Eco and wildlife tourism has become increasingly popular and many tour operators are trying to pushing for an agenda that show that their tours make people care about the animals more. For the first time, these tour operators might have some evidence to back what they are saying as two researchers, Kirin Apps and Dr. Charlie Huveneers of Flinders University have performed a study to test whether eco-tours have changed someones support for conservation.
The study was released in Marine Policy and focused on people who had recently partaken in shark diving excursions. The report found that seven out of the eight measures tested resulted in people showing support for shark conservation.
The excursions that the study focused on were near Port Lincoln, South Australia where divers are typically put in a cage in the ocean that is frequented by great white sharks. The findings also showed that many of the divers went onto joining groups on social media dedicated to saving sharks and signing petitions to promote sharks to friends.
Although this is a small sample size and many who choose to partake in a shark diving experience are more likely aware of shark and marine conservation, it is a starting ground to show the potential importance in aligning eco-tourism with conservation.
The hope is that as eco-tourism continues to build, the revenue generated will help convince law makers to extend conservation efforts to help protect environments.