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Comparisons of Geotourism in China and Australia


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A presentation to Government Officials of Guizhou Province, Guiyang, 26th September 2017

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Comparisons of Geotourism in China and Australia

  1. 1. “Geotourism - Australia and China 26 September 2017 Angus M Robinson FAusIMM (CP) Chair, GSA Geotourism Standing Committee
  2. 2. (Luo Anshi) Angus M Robinson  A mining exploration geologist by profession.  Currently Managing Partner, Leisure Solutions® joining Ecotourism Australia in 1993, and since 2009, has been developing eco-certified, self-drive tours.  Prior to 2007, he worked for 20 years in technology and ICT industry development executive roles. In earlier years he has enjoyed roles as the Commercial Director at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo and previously as a Mining Museum Director.  Since 2011, also inaugural/current Chairman of the Geotourism Standing Committee of the Geological Society of Australia.
  4. 4. Melbourne Sydney Brisbane Jenolan Caves Jenolan Caves, Blue Mountains WHA
  5. 5. Jenolan Caves
  6. 6. Zhijindong Cave
  7. 7. Jenolan Caves
  8. 8. Zhijindong Cave
  9. 9. Societal Differences – Australia and China  Chinese governments celebrate and funds geological heritage.  Since the early 1970s and through national park creation and development, Australian Governments and Australians generally have had a much higher level of interest in celebrating biodiversity.  Ironically whilst Australia’s standard of living is derived from mining, geological focus has been solely directly on exploration and mining activities, and not on geotourism.  Up until recently, the Australian geological profession has also had little or no interest in geotourism.  Indigenous cultural heritage particularly for tourism has been very under-developed in Australia.
  10. 10. Addressing The Geopark ‘Impasse’ in Australia 2011 to Present 1. Establishment by the GSA of the Geotourism Standing Committee, defining geotourism. 2. We gained the support of other key geoscience professional associations and consulted widely with state government geological surveys. 3. We commenced dialogue with various key government agencies. 4. We organised geotourism workshops at various regional development and ecotourism conferences. 5. We championed Australian National Landscapes.
  11. 11. Environment, Natural & Cultural Heritage comprises the following: 1. Abiotic – non-living aspects such as the climate & geology e.g. landscape and landforms: GEODIVERSITY 2. Biotic – the living parts eg. fauna (animals) and flora (plants): BIODIVERSITY 3. Cultural – past & present, non-living & built Parts B+C are well interpreted within tourism, especially through ecotourism and cultural tourism, but A has typically not been well addressed in Australia. Source: Dowling, 2013
  12. 12. Geotourism Definition adopted by the Geological Society of Australia Recognising that interpretation outcomes in Australian national parks had largely ignored geoheritage elements of national heritage, the GSA set about addressing this deficiency with the following definition. ‘Geotourism is tourism which focuses on an area's geology and landscape as the basis for providing visitor engagement, learning and enjoyment’.
  13. 13. Governance Model and Tourism in Australia 1. Australian Government – markets tourism globally and is principal point of contact with UNESCO. Australian Government does not fund geopark development. 2. Eight State and Territory Governments – responsible for all land use management (including mineral resources) and planning, including tourism and national park development, funding and marketing. 3. Local Government (Shire Councils) – controlled by State Governments – provide most community services and tourism information, but with limited funding.
  14. 14. Australia’s National Landscapes Programme Partnership between tourism and conservation that aims to:  Promote world class, high quality visitor experiences  Increase the value of tourism to regional economies  Enhance the role of protected areas in those economies  Build support for protecting our natural and cultural assets  Engage local communities A long term strategic approach ‘To differentiate Australia’s iconic natural and cultural destinations from anything else available in the world’
  15. 15. Australia’s 16 National Landscapes – ‘Scenic Areas’
  16. 16. Iconic ‘Continental’ National Landscapes
  17. 17. Alice Springs Uluru Red Centre, NT
  18. 18. Iconic Geotourism Themes of the ‘Red Centre’ National Landscape (Scenic Area)  A: Landforms and ancient geology  B: Red Kangaroo species, and other flora/fauna  C: Indigenous (and European) culture
  19. 19. Why Geotrails? 1. Relates directly to the tourism experience of a journey linking destinations. 2. In Australia, unlike geoparks, geotrails have widespread appeal, and do not compete with or impact on land management/access issues. 3. Geotrails are relatively easy to establish and represent a very cost effective means of enhancing regional development.
