Purpose of the review

The Nature-Based Tourism (NBT) Community of Practice (CoP) was launched in December 2017 as an internal World Bank Group (WBG) community, whose focus is to help develop the NBT agenda within the Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) Global Practice. Under the guidance of ENR leadership team and with the active support of the core advisory group, the NBT CoP has facilitated collaboration and learning through a mix of products and services. The NBT CoP has commissioned a comprehensive review of the tools and knowledge resources that could be used by WBG staff to help them prepare and implement better projects. By providing this review of tools and resources, the NBT CoP will help project teams ensure that project activities meet the quality standards and safety guidelines needed to establish NBT activities in country.


Nature-based tourism (NBT) describes all forms of tourism that use natural resources , in a wild or undeveloped form . NBT is motivated by enjoying wildlife or undeveloped natural areas and may incorporate natural attractions including scenery, topography, waterways, vegetation, wildlife, and cultural heritage, and activities like hunting or white-water rafting. 1 There are a number of different terms used to describe NBT, which include ecotourism, wildlife tourism and geotourism (see Table 1 ). Successful NBT requires the ability to develop and market tourism products based on what the protected area has to offer, and the ability to maintain the quality of these areas for ongoing future use. The tourism potential of any protected area depends on a variety of factors, including location, accessibility, market demand, proximity to other popular tourism destinations, marketing, presence of local tourism businesses and infrastructure (e.g. accommodation, catering, guiding, etc.) 2 .

Table 1: Nature-based tourism terms and definitions

Term Definition
Nature based tourism Forms of tourism that use natural resources in a wild or undeveloped form. Nature-based tourism is travel for the purpose of enjoying undeveloped natural areas or wildlife.
Ecotourism Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, socially and economically sustains the well-being of the local people, and creates knowledge and understanding through interpretation and education.
Wildlife tourism A form of nature-based tourism that includes the consumptive and non-consumptive use of wild animals in natural areas. Wildlife tourism is centered around the observation and interaction with local animal and plant life in their natural habitats, as with safari tourism.
Geotourism Geotourism is defined as tourism that sustains or enhances the distinctive geographical character of a place—its environment, heritage, aesthetics, culture, and the well-being of its residents.

The World Bank Group further emphasises that NBT should contribute to poverty reduction and promote environmental sustainability. 3 The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) definition of sustainable tourism is: “Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.” 4 The types of NBT topics explored relate to the range of issues that practitioners need to draw on during the design or implementation of projects and programs (see Table 2 ).

Table 2: Scope of nature-based tourism tools and resources

NBT topics Types of tools and resources
  • Enabling policy environment: Policy, plans, national strategies, investment frameworks, legislation
  • Governance and institutional arrangements (e.g. joint-ventures; private ownership; community-based etc.)
  • Insourcing and outsourcing: Concessioning, public private partnerships, licenses, permits
  • Destination management
  • Infrastructure and facilities, including for park operations to support NBT
  • Visitor management (including overtourism and interpretation, transport management)
  • Human resources, capacity development and training
  • Product life cycle: Feasibility, design, development, operation, decommissioning
  • Sustainable tourism: environmental, social and economic sustainability
  • Impacts: Environmental, social, cultural and economic; positive and negative, including:

Community engagement and livelihoods

Ecological impacts on natural habitats and wildlife,

Energy use and greenhouse gas emissions

Value chains and supply chains, conservation finance

  • Risk management
  • Monitoring and evaluation: Indicators / Criteria

Information resources:

  • Books (and e-books)
  • Technical reports
  • Case studies
  • Best practice guidance, including:


Codes of conduct

  • International agreements


Certification systems for protected areas and tourism service providers, including:

  • Standards and criteria
  • Indexes and ratings
  • Indicators


Toolkits and ‘how to’ tools:

  • Financial assessment and evaluation tools
  • Research tools


Training and capacity building resources:

  • Online courses
  • Training materials and manuals
  • Webinars


Online platforms:

  • Online booking systems with sustainability ratings
  • Online databases and resource platforms
  • Websites hosting relevant resources


Institutions offering support services/tools/resources on NBT

Where possible, the materials sought were easily accessible (e.g. Open Source), and available for free or at low cost (e.g. less than USD 100). Completed materials, and also those in development stages, were also identified. Materials in English were sought, but those identified in other languages were also collected.

Target audience

The intended audience for this report and collated resources are:

  • World Bank Group staff and consultants working on NBT project design, implementation and evaluation;
  • WBG clients including governments, protected area authorities, private sector, tourism destination management organisations; and
  • Stakeholders that participated in the consultation process and who provided materials to populate the report database.


This analysis was prepared through a combination of an internet-based literature review and stakeholder consultation. The consultation included an online questionnaire (see Annex 1 for questionnaire), which received 112 responses from practitioners in the field. A list of the consultees who participated can be found in Annex 2). In all, over 360 resources were identified during this process.