Xjenza Online Vol. 6 Iss. 2 - December 2018
Does Absence of Charismatic Species Impact the Ecotourism Potential of Central Mediterranean Islands?
Karl Agius, Nadia Theuma, Alan Deidun
Karl Agius (email@example.com)
Charismatic species, ecotourism, central Mediterranean, islands, conservation
Issue: Xjenza Online Vol. 6 Iss. 2 - December 2018
Central Mediterranean Islands tend to be devoid of large terrestrial charismatic fauna which usually serve as target species for ecotourism. This has raised questions on the potential of ecotourism in such destinations. However it has been argued that absence of charismatic megafauna should not be considered as a limitation. Ecotours were organised on nine islands in the central Mediterranean region. Interviews and focus groups were held with participants of the ecotours and stakeholders. It has been argued that most charismatic species are marine, touting marine ecotourism as the ideal tourism product. Furthermore, rather than focusing on charismatic species, the ecotourism product on such islands should revolve around the various coastal environments and habitats and other smaller species including non-mammals, especially endemic ones thus facilitating a broader approach to conservation. Owing to the remarkable biodiversity of plant species, charismatic megaflora and plants have also been identified as important targets for ecotourism. Furthermore, due to the intense environmental pressure and limited size of protected areas the overlap with cultural, rural and adventure tourism has been suggested. In order for the ecotourism product to be more competitive archipelago tourism also referred to as island hopping is also recommended, a proposal which is supported by the presence of endemic and sub-endemic species. Results show that absence of charismatic species does not limit ecotourism development on such islands.