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Small islands as ecotourism destinations : a Central Mediterranean perspective

Abstract

A prerequisite for ecotourism development is the presence of natural environments, normally exhibited in protected areas, which serve as ecotourism venues. Little attention has been given to Mediterranean islands in terms of ecotourism. In this paper, nine islands in the central Mediterranean region were studied through a case study approach to investigate their potential as ecotourism destinations, taking into account the presence of protected areas and related aspects, including spatial dimensions and quality, to fulfil ecotourists. Larger islands with higher population densities were found to experience habitat fragmentation, and protected areas were thus in some cases relatively small and dispersed. In contrast, smaller, less populated islands were found to be more ideal ecotourism destinations due to limited anthropogenic impact and their capacity to fulfil the expectations of the ‘true specialists’, also known as ‘hard ecotourists’. Quality of ecotourism venues was found to affect ecotourist satisfaction. Ideal ecotourism sites on heavily impacted islands were found on the island periphery, in coastal and marine locations, with marine ecotourism serving as the ideal ecotourism product on such islands.peer-reviewe

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