The paper "Marine Tourism in Australia " is a worthy example of a case study on tourism. The term special interest in tourism is applied to different segments of mainstream tourism. The term special is used when the form of tourism being addressed is definable and involves a relatively smaller niche market where specified activities are experienced. One major aspect used to identify special interest tourism (SIT) is the degree of ego involvement of the tourists. Under this, there are six common dimensions used to assess the ego namely, activity, experience, environment, motivation, risk, and performance.
Other models on SIT are based on the tourist’ s degree of involvement and the amount of complexity in the activity being undertaken. One of the major forms of SIT is marine tourism. Garner, Tents, and Elrick (2006, p. 68) cite Orams who define marine tourism as “ those recreational activities that involve travel away from one’ s place of residence and which have as their host or focus the marine environment (where the marine environment is defined as those waters which are saline and tide-affected)” .
This paper provides a discussion on Marine tourism in Australia as one form of SIT using relevant literature. Common characteristics of marine tourism Ordinarily, marine tourism takes place in coastal areas with islands being the highest beneficiaries of such. Austral has witnessed rampant growth in mainstream tourism and also marine tourism. Tourist numbers to these destinations have increased and vendors have also increased the number of recreational activities to engage tourists in. Consequently, man-made pools have been developed to replicate the marine wild. The impact on the economy has been monumental. As of 2005-2006, the Australian recreational industry inclusive of marine tourism produced AUD$58.3 billion in Gross Value Added annually to the national economy and employed approximately 810,000 people (Hardiman & Burgin 2010).
One of the biggest attractions in marine tourism is the Great Barrier Reef. The GBR does not simply refer to the actual barrier reef but the ecosystem around the barrier which comprises of over 2900 individual reefs and over 900 islands spreading over 2000 kilometers (1200 miles) north-south playing host to a wide range of fauna and flora (Parker).
In fact, the attraction is popular that it attracts over 1.6 million tourists annually amounting to direct revenues in excess of $1 billion per year (Harriot). Marine tourism in Australia is centered on interest in fauna and flora. The wide range of other recreational activities involved makes it a wholesome package. Notable activities of marine tourism according to Collins (p. 112) include “ four-wheel driving, beach camping, sea-kayaking, marine wildlife observation, sport fishing, and sightseeing trips. ” marine wildlife observation goes beyond the curious sightseers to marine scientists. However, the involvement of the local people in recreational activities around the major marine tourist attraction sites making it almost impossible to differentiate from commercial tourism activities.
Nonetheless, other activities such as infrastructure development for tourism activities and local people’ s infrastructural activities are easily differentiated based on the size of projects, intended use guided by local government approval systems (Harriot n. d.). Marine tourism is identifiable through a number of activities. In the Australian marine parks and especially within the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem, snorkeling and diving are very common. Most divers are keen on experiencing and interacting with the fauna and flora found underneath the water surface (Harriot n. d.).
Parker (n. d.) notes that the diversity of the fauna and flora in the GBR ecosystem is one of the most diverse in the world. There are over 400 different varieties of hard and soft corals, 4000 different mollusks, thousands of different sponges and crustaceans, 1500 species of fish plus countless other creatures, some unique to the GBR only. Such a wide range of fauna and flora is supported by the geographic location of the GBR near the equator which makes the waters warm.
Collins, J. 2008. Marine Tourism in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia. Geographical Research 46(1): 111–123, viewed 17 August 2012
Gardner, S., Tonts, M. & Elrick, C. 2006. A Socio-economic Analysis and Description of the Marine Industries of Australia’s South-west Marine Region. Final Report Submitted May 2006
Prepared for the Department of the Environment and Water Resources.
Harriot, V. 2005. Marine tourism impacts and their management on the Great Barrier Reef. CRC reef research center technical report NO 46. viewed 16 August 2012, http://www.reef.crc.org.au/publications/techreport/pdf/Harriott46.pdf
Hardiman, N. & Bargin, S. 2010. Recreational impacts on the fauna of Australian coastal marine ecosystems. Journal of Environmental Management. 91, 2096-2108
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