The relationship between tourism and conservation has always been complex and layered: tourism could aid and sustain conservation, yet, it could also pose a challenge for conservation itself. Perhaps, the questions we need to ask to unravel this conundrum are, ‘how much tourism is good’ and ‘what kind of tourism is good’?
The concept of Tourism Carrying Capacity developed as a response to this question and provided a way to assess the tolerance level of resources and limits of use beyond which degradation or negative impacts occur at a tourist destination. It evolved from an understanding that every place has multiple dimensions such as ecological limits of the area, the economic benefits or loss from tourism, the social and cultural relationships between the people and the environment and the political participation of the local people in decisions about both tourism and conservation.
The panel brings together a wide range of people with expertise in wildlife biology, marine biology and community based conservation, who all have grappled with the multiple questions that tourism poses. The panellists will try to unpack the relationship between tourism and conservation and examine if assessing Tourism Carrying Capacity is necessary, the policies and practices that are in place and the considerations that need to be kept in mind for such an assessment.