Prospects and sustainability of ecotourism in Finima Nature Park, Bonny Island, Rivers State, Nigeria
Prospects and sustainability of Ecotourism in Finima Nature Park (FNP), Bonny Island, Rivers State, Nigeria was studied with the objectives of identifying tourist attractions in the park, and assessing the socio-economic characteristics of households in communities bordering the park. Data for the study were collected through observation, in-depth interview, review of management records and administration of questionnaire. Data collected were analysed using descriptive statistics while Chi square was used to test significance of associations. Results showed that FNP is endowed with unique attractions such as the quiet park environment (24.1%) where natural sounds from animals, wind and water waves are enjoyed by tourists; suspended wooden walkway (22.4%); beach that gives a panoramic view of the Atlantic ocean (22.4%) and nature trail (10.3%) that exposes various micro habitats of the environment. Even though the park is a conserved area, tourist visitation therein has increased progressively between 2014 and 2016. Most visitors (82.10%) to Finima Nature Park were satisfied with the attractions and servicesin the destination. Majority of tourist respondents were resident in Rivers State.A test of association between frequency of tourist visitation and gender using Chi square was significant (p<0.05). Similarly, the occupation (χ2=151.880) and level of education (χ2=51.952) of tourists had significant (p<0.05) associations with the distance travelled to the park. The area is dominated by settlers from other areas especially AkwaIbom State (50.3%) and Andoni (37.9%) in Rivers State. Households from communities bordering the park were mostly secondary school certificate holders (62.0%), mainly involved in fishing (37.8%), schooling or trading and therefore rely on forest resources for survival. For sustainable conservation to be ensured in the destination FNP management should develop empowerment strategies to enhance survival of households.
Keyword: Finima Nature Park, Biodiversity conservation, Bonny Island, Ecotourism, Tourist attraction