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

           relatively small land area, the resulting limited variety  views were also held with stakeholders across the en-
           of habitats, the long history of colonisation and in the  tire area of study in order to obtain their views on
           case of the Maltese islands the high population density,  various aspects related to ecotourism. As per Okech
           the islands host a high variety of biota including several  (2011) and Orams (1999a), ecotourism stakeholders in-
           endemic species and are thus considered as biodiversity  terviewed included locals, resource users (including op-
           hotspots (Vogiatzakis, Mannion & Pungetti, 2008).  erators, guides, tourists), government and official agen-
                                                              cies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and aca-
                                                              demics (see Table 1). Two sub-types of strategic in-
                                                              formant sampling technique were used to recruit inter-
                                                              viewees: expert sampling and snowball sampling. Inter-
                                                              views were held face to face and owing to the charac-
                                                              teristics of islands being small-entangled communities,
                                                              notes were taken instead of recording to ensure tangible
                                                              information is acquired and that an adequate pool of
                                                              stakeholders accept to participate. A checklist of items
                                                              discussed during interviews and focus groups can be
                                                              found in Annex Annex 1. Data obtained through inter-
                                                              views and focus groups was analysed manually through
                                                              coding, sorting and looking for dominant themes.

                                                              3   Results

                                                              When asked about activities and features that are
           Figure 1: Central Mediterranean islands representing the area
           of study. Source: QGIS, 2016. Designed by Andrea Pace.  most important during a trip abroad, ecotourists in-
                                                              terviewed referred to experiencing nature, visiting un-
                                                              crowded places and increasing knowledge on wildlife.
           2.2  Methods
                                                              Watching wildlife including plants and animals was the
           The case study approach was used in terms of research  least ecotourism related aspect referred to by ecotour-
           design as it provides flexibility as a multiple method-  ists interviewed. The main reasons which motivated
           ology (Jennings, 2001; Yin, 2014). The multiple case  respondents to participate in the ecotours included to
           study approach was implemented whereby the same re-  visit a new ecodestination (ecotourists remarked that
           search methods were applied to the different islands un-  they had not visited the central Mediterranean island
           der study (Yin, 2014). Research was conducted between  in question), the fact that the tour was predominantly
           May 2013 and July 2016 and over 240 people particip-  nature based, a competitive price of the package, the
           ated in the study. Four study visits (one on each ar-  positive experience garnered from the previous ecotours
           chipelago/island) were organised to observe and famili-  and to support conservation initiatives. The desire to
           arise oneself with the area of study.              watch charismatic fauna also did not feature among the
             Eventually, four ecotours were organised (one on each  most popular expectations of those participating in the
           archipelago/island). These involved the organisation of  ecotours. In fact, the learning experience, immersing
           a specific itinerary for 66 ecotourists who voluntarily ac-  in nature and visiting a new interesting ecodestination
           cepted to participate in the trips, at their own expense.  were the most popular expectations among respondents
           43 ecotourists participated in one ecotour, 23 ecotourists  participating in the four ecotours.
           participated in two ecotours whereas 5 ecotourists par-  Ecoguides interviewed in the area of study expressed
           ticipated in three of the ecotours organised generating a  concern on the absence of terrestrial large charismatic
           total of 94 ecotourism experiences. The programme of  species save for some introduced mammals such as red
           the ecotour involved established ecotourism excursions  deer (Cervus elaphus), mouflons (Ovis orientalis musi-
           in protected areas. Interviews and focus groups were  mon) and wild boars (Sus scrofa scrofa) on Marettimo.
           conducted with participants of ecotours including those  They said that this might leave an impact on the sat-
           who participated in more than one ecotour and those  isfaction of ecotourists. When interviewed, ecotourists
           who revisited the ecodestinations on their own initiat-  visiting the Maltese Islands outlined that they observed
           ive following the ecotour organised as part of the re-  little terrestrial fauna save for the fresh water crab (Pot-
           search. A non-probability sampling technique was used  amon fluviatile lanfrancoi). However, they did not ex-
           whereby individuals who presented themselves to the  press disappointment. The observation of species which
           ecotours were asked to participate.                are considered as charismatic such as the fresh water
             In addition, 174 in-depth and semi-structured inter-  crab and birds in Malta, loggerhead turtles (Carretta

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