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Improving the Net Benefits from Tourism for People Living in Remote Northern Australia

  • Ecology
  • Economics
  • Geography


Tourism can be an important source of livelihoods at a destination level. Yet, while there are economic benefits associated with more tourists, there can also be costs to destinations in the form of negative environmental and social impacts. This paper illustrates tourism-related dilemmas for two remote regions within Australia’s tropical savannas where increasing visitor numbers are straining not only the very environmental assets that attract tourist, but also the host communities. The paper draws on research conducted under the auspices of the Tropical Savannas Management Cooperative Research Centre. Tourism impacts on the regions are described and, where possible, quantified and distributional effects discussed. Evidence is provided that host populations in the remote of Australia’s tropical savannas are willing to trade off environmental and social costs for economic benefits, but that this situation may not be ecologically sustainable. The regions are parts of much larger destinations and consequently peripheral to their concerns. The onus for sustainable tourism and regional development strategies therefore falls on local decision makers. The research presented here provides a framework for local decision makers and stakeholders to ask questions, collect relevant data, and proceed with informed debates and choices.

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