Handbook of applied research tools for sustainable tourism: A guide for practitioners

Screenshot EE logo

Currently in development, this comprehensive Handbook plans to bring together practical advice from leading international practitioners in sustainable tourism. This guidance is not intended as a guide for long-term academic projects, but instead applies good research design principles within the parameters of modest timeframes and resources, to provide workable and rational step-by-step approaches to researching real-life challenges.

The book’s contributors will unpack how to undertake environmental, socio-cultural and economic assessments that establish the feasibility for new tourism ventures, or ascertain what impacts they have had over time. The book will cover the fundamentals for practitioners, such as how to conduct feasibility studies and business plans, and also addresses hot topics such as visitor management and overcrowding, carbon offsets for travellers, and also standards and certification.

This Handbook is envisaged for use by researchers at all levels, and particularly to those working within government institutions responsible for tourism and private tourism businesses. It is also intended also an invaluable resource for practitioners, not-for-profit organizations and consultants that provide technical support in the planning, feasibility, development, operation and evaluation of sustainable tourism.

The book will form part of a new Research Handbooks in Tourism series.

Working Table of Contents

Part 1: Planning and designing sustainable tourism
Policy and strategy development
Tourism master planning for destinations
Commercialization strategies for protected areas
Feasibility studies & business plans for new lodging facilities
Funding proposals for new tourism ventures
Planning for optimal local involvement in tourism and partnership development
Sustainable architecture and landscape design
Predicting returns on investment
Environmental and social impact assessments
Establishing indicators for sustainable tourism

Part 2: Enhancing the sustainability of existing tourism
Supply chain analysis
Value chain analysis
Environmental audits and interventions
Establishing sustainability standards
Market research on the demand for sustainable tourism
Use of the Delphi consultation approach for complex issues

Part 3: Balancing overtourism and undertourism: Visitor management in practice Visitor Use Management Framework
Limits of Acceptable Change
Visitor capacity & overtourism
Willingness to Pay
Carbon offsetting for travellers

Part 4: Monitoring and evaluation
Visitor counting and surveys
Economic impact assessment approaches
Case study research
Social and cultural impact assessment
Tourism certification audits
Knowledge transfer

Part 5: Conclusion

For more information, or to contribute, please contact Dr Anna Spenceley


Revenue sharing from tourism in terrestrial African protected areas: 50 free copies

by Anna Spenceley, Susan Snyman & Andrew Rylance

AbstractJOST cover

A prerequisite for the sustainability of protected areas in Africa is the meaningful inclusion of local populations in conservation and tourism. This has been demonstrated in numerous destinations where communities receive benefits from tourism in terrestrial protected areas, they are more inclined to view it positively and conserve natural resources. This paper presents a review of revenue-sharing literature, and also an analysis of the evidence of quantified benefits accrued by local communities in Africa through institutional arrangements to share revenue or finance development projects by (1) protected areas, and (2) tourism enterprises. The review highlights the challenges of revenue sharing as well as four key components of successful revenue-sharing systems: (1) economic benefits must be clearly identified and communicated, (2) benefits are appropriate to the scale of threats to biodiversity, (3) involvement of communities in decision-making on the structure and process of the distribution system, and also how the revenues are used and (4) sufficient regulatory and institutional support is necessary to develop clear objectives, aims, goals and responsibilities. This paper constitutes the first multi-country, multi-scheme analysis of revenue sharing in terrestrial African protected areas.

Click here for one of the 50 free copies of the article.

Citation: Anna Spenceley, Susan Snyman & Andrew Rylance (2019) Revenue sharing from tourism in terrestrial African protected areas, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 27:6, 720-734, DOI: 10.1080/09669582.2017.1401632

Permanent link here.


Decision framework on management models for parks and protected areas

A new paper in the Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, by Anna Spenceley, Sue Snyman and Paul Eagles


There are two categories of management approaches for the delivery of tourism services; insourcing or out- sourcing. This paper presents a decision framework for the choice of a management model for the delivery of tourism-related services in protected areas.

Screenshot Question 1

The research used the expert opinion of 28 PA senior tourism managers from the protected area and tourism authorities of 11 countries in the Southern Africa Development Community to identify the advantages and disadvantages of the use of 5 different management models for the delivery of tourism services:

1) outsourcing to private, profit-making companies
2) outsourcing to a community
3) outsourcing to a nongovernment organization
4) outsourcing to a joint venture company, and
5) insourcing to the PA authority

The comparisons utilized 7 themes:

1) finance
2) tourism operations
3) socioeconomic impact
4) governance
5) risk
6) human resources, and
7) environment and conservation

A total of 190 comparative findings were identified. The 28 senior tourism managers provided comments on the advantages and disadvantages of each management model according to all themes. These comments were summarized into a table of findings.

