effective conservation messaging," says Dr. Fernández-Llamazares. "However, such conservation messaging is not always a priority for many wildlife-based tourism operators, who often fail to provide a well-designed environmental interpretation".

Tools to engage tourists in wild-life conservation

The study documents new avenues that are broadening the potential of wildlife-based tourism, using alternative forms of communicating conservation-related messages. For example, empirical research shows that combining the emotional response of viewing wildlife with the educational benefits of a tailored interpretative programme provides tourism operators with numerous opportunities to cultivate the conservation potential of a tourism experience.

"I have experienced it myself: when you have the opportunity to see wildlife in situ, it creates a deep emotional connection between you and wildlife. However, as tourists we do not always have the tools to act beyond that experience, to transform the emotional bonds towards environmental stewardship," says Aina Brias-Guinart, co-author of the study from the University of Helsinki. "For this reason, in this study, we thought of a set of principles that wildlife-based tourism operators could use to maximize the conservation potential of the tourist experience".

The study introduces a toolbox of ideas for improving the conservation messaging of wildlife-based tourism operations, based on five principles: promote positive messaging, provide actionable information, engage tourists in research and practice, link experience with consumption choices and foster long-term interactions. These ideas focus on amplifying the emotional engagement among tourists participating in wildlife-based tours, and on empowering them to take purposeful conservation action.
-end-


University of Helsinki

Related Conservation Articles from Brightsurf:

New guide on using drones for conservation
Drones are a powerful tool for conservation - but they should only be used after careful consideration and planning, according to a new report.

Elephant genetics guide conservation
A large-scale study of African elephant genetics in Tanzania reveals the history of elephant populations, how they interact, and what areas may be critical to conserve in order to preserve genetic diversity of the species.

Measuring the true cost of conservation
BU Professor created the first high-resolution map of land value in the United states.

Environmental groups moving beyond conservation
Although non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have become powerful voices in world environmental politics, little is known of the global picture of this sector.

Hunting for the next generation of conservation stewards
Wildlife ecology students become the professionals responsible for managing the biodiversity of natural systems for species conservation.

Conservation research on lynx
Scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and the Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology (Leibniz-FMP) discovered that selected anti-oxidative enzymes, especially the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD2), may play an important role to maintain the unusual longevity of the corpus luteum in lynxes.

New 'umbrella' species would massively improve conservation
The protection of Australia's threatened species could be improved by a factor of seven, if more efficient 'umbrella' species were prioritised for protection, according to University of Queensland research.

Trashed farmland could be a conservation treasure
Low-productivity agricultural land could be transformed into millions of hectares of conservation reserve across the world, according to University of Queensland-led research.

Bats in attics might be necessary for conservation
Researchers investigate and describe the conservation importance of buildings relative to natural, alternative roosts for little brown bats in Yellowstone National Park.

Applying biodiversity conservation research in practice
One million species are threatened with extinction, many of them already in the coming decades.

Read More: Conservation News and Conservation Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.