Tourism has been utilising global biodiversity for a relatively long time. In many countries, such as Finland and South Africa, biodiversity forms an increasingly important resource for tourism. The mutual and sometimes conflicting relation between biodiversity and tourism is clearly evident in conservation areas. The importance of National Parks, for example, is highlighted by the protection and conservation of biodiversity through ecotourism to retain visitors while increasing experiences: it is apparent that a more diverse and unique destination would have greater appeal to all visitors. However, the increasing interest also creates impacts to environment, visitor‟s experiences and management needs. This research examines and determines the tangible level of importance of biodiversity in Oulanka National Park in Finland compared to Golden Gate Highlands National Park in South Africa with the added effects on visitor experiences. Apart from the tangible level, this research also examines the affects of biodiversity richness on visitor experiences and perceptions regarding nature management regulations at Oulanka and Golden Gate. This is determined through various biodiversity attributes with visitors specifying the importance regarding the richness of plants, habitats, wildlife, birdlife and unspoilt nature and biodiversity hotspots. More than three quarters of respondents specified that their relationships regarding biodiversity and experiences are strongly connected thereby indicating the role and importance of biodiversity in Oulanka National Park and Golden Gate Highlands National Park. Findings also illustrate respondents‟ views on nature management regulations of the national parks and together with the known role of biodiversity, suggest the way forward for Oulanka and Golden Gate through ecotourism and a Biodiversity Tourism Management Guidelines (BTMG) framework.
Dissertation (MCom)--University of Pretoria, 2013.