Wildlife tourism is growing in popularity, diversity of target species, and type of tours. This presents difficulties for management policy that must balance the complex trade-offs between conservation, animal welfare, and pragmatic concerns for tourist satisfaction and economic value. Here, we provide a widely applicable, multidisciplinary framework to assess the impacts of wildlife tourism focusing on industry tractability, socioeconomic values, and their effects on conservation, animal welfare, and ecosystem impacts. The framework accommodates and quantifies the complexity of factors influencing wildlife tourism management, including direct and indirect effects on target and nontarget species, and identifies priorities for future biological, socioeconomic, and cultural heritage research. When applied to white shark cage-diving as a case study, the output demonstrates the utility of the framework for researchers, managers, and policy makers, and highlights the benefits of undertaking the assessment as an inclusive workshop to facilitate a more multidisciplinary assessment of wildlife tourism industries. The use of a universally applicable assessment framework will enable the identification of relevant factors to account for when managing wildlife tourism, provide an inventory of current knowledge, identify research needs, and semiquantitatively compare categories and target and nontarget species, leading to improved conservation outcomes for species and ecosystems.
- nonlethal consumptive use
- sustainable tourism