The research found that all five management models are useful, but the decisions to choose the management model are highly influenced by the current legal and policy structure of the PA authority. This research provides information that can assist PA managers in the decision structure for the choice of and implementation of the various management approaches for the provision of tourism services in protected areas.

This is the first paper of its kind to compare and analyse different management models using literature, research, as well as practitioners’ experience and technical knowledge. Further research on all the models and the different potential options would be useful in providing a greater understanding of all the options to finance protected areas through tourism.

Access here

Available now! Private Sector Tourism in Conservation Areas in Africa

Susan Snyman, Senior Research Fellow, University of Johannesburg 

Anna Spenceley, Honorary Fellow, University of Brighton; Senior Research Fellow, University of Johannesburg

Apr 2019 | 264pp


Private Sector Tourism in Conservation Areas in Africa is the first book to provide a detailed analysis of private sector involvement and partnerships in tourism in Africa. It includes best practices and processes to develop tourism partnerships with the private sector, and highlights important tools to enhance sustainability of tourism in Africa, involving numerous stakeholders.


“Using a rich set of detailed case studies, this volume furnishes the first comprehensive analysis of the role of the private sector in conservation areas. For researchers of tourism, development studies and biodiversity conservation this book is a new and important benchmark in African scholarship.” – Christian M. Rogerson, University of Johannesburg

“This is an impressive book that will make an important contribution to the literature on private-sector involvement in the delivery of tourism services in parks and protected areas in Africa.” – Dr. Paul F. J. Eagles, University of Waterloo

Tourism in Africa’s protected and conserved areas involves partnerships and interactions between numerous stakeholders such as governments, communities, NGOs, the private sector and academics. Through the use of 32 comprehensive case studies from 11 African countries, this book presents guidelines to ensure optimal benefits for stakeholders as well as promoting the sustainability of tourism in Africa. It includes descriptions of the various models for the private sector to engage in tourism in conservation areas in Africa, such as pure private sector ownership, joint ventures, tripartite agreements and government leases. End-to-end coverage of the processes used to develop these partnerships is provided, as well as best practices for the private sector engaging in tourism. The book provides guidance on identifying the most suitable private sector tourism options based on guidelines of conditions and desired outcomes, to promote the long-term sustainability of African tourism in protected areas.

Key features include:

– The first book to provide a detailed analysis of private sector involvement and partnerships in tourism in Africa.
– Includes best practice examples to develop tourism partnerships with the private sector.
– Highlights important tools to enhance the sustainability of tourism in Africa, involving numerous stakeholders.

This book is recommended for academics, students and practitioners working in sustainable tourism, including community, private sector and government stakeholders.

Case studies in the book

Country Lodge/ camp Private Sector Stakeholder/ Company


Vumbura Plains and Little Vumbura Wilderness Safaris
Mombo Camp and Little Mombo Wilderness Safaris
Ethiopia Bale Mountain Lodge Jember Ltd
Simien Lodge Nick Crane
Kenya Satao Elerai Satao Elerai Ltd
Namibia Damaraland Camp Wilderness Safaris
Doro Nawas Camp Wilderness Safaris
Serra Cafema Wilderness Safaris
Wolwedans NamibRand Nature Reserve
Malawi Mkulumadzi Lodge Robin Pope Safaris
Thawale Lodge Sunbird
Mozambique Anvil Bay Chemucane Lodge Chemucane Tourism Company (CTC)
Covane Community Lodge Scholtz Consutoria e servicos Lda
Ndzou Camp Eco-Micaia Lda.
Nkwichi Lodge Nkwichi Lodge
Rwanda Bisate Lodge Wilderness Safaris
Ruzizi Tented Camp Akagera Management Company
Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge Governor’s Camps
South Africa Pafuri Camp Return Africa
Ngala Main Camp and Ngala Tented Camp &Beyond
Singita Lebombo Singita
Phinda lodges &Beyond
Rocktail Camp Wilderness Safaris
!Xaus Lodge Transfrontier Park Destinations
Witieshoek Lodge Transfrontier Park Destinations
Tanzania Chumbe Island Chumbe Island Coral Park Limited (CHICOP)
Zambia King Lewanika Lodge Norman Carr Safaris
Zimbabwe Davison’s Camp; Little Makalolo; Linkwasha (Hwange camps) Wilderness Safaris


Click these links for either the e-book or hardback editions on Amazon or the hardback from the publisher CABI

Snyman & Spenceley


World Bank Group review of Nature-based tourism tools and resources

WBG logoThe World Bank is committed to tackling the world’s toughest development challenges – especially poverty and inequality. All of our resources – our global development knowledge, investment capital, financial expertise and country presence – are devoted to making the world a more just and prosperous place. Tourism can play an integral role in helping us fulfil this mission.  In many developing countries, tourism promotes inclusive economic growth, creating jobs and attracting foreign investors.

