TED Case Studies

Koala and Tourism

CASE NUMBER:            147
CASE NAME:              Koala and Tourism


1.    The Issue

The tourism industry in Australia has been growing rapidly and is
now indispensable for the Australian economy.  Both the number of
tourists and the revenue from tourism have steadily increased.  For
tourists, one of the highlights in Australia is its rich natural
resources.  It offers various sites, from inland desert to
waterfront sports.  In addition, visitors have an opportunity to
hug and have their picture taken with the nation's "Animal
Ambassador,"  the koala.  Nevertheless, koalas in Australia may
become an endangered species due to tourism and urbanization.  The
koala is such a sensitive animal that it could die of stress. 
Greeting with many tourists can cause premature death.  In
addition, Australia's eucalyptus trees, the primary diet of koalas,
have been decreasing.  Moreover, thousands of koalas are killed
each year by car accident.  Nevertheless, the protection of koalas
has not been done much, since no data about the declining numbers
of koalas or the overall number of them is available, because of no
reliable way of counting.  The Australian  government has listed
koalas as vulnerable, but not yet an endangered species under the
country's Endangered Species Act.  The government, however, should
protect koalas before it is too late.

2.    Description

In 1990-91, the tourism sector brought A$7.3 billion (US $5.5
billion) to the Australian government.   Moreover, the tourism
industry has achieved an annual growth of 43 per cent in foreign
exchange earnings.  The number of tourists has been increasing as
well.  In 1992, the total number of visitors reached 2.37 million. 
Furthermore, the Australian government is forecasting that the
number will become 4.84 million by 2000.
      The main contributor of this trend is the Asia-Pacific
countries.  For example, tourists from South Korea were swiftly
increasing, from 10,000 in 1989 to 27,000 in 1991. Likewise,
travelers from Philippines changed from 11,000 in 1989 to 16,000 in
1991, Thailand from 17,000 to 25,000, Taiwan from 21,000 to
      Japan, though the number increased slowly, still appears
Australia's largest single source of tourists.  Japanese tourists
accounted for 350,000 in 1989, 528,000 in 1991, and 720,000 in
1994.  This large number was partly because recently, Australia
has been ranked one of the most popular "honeymoon travel" sites. 
It is said that Australia has overtaken Hawaii as the destination
for newlyweds. 
      Seeing this trend, the Australian government has recently
announced a new advertising campaign for big-spending Japanese
tourists.  The government will spend A$ 100 million for the
campaign of "Country of Surprises" which targets Japanese in the
18-35 age.  Throughout the campaign, the government expects that a
number of Japanese Young Office Ladies (YOL) who visit Australia
will especially increase.  Since they are well-paid, tend to marry
late and live at home with their parents, their disposable income
is quite high.  As a result, they will be able to spend their much
income on fashion and travel.  
      What  attracts people to visit Australia?  One of the reasons
is surely its rich natural resources.  In fact, Australia has
everything that attracts tourists--from famous Ayers Rock in the
inland desert to scuba diving and bungee jumping .  Moreover, there
are a number of rare animals, such as wallabys, emus, dingos,
kangaroos and koalas. 
      Among them, koalas have become the most popular.  It is widely
recognized in Australia that the koala plays an important role as
"Animal Ambassador" and is a marketing symbol for the tourism
      For instance, two koalas first came from Australia to Japan in
1983.  Since then, 19 koalas have been exported from Australia. 
Now the number of koalas in Japanese zoos has increased to 77, and
58 of them were born in Japan.  In 1993, on the 10 th anniversary
of a koala export program from Australia to Japan, some koalas born
and raised in Higashiyama Zoo, Nagoya city, even exported to
Australia as a goodwill gesture. 
      Within Australia, koalas are often the main "bread earner", as
in the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane.  This presence offers
tourists a chance to hug a koala for five minutes and to take a
picture with it by paying only five Australian dollars.  The
sanctuary has a service which sends the picture to the visitors'
home country.  Since the number of koalas available each day is
limited, visitors run to the pavilion and line up in a "Disneyland-
style" queue.
      Koalas are big business in Australia.  However, koalas in
Australia may be on the verge of becoming an endangered species due
to tourism and urbanization.  Today, koalas are found only in a
particular area, southeast Australia.  The nonprofit Australian
Koala Foundation (AKF) has reported that 80 per cent of the Koala's
natural habitat has been destroyed.  The increase in number of
hotels and beach front resorts much contributed to this result. 
Moreover, the number of koalas has been decreasing.  Once koalas
come down from trees, they face risks, such as being hit by cars,
killed by pet dogs, and drowned in swimming pools.  Every year,
11,000 koalas are estimated to be killed by cars.
      In addition, eucalyptus trees, whose leaves koalas totally
depend upon for food, have been decreasing.  In the past 200
years, a third of Australia's eucalyptus forests have disappeared,
giving way to farming, logging, grazing and urban expansion.  Thus,
koalas have to travel further in search for their food.  Some died
during the journey and others starved to death. 
      Furthermore, koalas' sensitiveness to the external environment
cause them to die easily.  The slightest stress can prevent them
from eating or lead them to suffer disease.  Therefore, the hugging
and photo opportunities to visitors should be better regulated. 
Yet, the national regulation for koala cuddling will take more
time, since policy on koala handling is left to each state
      The first and only state that has recently launched the ban on
koala hugging is the eastern state of New South Wales.  The state
is said to be Australia's most popular state with tourists.  Yet,
it will ban koala hugging in zoos and wildlife parks from January
1997.  Tourists will only be allowed to pat koalas on their perch. 
Nevertheless, worried about the negative effect on the tourism
industry, the Tourism Council Australia is pressuring the state
government to change its mind.  The council says that there has
already been a whole number of tours canceled. 
      While movements towards saving koalas seem to be improving,
the Australian national government is slow in taking steps to
protect the nation's "Animal Ambassador."  In Australia, the koala
is listed as vulnerable but not yet endangered species under the
country's Endangered Species Act, which took effect in 1993.  This
is because there exists no accurate data about either the number of
koalas declined or even the entire population of koalas in the
country.  That is, a way of counting koalas has not been
established yet due to the animal's solitary ways and camouflage
coloring.  Therefore, researchers have deduced the koalas' presence
by scratch on tree trunks and droppings on the ground.  Lacking a
reliable way of counting, it is difficult to determine how urgent
koala protection is.  hence, the Australian government is not
moving quickly to protect the koala habitat while maintaining
tourist revenues. 
      Nevertheless, as AKF pointed out, by the time koala is listed
as an endangered species, it may be too late to save it.  Thus, the
government is encouraged to protect koalas even if the overall
number of koalas in Australia has not been determined.

