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Does Absence of Charismatic Species Impact the Ecotourism Potential of Central Mediterranean Islands?  160

           been either developed or face anthropogenic disturb-  Thus limiting ecotourism experiences on target species
           ance (Deidun, 2010). Sandy beaches in particular are  is risky since no matter how large the abundance of spe-
           highly sought after and thus such habitats experience  cies is, observing target species during excursions is not
           tremendous human pressure (Deidun, Azzopardi, Saliba  always successful. This is in fact also emphasised by
           & Schembri, 2003). The diversification of ecotourism  operators ahead of excursions (EcoMarine Malta, 2018).
           targets and the resulting possibility to practise such  Hence, the approach of revolving ecotourism experiences
           form of tourism beyond coastal areas is thus an oppor-  around the broader aspect of biodiversity that goes bey-
           tunity to provide other tourism opportunities and ease  ond solely targeting charismatic species is also advant-
           the pressure from sandy beaches and coastal environ-  ageous from this perspective.
           ments.                                               Whereas according to Garrod and Wilson (2004) the
             One should note that most participants of the eco-  strict competition in the ecotourism market makes it
           tours had already participated in other ecotours and  challenging to attract repeat visitors, a number of eco-
           visited other protected areas including those in destina-  tourists participating in the ecotours revisited the eco-
           tions synonymous with the “big 5”. This might explain  destinations convincing other friends to join them. This
           why ecotourists did not underline the absence of large  together with other results such as the high level of sat-
           charismatic species as a major limitation or leaving a  isfaction of ecotourists, willingness to participate in sim-
           negative impact on their satisfaction. This is because  ilar ecotours on other Mediterranean islands and willing-
           research has shown that tourists who already had previ-  ness to recommend the destination to friends confirms
           ous experience in visiting protected areas are more likely  the potential of ecotourism in the region irrespective of
           to appreciate and support initiatives that promote a  the absence of large charismatic species.
           broader biodiversity experience which goes beyond cha-  Various concerns have been raised by stakeholders
           rismatic species only (Giglio et al., 2015; Hausmann et  on the negative impact on charismatic species includ-
           al., 2016). Meanwhile one should not limit marketing  ing those in marine environment due to anthropic im-
           to experienced ecotourists. Hausmann et al. (2016) ar-  pacts. Such concerns concord with research conducted
           gue that while experienced tourists tend to be the target  in the Pelagian Islands confirming that the increased
           group of tourists in protected areas lacking charismatic  and intense traffic of boats during the summer period
           species, less experienced tourists had preferences which  (especially between May and October) leads to acci-
           were not restricted to such species. Thus, they could still  dental collisions (Prazzi, Nicolini, Piovano & Giacoma,
           be attracted to such sites by focusing on biodiversity re-  2010). This also causes disturbance to the bottlenose
           lated activities related to less charismatic species and  dolphin which in return causes their displacement from
           landscapes, accessibility of protected areas, the oppor-  coastal areas (La Manna, Manghi, Pavan, Lo Mascolo
           tunity to avoid crowds and the overlap with adventure  & Sar`a, 2013, 2014). In addition, prolonged and close
           and cultural aspects.                              contact of humans with charismatic species can leave
             Alien species are considered as a threat to habitats  detrimental impacts (Weaver, 2005). Failure to ensure
           and their biota and can cause significant changes not  sustainability of fisheries and the good health of the seas
           only in marine environments (Wallentinus & Nyberg,  is considered to be a major flaw in Mediterranean mar-
           2007) but also in freshwater ecosystems. The spread of  ine governance leading to drastic impacts on charismatic
           alien species can also leave an impact on charismatic  species (RAC/SPA, 2013).
           species. A classic example is the impact left follow-
           ing the release and extensive spread of the red swamp  5  Conclusion
           crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) in Maltese watercourses
           leaving an impact on the indigenous Fresh water crab  This research has shed light on lack of charismatic spe-
           (Deidun et al., 2018) which is considered as a charis-  cies and its impact on ecotourism potential on islands,
           matic species.                                     an aspect which has not received any attention in the
             Lack of wildlife sightings do not necessarily influence  central Mediterranean region. It has been confirmed
           the satisfaction of overall ecotourism experience (Orams,  that the absence of charismatic species is not a detri-
           1999b). There have been times where target species  mental issue hindering ecotourism potential. On the
           were not observed during the excursion, but ecotourists  other hand various other approaches being adopted or
           were still enticed by the species and related conservation  proposed have conservation benefits including giving
           projects to the extent that they also contributed finan-  due attention to the broader biodiversity rather than fo-
           cially to support the protection of the species (Deemer,  cusing on few charismatic megafauna. Results have mar-
           2014). Meanwhile there have also been times where lack  keting implications especially since nature-based tour-
           of wildlife sightings did contribute to cause dissatisfac-  ism is growing world-wide with more and more tourists
           tion among ecotourists (Lawton, 2012; Muloin, 1998).  visiting protected areas. Marketing efforts need to fo-
                                                              cus on both experienced and inexperienced ecotourists

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