Investing in protected areas rewarding, says World Bank

Investing in protected areas rewarding, says World Bank

A new World Bank report released on Monday showed that for every dollar governments invest in protected areas and support for nature-based tourism, the economic rate of return is at least six-times the original investment.

The report, titled ‘Banking on protected areas: Promoting sustainable nature-based tourism to benefit local communities’, found that the original investment triggered a chain of benefits for local businesses and households – even for those not directly connected to the tourism sector.

Given these economic benefits, the report argued that the promotion of sustainable tourism in protected areas should be included in COVID-19 economic recovery plans, an investment that creates local jobs, improves incomes and protects biodiversity.

World Bank Global Director for Environment, Natural Resources and Blue Economy, Karin Kemper, said,“Prior to the pandemic, there were more than eight billion visits a year to marine and terrestrial protected areas, providing a vital source of income for communities who rely on tourism.

“As countries emerge from the pandemic and rebuild their tourism sectors, investing in protected areas is a win for conservation and for development.”

When tourists visited protected areas, they pay park entry fees, which provided direct revenues to governments, and they also spent money on hotels, meals, transportation, souvenirs, and other tourism services that stimulate the local economy.

When the sum of these direct and indirect economic benefits was calculated, it provided an estimate of the rate of return on public investment in protected areas and nature-based tourism.

The report looked at four countries which are Brazil, Fiji, Nepal and Zambia, and found that the benefits of investing in protected areas far outweighed the costs of that original investment.

The rates of return were impressive, the report stated.

The report also looked at how the promotion of nature-based tourism in protected areas impacted economic development and create jobs.

It added that the findings showed that for every additional dollar spent by a tourist, local incomes increased by more than a dollar.

This meant that the revenues from nature-based tourism mostly stayed and accrued additional benefits in local economies.

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