'Primate tourism', in which people travel and see wild primates in their natural environment, is a burgeoning industry, and one that has the potential to make a significant contribution to the conservation of endangered primate species.
However, serious concerns have been raised about the impact of primate tourism on the animals involved. Moreover, the human aspect of primate tourism remains largely unexplored. Consequently, we have very little understanding of the attitudes and expectations of the tourists, and a great deal also remains to be learned about how primate tourism is perceived by - and affects - local communities.
To maximise the value of tourism as a conservation tool for primates, it is essential to investigate simultaneously local people, the tourists, the primates, and the nature and consequences of the interactions between them.
To maximise the value of tourism as a conservation tool for primates, it is essential to investigate simultaneously local people, the tourists, the primates, and the nature and consequences of the interactions between them. Such information must then be effectively disseminated to those involved in primate tourism. It is the desire to address these goals that led to the establishment of the Primate Tourism Working Group.
The group aims to identify and discuss current issues in the primate tourism sector, and explore how scientific research can inform future primate tourism practice. Ultimately, the general aim is to produce guidelines that result in safe, ethically sound tourism designs that will contribute to the safety and wellbeing of non-human primates while also meeting the expectations of the tourist and tour operators, and the needs of local people.
To find out more about what you can do, contact one of the members involved.
Visit RIGHT Tourism for your guide to making animal friendly choices while you're on holiday.
To report cases of animal suffering visit the Born Free Foundation's Traveller's Animal Alert