A Tourism Without Visiting ?

Okay, so the headline isn’t altogether precise.

What I really mean is, should we not be moving to a type of tourism, in which the visitor doesn’t necessarily get to actually visit everything he or she has come for ? By that, I mean not get to walk on or in the “main attraction”. Or at least, part of it.

The world’s national parks and nature reserves seem to be ever more opened to development. Headlines are all across the internet of “ABC Corp opens $ 300 m resort in XYZ nature reserve”, etc.

I find it can work just as well to introduce a place to people, then bring them so far, explain why we’re not going any further and move away. An example of this would be Tern breeding grounds on pebble beaches. Another would be  seal breeding beaches. Yet another would be delicate wetland habitats.

Sometimes, we come across board walks, for example jutting out into wetlands, so the humans can encroach that bit more and get a better ‘feel’ for the place. But do we need them ? Wouldn’t it be just as good to walk simply to the edge and have a knowledgeable expert explain what goes on inside ? Or perhaps build a sensitively designed, maybe somewhat camouflaged low watch tower on that edge ?

Do we need to place candles inside those 2,000 + year old cairns atop the remote hill ? Maybe we should stop 5 m short of the entrance and simply wonder at the magnificence.

Visiting – yes, but in part and not at all costs.

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Interesting Research on Nature Based Tourism

A new research article from PLoS (Public Library of Science) in the US has concluded that visits to Protected Areas is on the increase in 15 of 20 countries studied. The main exceptions are the US and Japan.

Growth in visits to protected areas is put forward as an argument for increased spending on and general public interest in nature conservation. The authors point out that nature-based tourism has the potential to generate funds for nature conservation effort and to shape people’s attitude towards the natural environment.

The perceived concern about a growing disconnect between people in wealthier nations (e.g. the US and Japan) and their natural environment needs to be further researched, according to the authors. Increasing urbanisation and the trend towards sedentary forms of entertainment, such as video games and tv, are blamed for a decrease in ‘getting out’ into nature.

Nevertheless, it is good to see that such visits are not on the decrease in many countries.

Click here for the full article.

Authors : A Balmford, J Beresford, J Green, R Naidoo, M Walpole, A Manica.

Marketing of Rural Tourism in Ireland

WARNING : Nothing about this work is scientific. I have carried out this little experiment purely out of curiosity and, as I suspected would be the case, I find the results more than a little interesting.

This is just a little bit of research I’ve done over the past few days. It is only a snapshot and certainly doesn’t claim to be thorough in any way.

Over the last number of weeks, I’ve had reason to find myself in front of 141 small and not so small, but rarely ‘big’ Irish rural tourism businesses. They may have been B&Bs, small hotels, self catering providers, outdoor activity venues and the like.

Of the 141, 115 appear to have a website. That’s just 82%.

Of the 115 with a website, by searching for them, on google.ie, under activity (rather than their actual name), here follows what I came up with. So I didn’t search for, say, Barry’s B&B in Newport under “Barry’s B&B Newport”, but rather “B&B Newport”. In my opinion, this is far more informative, since, for the purposes of this little exercise, I assumed that the typical would-be holidaymaker knew what they wanted and where they wanted to go, but not the name of any given provider.

19 % of businesses came in the top 5 listings, when searched for in google.ie.

A further 7 % came in from no. 6 to no. 10.

However, a massive 74 % did not appear on the first search page under Google Ireland at all. The first Google page typically lists the first ten results only.

It goes to show the vital role of linking and third party website listings and reminds us that a website is more a product that needs to be promoted than a promotional tool in itself.

Of course, I should point out that, sometimes, google.ie search results are dominated by third party listing sites, such as goireland, discoverireland, dublinevents and so on.

Follow this Blog

I came across this blog, the diary of a US ecotourism consultant on a project in Bangladesh to help out with the creation of an ecotourism strategy for a rural area on the Bay of Bengal.

Megan Epler Wood is the founder and past president of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES). She does work for the World Bank and USAID, among others.

A Day in the Life of an Ecotourism Consultant