Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Wildland Resources


Barrie Gilbert


Robert Schmidt


Steve Burr


Following a worldwide pattern of rapid ecotourism growth, British Columbia's wildlife-viewing industry is poised to expand in the near future. Using a case study example of Knight Inlet Lodge, the province'S first and to date only destination for viewing grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) in the wild, I examine three criteria for sustainability that may help determine the short- and long-term direction and success of this industry: economic viability, ecological sensitivity, and cultural appropriateness.

A high demand for ecotourism and wildlife viewing, both worldwide and in British Columbia in particular, is tempered by the potential economic pitfalls of ecotourism and the difficulties of calculating the value of viewed species and habitats. Nonetheless, an economic analysis of Knight Inlet Lodge and comparable locations in Alaska reveals a high demand and income potential for bear viewing in British Columbia.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the potential for ecotourism and wildlife viewing to have an adverse effect on the species and habitats on which they depend. A literature review reveals the numerous ways in which this can occur on different types of targets, including bears, but also suggests ways to minimize this impact.

Ecotourism's challenge of satisfying the needs and desires of both visitors and local communities, and ultimately enriching both in economic and cultural ways, begins with assembling baseline socioeconomic data. A survey of Knight Inlet Lodge guests, when compared to similar data on North American ecotourists and residents, indicates that visitors tend to be well-educated, financially secure, older, and concerned with the wellbeing of their natural surroundings and the animals they travel to view-both of which local communities tend to value highly as well.


This work made publicly available electronically on January 29, 2013.