Ensuring local support for protected areas is increasingly viewed as an important element of biodiversity conservation. This is often predicated on the provision of benefits from protected areas, and a common means of providing such benefits is tourism development. However, the relationship between receipt of tourism benefits and support for conservation has not been explored. This study examined local attitudes towards protected area tourism and the effects of tourism benefits on local support for Komodo National Park, Indonesia. Komodo National Park is a flagship for tourism in a region where protected areas are becoming increasingly visited and where local support for conservation has not been investigated. Results of a questionnaire survey revealed positive attitudes towards tourism and high support for conservation (93.7%), as well as a recognition that tourism is dependent upon the existence of the park. Positive attitudes towards tourism were positively related to the receipt of economic benefits, and to support for conservation. However, a positive relationship between receipt of tourism benefits and support for conservation was not identified, suggesting that benefits from protected area conservation make no difference to local support for conservation. Local people recognized distributional inequalities in tourism benefits, and the most common complaints were of local inflation and tourist dress code. To fully identify the impacts of protected area tourism, long-term studies of local attitudes alongside traditional economic and ecological assessments are recommended.
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