Key Issues

For a century, the tourism use of protected areas has developed and increased. After 1945, the increase accelerated due to expanding populations, more affluence and greater availability of parks and protected areas. Worldwide, park managers adapted their policies and management structures as the use evolved. Many countries, for example Australia, Costa Rica, Kenya and New Zealand, attribute a significant portion of their tourism industry to protected area tourism. The size of the industry is so large that a vital public debate has emerged.

Many studies document the relationship between tourism and parks. However, most occur at the park or subpark level. Fewer studies highlight successful planning and management approaches at a broader scale. A few countries are developing national policies. There is strong interest in many other countries to learn from the experience of the policy leaders in this regard.

There is an emerging need to develop a broader understanding of the complex relationships between tourism and protected areas. There is a lack of baseline inventory of the scale of protected area tourism. Over time, managers developed successful approaches, both theoretical and applied, for tourism management in protected areas. These need to be documented, analysed and made available to the broad community of interest.


  • Provide guidance to the WCPA, IUCN and others, on the relationships between tourism and protected areas.
  • Identify the size and characteristics of protected area tourism.
  • Develop case studies to investigate best practice models for tourism management.
  • Develop guidelines for the management of tourism in protected areas.
  • Communicate tourism management theory and practice to planners, managers and others.
  • Provide opportunities for parks and tourism people to work together on shared issues within protected area tourism.

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  • World Commission on Protected Areas Logo

Specialist Group Leader

Email: annaspenceley@gmail.com



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