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Making Nature Your Business


A Guide for Starting a Nature Tourism Business in the Lone Star State

INTRODUCTION

Canoe at face of cliff

"'Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?' said Alice... 'That depends a good deal on where you want to go,' said the Cat... 'I don't much care where,' said Alice... 'Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat.' "1 Unlike the Alice of Lewis Carroll's imagination, persons who want to start a nature tourism business need a pathway that is clearly defined, or they could lose valuable time, investment capital and natural resources. Providing that pathway is the purpose of this guidebook.

Nature tourism was defined by the Texas Nature Tourism Task Force as "discretionary travel to natural areas that conserves the environmental, social and cultural values while generating an economic benefit to the local community."2 Nature tourists are travelers who spend their time and money enjoying and appreciating a broad range of outdoor activities.

The Texas Nature Tourism Task Force reported that Texas is internationally known as a destination for nature tourists. Throngs of hunters, anglers, campers, birdwatchers and other outdoor enthusiasts travel to Texas every year in pursuit of their favorite outdoor activity. Texas is preeminent among all states in valuable wetlands and as a result is the premier birdwatching destination in the U.S., according to results of an American Birding Association survey in 1993.3

Travel spending by all domestic and international visitors in Texas reached $40.4 billion in 2000. This represents a 10.5 percent increase over 1999. 4 An important component of this burgeoning trade is nature tourism, itself one of the fastest growing segments of a global travel industry. This increasing interest in nature tourism offers new economic opportunities for private landowners, cities, rural communities, Chambers of Commerce, non-profit organizations and others who wish to make tourism their business.

Persons who want to start a nature tourism business need a pathway that is clearly defined, or they could lose valuable time, investment capital and natural resources.

This guide is intended to provide a user-friendly and readable resource for persons interested in starting successful nature tourism businesses that are sensitive to the natural resources on which a nature business depends.


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