The Impact of Wilderness Tourism

The market for tourism In remote areas is booming as never before. Countries ail across the world are actively promoting their ‘wilderness’ regions - such as mountains, Arctic lands, deserts, small islands and wetlands - to high-spending tourists. The attraction of these areas is obvious.- by definition, wilderness tourism requires little or no initial investment. But that does not mean that there is no cost. As the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development recognized, these regions are fragile (i.e. highly vulnerable to abnormal pressures) not just in terms of their ecology, but also in terms of the culture of their inhabitants. The three most significant types of fragile environment in these respects, and also in terms of the proportion of the Earth's surface they cover, are deserts, mountains and Arctic areas. An important characteristic is their marked seasonality, with harsh conditions prevailing for many months each year. Consequently, most human activities, including tourism, are limited to quite clearly defined parts of the year.

Tourists are drawn to these regions by their natural landscape beauty and the unique cultures of their indigenous people. And poor governments in these isolated areas have welcomed the new breed of ‘adventure tourist’, grateful for the hard currency they bring. For several years now, tourism has been the prime source of foreign exchange in Nepal and Bhutan. Tourism is also a key element in the economies of Arctic zones such as Lapland and Alaska and in desert areas such as Ayers Rock in Australia and Arizona’s Monument Valley.


Q1. The low financial cost of selling up wilderness tourism makes it attractive to many countries.