Sustainable tourism is seen as capable of providing both rural economic development and valorizing conservation. Unfortunately, it appears that many nature-based tourism operations are struggling to maintain the financial viability required to ensure this occurs. This study examined 41 forest-based tourism businesses in northeast New South Wales, Australia, to assess their ability to contribute to sustainable tourism. The businesses employed an average of 5.6 staff per business, including the owner(s). Approximately 61% of businesses had a gross income of less than AUS$100,000 and 40% of operators had a combined household income under AUS$25,000. A relatively large number of operators suggested that they were forced to charge fees that were either below cost or at cost. All operators suggested that their businesses did not have a negative impact on the environment, although nearly 46% of operators stated they had concerns about the environmental impact of their competitors. The overall results indicated that a majority of forest-based tourism operators in northeast NSW, because of their financial position, are probably not contributing substantially to local economic development and would have trouble adopting environmentally sustainable practices.
Buultjens, J, Tiyce, M & Gale, D 2003, 'Sustainable forest-based tourism in Northeast New South Wales, Australia: a problematic goal', Tourism Review International, vol. 7, no. 1, pp.1-12.
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