Nature-based tourism is a growing sector and the World Bank is interested to understand what tools and resources are already available to support developing countries plan for and implement sustainable nature-based tourism offerings.

The Nature-Based Tourism (NBT) Community of Practice (CoP), part of the Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice in the World Bank, has commissioned a review of relevant tools and resources to help the World Bank’s staff and clients enhance preparation and implementation of projects that have a NBT component.

We would like to invite to you to contribute to this process, through a short survey, to help ensure that all applicable tools and resources are captured.

The survey should take just 5-10 minutes to complete, and it will be open until 30 April 2019.

To access the survey, click here, or paste this link into your web browser https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WB_NBT_Survey

Please circulate this invitation to others in your networks that may be interested.

IUCN Massive Open Online Course on Valorisation of Protected Area Resources


This MOOC is about the sustainable use or valorisation of natural resources in protected areas. The main goal of this course is to introduce some of the commonly-used ways to sustainably valorise protected areas (and their resources), thereby contributing to their long-term conservation.  It focuses on two complementary approaches: (1) benefits (direct or indirect) provided by natural resources in protected areas, and (2) sustainable tourism and its benefits, costs, opportunities and threats. The second part of the course is based on the IUCN Best Practice Guidelines on Tourism and Visitor Management in Protected Areas, developed by 58 members of the IUCN WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group.

iucn wcpa tapas logo

Enrol here (English and French available): http://papaco.org/mooc-val/


PART 1: NATURAL RESOURCES                         

Module 1: Ecosystem services
1.1 Introduction to the module
1.2 What are ecosystem services?
1.3 The range of ecosystem services and associated typology
1.4 Food security
1.5 Water security
1.6 Human security & disaster risk reduction
1.7 Climate change mitigation and adaptation
1.8 Cultural and spiritual benefits

Module 2: Managing ecosystem services
2.1 Introduction to the module
2.2 Understanding Ecosystem Services
2.3 Opportunities
2.4 Threats
2.5 Assessment and evaluation
2.6 Management
2.7 Management of indirect values
2.8 Monitoring and evaluation

Module 3: Rights and benefits for local and more distant communities
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Distribution of benefits from ecosystem services
3.3 Participatory approaches to understanding the range of benefits supplied by PAs
3.4 Free, Prior and Informed Consent and other principles (Malawi, Akwe Kon)
3.5 Resource-use agreements including both local agreements and e.g. bioprospecting
3.6 Co-benefit schemes such as Payment for Ecosystem Services
3.7 Managing expectations – summary of key advice no using ecosystem services from protected areas


Module 4: Tourism and visitation in protected areas, its governance and impacts
4.1 Introduction to the module
4.2 Overview of the TAPAS Group and the BPG
4.3 Sustainable tourism: opportunities and challenges
4.4 Environmental costs and benefits
4.5 Social and cultural costs and benefits
4.6 Economic costs and benefits

Module 5: Aligning PA management objectives and tourism
5.1 Introduction to the module
5.2 Principle #1 and #2 on management objectives and proactive planning
5.3 Principle #3 on visitor use conditions
5.4 Principle #4 on resource impacts and social conditions
5.5 Principle #5 on management practices
5.6 Principle #6 on impact
5.7 Principle #7 on monitoring
5.8 Principles #8 and #9 on Decision making and Affected groups
5.9 Principle #10 on communication

Module 6: Capacity building, managing tourism revenues for conservation
6.1 Introduction to the module
6.2 Capacity building for managers, local communities and partnership
6.3 Generating tourism revenue from fees and donations
6.4 Generating tourism revenue from concessions
6.5 Cost saving and efficiency
6.6 Wider economic benefits and their links to conservation outcomes
6.7 The future of protected area tourism

Conclusion of the MOOC


Congratulations to the first two graduates of the course!

By the end of March 2019, 694 students had registered in French and 253 in English (947 in total)!



Tourism and Visitor Management in Protected Areas released by IUCN: English and Spanish versions

Guidelines to help protected area authorities establish sustainable tourism and visitation

The IUCN released a new publication titled Tourism and Visitor Management in Protected Areasat the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 14th Conference of the Parties, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt on 27 November 2018.

