Assessing the compatibility of ecotourism and hunting through the attitudes and choices of ecotourists
Nature-based tourism is a growing industry for many African countries, due primarily to vast wilderness areas that harbor large, charismatic game. Such areas are often zoned for different recreational activities, namely ecotourism (photographic tourism) and trophy hunting tourism. Additionally, multi-use wildlife areas often include zones for communal subsistence hunting, which can overlap with designated tourism areas. While diversifying land uses in rural areas can offer greater socioeconomic stability, the combination of ecotourism with hunting activities has been questioned. The objective of this study was to assess ecotourists’ willingness to visit game reserves that support hunting activities. A survey of ecotourists was conducted in game lodges in and around the Kruger National Park in South Africa. Results showed acceptance of controlled subsistence hunting by a majority of tourists but unwillingness to view wildlife in areas with trophy hunting. Personal safety, game viewing quality, and concerns for animal welfare motivated negative responses. Nationality, gender and number of safari experiences significantly influenced responses, illustrating the need for market segmentation when targeting consumers of ecotourism products in multi-use conservation areas. If ecotourism is to succeed at generating income for rural communities while protecting biodiversity conservation, careful consideration must be made of land use zoning as well as market expectations.
Keywords: Multi-use conservation area, rural livelihoods, trophy hunting, ecotourism market, photographic tourism.
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