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

           also organised in an attempt to watch turtles in the wild.  an alternative. Other suggestions included to capital-
             Operators emphasised that excursions offered to eco-  ise on natural aspects offered by the islands such as the
           tourists do not have the sole aim to observe marine spe-  scenery and the various volcanic phenomena found on
           cies but also seek to raise awareness on the need to pro-  the island of Linosa and more so on Pantelleria. Other
           tect such species. In fact, one should note that fail-  lines of thought included to make less emphasis on the
           ure to observe charismatic species did not leave a com-  terrestrial environment and rather than just focus on
           plete negative impact on ecotourists visiting the Pela-  botanical aspects put more emphasis on marine and
           gian Islands. Such ecotourists did not manage to see  coastal environment. Others reiterated this point on the
           turtles in the wild and only had the chance to visit  proviso that islands had to capitalise more on the wa-
           turtle nests on beaches being monitored by NGOs and  ter surrounding them and the relatively bigger marine
           observe injured turtles in rescue centres on Lampedusa  protected areas in comparison to terrestrial areas. In ad-
           and Linosa. Meanwhile, ecotourists still contributed fin-  dition, academics explained that marine life was so rich
           ancially towards related conservation projects.    that one could also observe a variety of species including
             Conservation was considered by ecotourists as an im-  charismatic/appealing ones in shallow water. Another
           portant element of ecotourism and one which influences  approach was to develop ecotourism products that in-
           them when choosing a destination to visit. Further-  corporate related niches that overlap with ecotourism
           more, it was also considered an important element of the  including adventure tourism, agri/rural tourism, pesca-
           ecotourism experience by ecotourists. Ecotourists also  tourism, volunteering and cultural tourism. This would
           requested operators and NGOs involved more inform-  not only overcome the limitation of limited/absence of
           ation on how their participation in the ecotour would  charismatic terrestrial fauna but also enhance the eco-
           support conservation initiatives including those related  tourism experience per se.  In another proposed ap-
           to flagship species such as turtles. The importance of  proach, stakeholders including academics recommended
           conservation for ecotourists can be further confirmed by  archipelago tourism also known as island hopping to
           the dissatisfaction expressed by participants of ecotours  maximise the ecotourism experience and experience the
           visiting a store selling natural sponges, a traditional  different nature related opportunities provided by dif-
           trade on the island of Lampedusa. Concerns have been  ferent islands. Such services are already being offered
           raised by managers of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)  in the area of study. This was of particular interest
           since ecotourism activity targeting charismatic species  due to the relation that exists between islands through
           on Lampedusa were disregarding ethical considerations  the presence of sub-endemic species (species unique to a
           due to close encounters with such species possibly leav-  number of islands) in the area of study, case in point
           ing an impact on their behaviour.                  reptile and snails.  One example is the lacertid liz-
             Various approaches were proposed by stakeholders to  ard (Podarcis filfolensis) endemic to the Maltese and
           overcome the challenge of absence of terrestrial charis-  Pelagian archipelago (found on Linosa and Lampione)
           matic species (see Table 2). The first was to consider  (Scalera et al., 2004).
           smaller, including non-mammal species such as inver-
           tebrates and flora as charismatic species which are of in-
           terest to ecotourists. In this regard emphasis was made  Table 2: Approaches proposed for the ecotourism experience in
           on endemic species, species with a limited geograph-  the central Mediterranean region.
           ical distribution and species which are considered to be
           rare/threatened or appealing. Species reflecting one or  How to overcome lack of terrestrial mega-fauna
           more of these characteristics and outlined by stakehold-
           ers included the fresh water crab, the painted frog (Dis-  • Target smaller non-mammal species
           coglossus pictus), the Mediterranean killifish (Aphanius  • Put more emphasis on flowering plants due to
           fasciatus), the hedgehog (Erinaceus algirus), the weasel  their rich biodiveristy
           (Mustela nivalis), the Sandarac Gum tree (Tetraclinis  • Capitalise on the geologic and volcanic phenom-
           articulata), the Maltese rock centaury (Cheirolophus    ena
           crassifolius), orchids and birds such as the blue rock  • Give more importance to coastal and marine en-
           thrush (Monticola solitarius). NGOs, academics and      vironments
           ecotourism operators pointed out that entomology and  • Include overlapping niches including volunteer-
           herpetology excursions focusing on insects and reptiles  ing, adventure, cultural, agritourism/rural tour-
           respectively could be organised on the islands. Ow-     ism, pescatourism
           ing to the rich diversity of flowering plants in a con-  • Introduce archipelago tourism/island hopping
           fined area excursions focusing on flower gazing, ethno-   and focus on endemicity and sub-endemic spe-
           botany and nature photography could be organised as     cies

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