Utilization potential of alien plants in nature-based tourism sites: a case study on Agave americana (century plant) in the Ogasawara Islands.
Introduction of alien species is a severe problem in nature-based tourism sites, particularly in islands. However, majority of alien species does not show severe invasive characteristics. Many alien species originate from ornamental species preferred by the general public. Therefore, using these alien species that do not exhibit high invasiveness as tourism resources may be practical in nature-based tourism sites. We evaluated invasiveness using Species Distribution Models and attractiveness for visitors using questionnaire surveys on Agave americana, an alien plant with high ornamental value in Chichijima, Ogasawara Islands, Japan. The Ogasawara Islands are oceanic islands with important tourism value that are also vulnerable to alien invasive species. Our results showed A. americana was distributed in relatively low conservation value where many visitors enjoyed tourist landscape pictures with the species. Therefore, A. americana showed relatively low invasiveness and was preferred by visitors, which are ideal conditions for their use as tourism resources. However, visitor preference of plant species was strongly influenced by their perceptions. Visitors did not prefer alien invasive species, but also could not identify which plant species were alien invasive. When using alien species as a tourism resource, supporting identification of problematic invasive species is required.