Declining visit rates in nature-based tourism of wealthy countries like Japan and USA show a shift away from this new trend which is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world’s largest industry.  However it seems that this tendency which is a great justification for conservation is increasing elsewhere.

There is no doubt that this new recreational trend in tourism plays an important role as an ecosystem service, that generates resources for economic development, environmental conservation and connection between people and their natural environment.  “Data from as many sources as possible the grey and published literature, personal contacts, and especially the World Wide Web”, “compiled information on visitor numbers to 280 protected areas in 20 countries between 1992 and 2006 to explore the generality of the USA and Japan results and to understand the apparent mismatch with the claim that globally nature based tourism is on the rise. (Balford et al,2009).  Did people forgot how fun is nature recreation in these nations or are they to busy working? It is interesting to notice that the decline in these two well of countries are far from globally typical.

One discussion is if the decrease is related to disaffection with nature, growing of urbanization or increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Nevertheless there is not enough specific data to prove the emerging disconnect between people and the environment, or urban inactive habits. “We do not have a ready explanation for this negative link between visit growth and wealth and believe this will be hard to unravel from correlational analyses alone”  (Balford et al, 2009) .

Other arguments regarding this decrease in nature-based activity is the fact that protected areas in Japan and the U.S. are not satisfying the expectations of visitors. ”Could be that many formal protected areas in richer countries are becoming increasingly crowded and thus less attractive to nature enthusiasts” (J. du Toit, personal correspondence).   My personal experience after being a past member of the California Parks and Recreation Society is that overcrowding has been a concern for tourists in National Parks for several years in the USA. “One other explanation for the pattern we see could be that there is a shift in preference away from domestic destinations as nature- focused tourists become wealthier and alternative wildlife attractions in less costly developing countries become more accessible” (Balford et al,2009) . This claim presents the evidence that developing countries are offering new well developed environmental friendly tourism alternatives for visitors of wealthy nations.  “In most developing countries visits to protected areas are growing at rates that mirror general increases in tourism and travel—in many cases by more than 4%” (Balford et al,2009).

In conclusion the creation of sustainable, nature-based tourism destinations is necessary because it creates awareness about our fragile planet, generates substantial resources for biodiversity conservation and local economic development. The results of the research article about global perspective on trends in recreational nature tourism suggests that irrespective from the decrease in well of nations like Japan and the United States this new trend is far from declining everywhere.

References:

Balmford A, Beresford J, Green J, Naidoo R, Walpole M, et al. 2009 A Global Perspective on Trends in Nature-Based Tourism. PLoS Biol 7(6): e1000144. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.100014

http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info:doi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.1000144