What is nature tourism?

There are many different meanings of the phrase 'nature tourism'. The research report defines nature tourism as: "tourism and day visitor activity where the primary or ancillary purpose is either to view wildlife in a natural setting or to engage with the natural environment in a purposive manner (including enjoying views of the natural landscape as well as observing habitats)."

So this would include visitors who have purposely set out to see some part of nature; this could be to visit a nature reserve or birdwatch or even just to enjoy a walk through the countryside.

However the research identified a wider category of tourism, and called this natural heritage tourism. This is tourism where nature is not the primary purpose but is rather the setting or place for the activity. In this way locations have been chosen because of the natural beauty or wildlife but the primary reason is to walk the dog, have a day out with the family or celebrate an occasion.

However, there are several other concepts that could be confused with nature tourism. These include green tourism, sustainable tourism and eco-tourism. According to their proper definitions all these terms are much wider and include sustainability as well as elements of nature tourism. While this is a very appropriate aim these concepts are too broad for the Nature Partnership to assess and measure currently.

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