Is wildlife tourism viable economic development for rural areas? My instinct tells me yes, but I keep craving some real data to work with.
My little area of Oklahoma has just opened a huge project after five years of serious preparatory work (read the Enid News and Eagle story or visit the Great Plains Trail of Oklahoma site). I think it will work well, but I keep wondering. The organizers said “it worked in Texas,” but what factors were key to that success? Have we made sure to use the best and adapt to our particular situation, or did we just listen to the well-meaning but frequently dangerous consultants?
What would help would be a some kind of tools or metrics, so rural areas could decide what and which wildlife tourism projects to invest in. Even a list of mistakes made and lessons learned could be extremely helpful. So, if you have the chance, be sure to share the lessons learned from all your projects. We have to help each other to survive!
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