Protected areas, conservation and tourism - financing the sustainable dream

Paul Anthony Whitelaw, Brian Edward Melville King, Denis Tolkach

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

93 Citations (Scopus)


Many commentators suggest that tourism could help fund the ever growing number of protected areas. The traditional reliance on government sources to support protected areas is increasingly untenable, in both the developed and developing world. This paper reviews the relationship between tourism and protected areas to assess opportunities for sustainable funding to assure effective stewardship. It explores a range of innovative and creative alternative funding mechanisms which could be consistent with a positive evolving relationship between tourism and protected areas. An outline classification of four protected area archetypes for management and funding purposes is suggested, based on a combination of visitation and biodiversity levels. To service the management of those four types, a series of non-government revenue streams are explored such as payments for ecosystem service (ES), environmental mortgages, intrinsic value funding, carbon abatement funding and research dividend funding. Issues discussed include: the willingness to pay on the part of potential visitors, the potential impact of fees on visitation, "quarantining" particularly valuable ecosystems from visitation and intrinsic value funding, the unpredictability of environmental mortgages and the potential stability of ES payments. Further research is required in data analysis and into the design of land tenure systems and regulatory mechanisms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)584-603
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Sustainable Tourism
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • alternative funding mechanisms
  • ecosystem services
  • nature-based tourism
  • protected areas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management

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