3.    Related Cases

 BEAR Case
 Barrier Case

      Keyword Clusters
      (1):Trade Product                    =  Koala Bear
      (2):Bio-geography                    =  TEMPerate
      (3):Environmental Problem            =  SPECIES LOSS LAND
4.    Draft Author:  Yoko Fujiki

B.    LEGAL Clusters

5.    Discourse and Status:         DIS and ALLEGE

      Economic incentives have prevented major legal action from
being taken on behalf         of the koalas, although advocacy movements
to protect the species exist.

6.    Forum and Scope:  state and UNILAT

      A regulation prohibiting the cuddling of koalas has not been
established at the      national level.  However, at the state level,
New South Wales will introduce a ban             for hugging koalas in

7.    Decision Breath:   2+ (Australia and Japan) 
      Because of the ban in the state of New South Wales, the
Tourism Council of      Australia dismays the decrease of tourists,
especially those from Japan, since their               contribution to
Australia's revenue is enormous.  The Council, is urging the state
      government to change its mind.

8.    Legal Standing:  SUBLAW  and NGO

      The eastern state of new South Wales, which is said to be the
most popular state      with tourists, will ban cuddling koalas in
1997.  A non-profit organization, the            Australian koala
Foundation, is supporting the state's ban.

C.    GEOGRAPHIC Clusters

9.    Geographic Locations

      a.Geographic Domain     :   East Australia
      b.Geographic Site       :   East Australia
      c.Geographic Impact     :   East Australia
10.   Sub-National Factors:   Yes  

      The New South Wales' ban on hugging koalas may have large
impact on the     tourism industry in Australia.  If more states
follow the ban in the future, its impact               on the entire
Australian tourism economy may not be neglectable. 