Cover BPG2Protected area managers need a wide range of skills to manage the complexities of protected area systems. The IUCN Best Practice Guidelines Series aims to address these needs, including sharing experience drawn from good practices around the world. Many protected areas are managed for tourism and visitation as one component of achieving their purpose, involving a wide range of stakeholders, including the private sector. The rapidly expanding demand for tourism development associated with protected areas emphasises the need to provide clear guidance that will contribute towards sustainable tourism consistent with the primary conservation objectives of protected areas. The legal, political, economic and social contexts for tourism in and around protected areas vary widely across the globe, yet there are many common elements and a diversity of experiences that can enrich the understanding of those involved.

These guidelines are an initiative of the IUCN WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist (TAPAS) Group. One of several voluntary groups convened under IUCN WCPA, the TAPAS Group is a network of over 500 volunteers who are committed to promoting sustainable tourism in protected areas as a tool in achieving the long-term conservation of nature and associated ecosystem and cultural values. The TAPAS Group’s work includes disseminating knowledge, case studies and best practices on tourism and protected areas. This is the third edition on the subject of tourism in IUCN WCPA’s Best Practice Guidelines series, and builds on the foundations created by these guidelines published in 1992 (McNeely, et al., 1992) and in 2002 (Eagles, et al., 2002).

The guidelines are supported with an Online Resources Directory, which provides additional readings and invites sharing of new resources too.

Dr. Yu-Fai Leung, the Editor-in-Chief and member of the TAPAS Group’s ExCo, said: “This publication is a major milestone in building a global community of practice in protected area tourism. The diversity of best-practice examples, both geographically and topically, attest that innovative solutions for sustainable tourism and visitation in protected areas are achievable in all protected area systems regardless of their geography, governance types, and cultures. Sharing these cases through this publication and its associated online resource directory is essential if tourism is to fulfill its positive role in global conservation.”

Dr. Anna Spenceley, Chair of the TAPAS Group and co-editor of the publication said: “This guideline is the result of incredible effort by many highly committed and dedicated people, both within the TAPAS Group and beyond. The collaborative and iterative approach we adopted has generated meaningful and practical guidance for practitioners working sustainable tourism in protected areas across the world. We are immensely proud of this achievement, and incredibly grateful to all the contributors who participated in our journey, including numerous authors, reviewers, designers and editors.”

Dr. Glen Hvenegaard, co-editor of the publication and past Chair of the TAPAS Group’s Knowledge Development Working Group, added: “This publication will help develop a worldwide community of practice that develops, tests, shares, and challenges tourism practices in protected areas to support conservation goals.”

The production of these Guidelines was sponsored by the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (IUCN WCPA), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf the Federal German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development. Their generous contributions supported the development of this document in English, as well as its translation into French, German, and Spanish.

Available online:

English: https://portals.iucn.org/library/node/47918
Spanish: https://portals.iucn.org/library/node/48354

Online database of sustainable tourism guidelines and resources: https:/go.ncsu.edu/iucn-sustainabletourism-bpg/

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IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA)
The WCPA is the world’s premier network of protected
area expertise. It is supported by IUCN’s Programme on Protected Areas and has over 1,400 members, spanning 140 countries. IUCN WCPA works: by helping governments and others plan protected areas and integrate them into all sectors; by providing strategic advice to policy makers; by strengthening capacity and investment in protected areas; and by convening the diverse constituency of protected area stakeholders to address challenging issues. For more than 50 years, IUCN and WCPA have been at the forefront of global action on protected areas. www.iucn.org/wcpa

IUCN WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group
The IUCN WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist (TAPAS) Group is a voluntary network of over 500 people. The mission of the TAPAS Group is to provide a platform for protected area practitioners and others, where expertise and knowledge is shared, sustainability awareness is enhanced, collaboration and dialogue is facilitated, leadership is developed, and innovative solutions are fostered, in order to support the oversight of sustainable tourism in protected area systems. www.iucn.org/theme/protected-areas/wcpa/what-we-do/tourism-tapas

WCPA Best Practice Protected Area Guideline Series
IUCN-WCPA’s Best Practice Protected Area Guidelines are the world’s authoritative resource for protected area managers. Involving collaboration among specialist practitioners dedicated to supporting better implementation in the field, they distil learning and advice drawn from across IUCN. Applied in the field, they are building institutional and individual capacity to manage protected area systems effectively, equitably and sustainably, and to cope with the myriad of challenges faced in practice. They also assist national governments, protected area agencies, nongovernmental organisations, communities and private sector partners to meet their commitments and goals, and especially the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Programme of Work on Protected Areas. www.iucn.org/pa_guidelines