institutions, can and do damage natural resources. The management objectives of nature tourism include minimizing those damages. Popular sites often are overused and degraded. As a result, they can lose many ecological functions and amenities, such as wildlife and their habitats, that made them destinations in the first place. Many National, State, and other parks, wilderness areas, and other public lands and waters experienced such overuse and deterioration of recreation and other values. Improper location and design of tourism development have destroyed beaches and dunes, ruined scenic views, and eroded fragile resources. Sprawling housing and commercial development in suburban and ex-urban areas destroy wildlife habitat; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Science Advisory Board noted in a 1990 report that the destruction of wildlife habitat is one of the most serious ecological problems facing the earth.
To avoid negative community effects and to develop tourism that supports the surrounding human and physical environment, holistic management objectives must be driven by local control of tourism. Tools are needed to assure protection of a community's social, economic, and environmental interests -- land-use restrictions, if necessary; education of tourists/recreation users; restricted numbers of visitors or permit limits for certain types of recreation, if necessary; public ownership or conservation easements on private lands in sensitive areas; special management areas on sensitive public lands; habitat management and protection; and so forth.
Developing a Nature Tourism Industry That Benefits the Community
State and local parks and wildlife management areas can usually be better managed for the enrichment and continuance of wildlife diversity, as well as other public lands (for example, institutional and military properties). Private landowners also can provide habitat protection, and some communities and private organizations offer incentives for that protection (such as conservation easements, special tax treatment, and cost sharing for habitat restoration). Assessing and monitoring the impacts of nature tourism on natural resources also is an important responsibility of nature tourism promoters.
Developing an attractive tourist economy that is part of a community's economic base requires careful planning and coordination among those who design, build, manage, and market natural tourist attractions. The design, planning, and management of tourism facilities have a large impact on how a community is perceived by potential visitors. Vacation service jobs --cooks, maids, waiters -- don't pay well, may be seasonal, and do not provide important benefits such as health care insurance. To help residents benefit more from tourism, State and local governments, for example, can promote:
local ownership, management, and operation of small businesses like