11.   Type of Habitat:        TEMP

D.    TRADE Clusters

12.   Type of Measure:        Export Standard

      The Australian government carefully limits the number of
koalas exported.  In          addition, it requires a recipient country
to have a strict and stable environment for            koalas. 

13.   Direct vs. Indirect Impacts:         DIR

      The ban for cuddling koalas will give serious damage to the
Australian tourism      industry.  The more protection for koalas is
emphasized, the more difficult it will           be for the government to
earn revenue from the tourism industry. 

14.   Relation of Measure to Environmental Impact
      a.Directly Related      :     Yes   koala, tourism
      b.Indirectly Related          :      No
      c.Not Related           :     No
      d.Process Related       :     No
15.   Trade Product Identification:   SERVICE 

16.   Economic Data:    US$ 5 billion 

17.   Impact of Measure on Trade Competitiveness:   No  

18.   Industry Sector:   TOUR  

19.   Exporter and Importer:

            exporter:   Japan
                        importer:   Australia
      In 1994, 720,000 Japanese visited Australia.  Owing to a
strong yen, the number is expected to increase.  The Australian
government, on the other hand, has announced a A$ 100 million new
advertising campaign which targets Japanese of younger age.  

E.    ENVIRONMENT Clusters

20.   Environmental Problem Type:  SPILL

      The accurate number of Australia's wild koalas is open to
discussion.  Nevertheless, it is said that the number has dropped
from 400,000 in 1986 to between 40,000 and 80,000 because of
destruction of eucalyptus forests.

21.   Name, Type, and Diversity of Species

            Name:             Koala bear
            Type:             NA
            Diversity:        NA
22.   Impact and Effect:  Product and Scale

23.   Urgency and Lifetime:  Medium and about 10 years  

24.   Substitutes:      CONSV  

      "Save the Koala" movement has been taken place both at the
domestic and international levels.  The state of Queensland has
announced that it will spend A$ 1 million to buy land in order to
protect koalas.  It is part of a 38 million dollar koala protection
      A Japanese oil company, on the other hand, donated A$ 700,000
(US$ 530,000)     to an Australian koala conservation group in January
1995.  The company, All       Japan Esso-Kai, asked Japanese motorists
to leave donations at its gas stations in              Japan.  According to
the conservation group, the money will be utilized to map the                  
koala's habitat nationwide. 

VI.   OTHER Factors

25.   Culture:    No  

26.   Trans-Border:     No 

27.   Rights:     No 

28.   Relevant Literature  

"Australia Launches 100-Million-Dollar Tourism Promotion." Jiji
Press Ticker Service, (27 September 1995).  

"Australian State to Slap Ban on Cuddling Koalas." Reuters North
American Wire, (15 September 1995.
"Australian Tourism's Biggest Market Flattening Out." Reuters, (18
October 1995). 

Daytoon, Leigh, "Can Koala Bear The Twentieth Century?" New
Scientist, (22 September 1990) : 43-45. 

Ewing, Tania. "Koala Researcher Faces Charges." Nature, v. 341 (21
September 1989) : 178. 

"Japanese Firm Makes Big Donation to Help Koala." Reuters World
Service, (23 January 1995).  

"Japanese Koala Emigrates to Australia." Japan Economic Newswire,
(17 December 1993).  

Knowles, Ron. "The New Asian Onslaught." Far Eastern Economic
Review (9 April 1992) : 44-45.  

Melinkoff, Ellen. "Unsentimental Traveler Melts in Arms of koala."
Los Angels Times, (19 January 1992).  

Norris, Carina. "Please Don't Cuddle The Koalas." New Scientist,
(30 April 1994) : 50-51. 

Perry, Tony. "In Danger Down Under." Los Angels Times, (25 December

"Queensland Government Starts Buying Land for Koalas." Japan
Economic Newswire, (14 December 1994).  

"World Wire: Tunnel to Protect Koalas." Wall Street Journal, (17
August 1994). 

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