Nature Tourism

Nature tourism is an increasing segment of the tourism industry which encompasses many activities that centre on the participants engaging with nature. This segment takes place largely in a natural setting with emphasis on understanding and conservation of the natural environment. The places associated with nature tourism has always included forests, lakes, rivers, mountains and the coast, these areas are usually protected as National Parks.

Krka National Park, Croatia

Krka National Park, Croatia

In the U.S.A in the 19th century there was the national park movement where many areas became protected as National Parks or National Monuments, this led to them being heavily visited during the 20th century. Early infrastructure was developed including car parking, trails and visitor centres, this was then adopted by other countries but with national and cultural differences. For example in Scandinavia they have “everyman’s right” which has led to more countryside being available for access whereas in the U.S.A they have strong private property rights.

Generally there is a greater awareness of the environment and its issues that include pollution, deforestation and global warming. Governments and environmental organisations are taking these issues seriously at both a national and international level. People’s interest in these issues has changed accordingly and they want to engage in nature or Ecotourism and partake in activities that have a benefit to the local environment. Due to this increased awareness it has become easier to manage these protected areas as people understand the need for this action.

This has not been the case in Virunga National Park in Congo. Park rangers are armed with guns and willing to give their lives in order to protect the natural environment and the last home of the mountain gorilla on the planet. Virunga is both a National Park and UNESCO heritage site but has been under increasing pressure since oil was found in the park. Large oil companies are able to throw money at a problem until they eventually get their way, if we are not careful we will lose a truly unique place on Earth.

Virunga National Park

In order to increase nature tourism a high quality environment is needed in order to attract visitors, this results in a reduction in negative effects on the areas and a reduced risk of conflict with local communities. With the popularity of nature tourism increasing it will actively contribute to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage. But if the area is affected by lack of management or over-exploitation, like what is happening in Virunga, it will lose its attractiveness to visitors. It is important for nature tourism development to encourage community involvement to be sustainable, this can be done through local and indigenous communities being included in the planning, development and participation.

Given the increased pressures on the environment as well as the changing social, economic and demographic conditions, nature tourism is a segment that needs to be continually under review. If we as tourists are not mindful about our travel these places may not last for future generations.

The Academic Traveller

I have been studying Tourism at University for the last two years in Helsinki, Finland. The subject intrigues me and has opened my eyes to areas of the industry that I wasn’t before aware. Tourism is a large industry, one of the largest in the world, and it continues to grow as more and more of us look to travel.

Traveling has to be something that consumes us. We have to be mindful of local communities and ecosystems we may disrupt in order to achieve our goals. The world is fragile, culture and heritage even more so. Being a tourist raises a lot of ethical questions we may sometimes be blind to.

I would like to use this blog not only a place to share my adventures from around the world but also those I have had during my studies. Hopefully these posts will be able to create discussion and we can approach some of the more intricate details that effect us during our travels.

If you want to continue reading please try the posts below.

Nature Tourism

Uluru: To climb or Not

The History of Australian Aboriginals 

Khmer Rouge

Cityscapes

In one of my earlier posts I compared photographing landscapes to cityscapes and which one I preferred, if any. I enjoy photographing the places I travel to and sharing those images with people is also part of why I take these pictures. I recently entered one of my photographs to The Guardian and they used it in one of their articles about Cityscapes from around the world.

Cityscapes Around the World

If you enjoy sharing you photographs with others then I recommend adding some photographs to The Guardian Witness project.