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Does Absence of Charismatic Species Impact the Ecotourism Potential of Central Mediterranean Islands?  154

           whether charismatic species are indeed a key attractor of  Whereas charismatic species and the impact on eco-
           ecotourists to protected areas and if factors other than  tourism have been given due importance in various re-
           simply charismatic species might explain attractiveness  gions across the world (Weaver, 2005), little attention
           of protected areas (Hausmann et al., 2017).        has been given to this aspect when it comes to peri-
             Weaver (2005) distinguished between the different  pheral areas including islands such as those in the cent-
           nature-based products, a major element of ecotourism  ral Mediterranean region. Studies on such biodiversity
           together with interpretation and sustainability. He ar-  in this region have mostly been conducted from the nat-
           gues that the nature-based product ranges along a con-  ural sciences perspective. Meanwhile, peripheral areas
           tinuum.  On one end, one finds a holistic approach  such as islands have been regarded as areas ideal for
           featuring an entire ecosystem such as a forest or coral  ecotourism purposes due to high species richness which
           reef. This approach normally also includes landscapes  include charismatic megafauna. These persist due to
           (Buckley, 2013; Di Minin, Fraser, Slotow & MacMillan,  the remoteness of the areas sparing species and habits
           2013) and scenery (Lindsey et al., 2007) as targets for  from negative environmental impacts from anthropo-
           tourists. Owing to the fact that few places are devoid of  genic sources (Garrod & Wilson, 2004). In fact whereas
           human influence, the holistic approach normally also in-  emphasis in research has been made on terrestrial mam-
           corporates the cultural component to the nature-based  mals, marine charismatic species such as whales, sharks,
           focus (Weaver, 2005). On the other end one finds an ele-  dolphins, turtles and seals have also been identified (Al-
           mental approach focusing on specific non-captive flora  bert et al., 2018; Garrod & Wilson, 2004; Giglio, Luiz
           and fauna charismatic species (Weaver, 2005). Similarly,  & Schiavetti, 2015).
           Lee, Lawton and Weaver (2013) argued that ecotourism  Similarly to the arguments raised above for terrestrial
           attractions tend to focus on rather pristine ecosystems  environments, in the case of peripheral areas such as
           and wild endemic charismatic megafauna that inhabit  tourism dependent islands and archipelagos lacking cha-
           such ecosystems. In these cases, ecotourism attractions  rismatic fauna, other species such as seabirds have been
           go beyond charismatic species and emphasis is not only  considered to have considerable potential to act as flag-
           made on mammals or fauna.                          ship for tourism purposes. This is especially the case
             Similarly, others have remarked that tourists’ interest  if such species are endemic to the islands, have a low
           for visiting protected areas goes beyond charismatic  population (or are threatened with extinction) and have
           terrestrial megafauna.  In some cases, depending on  unique features of special biological or behavioural in-
           the site, geological features (such as volcanoes, and  terests (Verissimo et al., 2009). Ecotourism targets in
           cliffs) are also included as attractions (Lee et al., 2013).  such areas also include fish, marine microfauna, sea
           Even if having received less recognition than charismatic  caves and other geological formations such as stacks and
           megafauna (Hall, James & Baird, 2011), a smaller num-  arches, corals and flora along with cultural attractions
           ber of destinations also feature charismatic megaflora  (Garrod & Wilson, 2004). This research aims to study
           (such as trees) (Lee et al., 2013; Weaver, 2005). Yet in  if the lack of terrestrial charismatic mega-fauna impacts
           some regions where such mega attractions are lacking,  ecotourism in the area of study and if alternative ap-
           other smaller attractions have been identified to serve as  proaches can be used to develop and practise ecotourism
           flagship species confirming that nature-based attraction  in the central Mediterranean region. This is of particu-
           parameters should not necessarily focus on megafauna  lar interest as policy makers are eyeing alternative forms
           (Lee et al., 2013). These include less charismatic spe-  of tourism to mitigate the negative impacts of mass tour-
           cies (Buckley, 2013; Di Minin et al., 2013) including  ism and ensure that destinations remain competitive.
           birds (Glowinski, 2008; Lindsey et al., 2007; Verissimo
           et al., 2009), rarer less-easily observed and/or less high-  2  Material and Methods
           profile mammal species (Lindsey et al., 2007) such as  2.1  Area of Study
           bats (Weaver & Lawton, 2007). Reptiles and amphibi-
           ans known collectively as herpetofauna have also been  The area of study consists of nine islands (three ar-
           considered to play an important role as a pull factor for  chipelagos and an island) all situated in the central
           the ecotourism (Wollenberg et al., 2011). Furthermore,  Mediterranean Region. These are the Pelagian Islands
           butterflies and dragonflies have also been regarded as  (comprising Lampedusa, Linosa and the islet of Lampi-
           charismatic microfauna which can play a flagship role  one), the Aegadian Islands (comprising Favignana, Le-
           in ecotourism and attract visitors to protected areas  vanzo and Marettimo) and the Maltese Islands (com-
           (Cannings, 2001; Harvey Lemelin, 2007). Plants such  prising Malta, Gozo and Comino) along with the island
           as orchids have also been identified as targets for tour-  of Pantelleria. The islands have extensive terrestrial and
           ists and potential flagships for conservation (Lindsey et  marine areas which are protected through one or more
           al., 2007; Pickering & Ballantyne, 2013).          designation including regional, national and EU legis-
                                                              lation (Protected Planet, 2018). Notwithstanding the

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