  20. 20. Best Practice Geotrails 1. Should be constructed around routes currently used by tourists; geotrails should form logical journeys linking accommodation destinations. 2. Should meld the geological heritage features of a region with a cohesive STORY. 3. Should incorporate and package in the biodiversity and cultural components (including mining heritage) of the region through which the geotrail traverses.
  21. 21. Island of Tasmania
  22. 22. Island of Tasmania
  23. 23. Island of Tasmania
  24. 24. Island of Tasmania
  25. 25. Island of Tasmania
  26. 26. Island of Tasmania
  27. 27. Island of Tasmania
  28. 28. Immersed in the landscape & geology – Tianzhushan Global Geopark The Coastal Waterways of the Hong Kong Global Geopark
  29. 29. ‘Iconic Species’ Australia has the ‘Big Red’ Kangaroo, not only the Koala! And Guizhou Province has the Golden Monkey, not only the Giant Panda!
  30. 30. Flinders Ranges National Landscape Brachina Gorge Geological Trail and Bunyeroo Valley
  31. 31. Flinders Ranges National Park Brachina Gorge – self-guided geological trail - (The Ediacaran Fossils) Adelaide Flinders Ranges NP 43
  32. 32. Flinders Ranges National Landscape
  33. 33. Geological Similarities and Differences Australia and China  By and large, both Australian and Chinese landscapes are ancient and eroded.  Where outcrop is exposed and elevated, the resultant ranges or mountains are regarded as ‘Scenic Areas’.  Eastern Australia is highlighted by the Great Dividing Range, to the west of which erosion is severe with development of a deep regolith.  Glaciation in Australia is very limited in extent and impact.  The majority of Australian landscape locations visited by tourists are sedimentary sequences and volcanic terrains, and outcropping Karst landscapes are very limited in area.
  34. 34. Iconic Fossil Sites, Australia  Ediacaran Fauna – Flinders Ranges Australian National Landscape (ANL) and WHA Application  Dinosaurs # – Western Queensland, Great Ocean Road ANL, Victoria and (footprints) within The Kimberley ANL– Western Australia  Devonian Fish # – Canowindra, New South Wales  Stromatolites – Ningaloo-Shark Bay Australian National Landscape # in common with China
  35. 35. Iconic Fossil Sites – Ediacaran & Keichousaurus
  36. 36. Tianzhushan Global Geopark, Anhui Province
  37. 37. Immersed in the landscape & geology – Tianzhushan Global Geopark
  38. 38. Immersive Guizhou Province Karst Landforms Truly Unique in the World!
  39. 39. The Proposed Savannah Way Geotrail linked to the ‘Defacto’ Geopark in the State of Queensland
  40. 40. Etheridge ‘Defacto’ Geopark, Queensland Comprising the entire Shire of Etheridge, and including areas of outstanding volcanic and mining heritage - some 40,000 sq km in area. Embracing 1.7 billion years of geological history. Only 950 people, mainly cattle farmers.
  41. 41. .
  42. 42. Kalkani Cone, Undara
  43. 43. Undara Lava Tubes
  44. 44.  State of New South Wales: GeoTreat supported ‘GeoJourney’ in the Australian Coastal Wilderness National Landscape.  State of Victoria: Volcano Discovery Trail (Kanawinka related).  State of Western Australia: Various geotrail project proposals (e.g. Murchison, Coolgardie) and potential ‘geopark concept’ opportunities  State of SouthAustralia: is not actively progressing any geopark potential projects, but is very keen to support the development of geotrails and geotourism through exceptional geological heritage, especially through Kangaroo Island and the Flinders Ranges National Landscapes.  State of Tasmania: West Coast ‘Living Earth’ – CradleCoast GeoTrail.  Northern Territory: Potential Geotrails (Red Centre, Savannah Way).
  45. 45.  State of New South Wales: GeoTreat supported ‘GeoJourney’ in the Australian Coastal Wilderness National Landscape.  State of Victoria: Volcano Discovery Trail (Kanawinka related).  State of Western Australia: Various geotrail project proposals (e.g. Murchison, Coolgardie) and potential ‘geopark concept’ opportunities  State of SouthAustralia: is not actively progressing any geopark potential projects, but is very keen to support the development of geotrails and geotourism through exceptional geological heritage, especially through Kangaroo Island and the Flinders Ranges National Landscapes.  State of Tasmania: West Coast ‘Living Earth’ – CradleCoast GeoTrail.  Northern Territory: Potential Geotrails (Red Centre, Savannah Way).
  46. 46. Tallaroo Hot Springs – Ewamian Aboriginal Corporation
  47. 47. TerrEstrial Museum and Global Peace Monument
  48. 48. Etheridge Scenic Area – A ‘Defacto’ Geopark  Geosites – In abundance, with Undara as a global icon.  Geo villages – Four small townships, all with community engaged geosites (including agate, sapphire and gold fields); key established ecotourism resorts of Undara & Cobbold Gorge.  Geotrails – The Savannah Way (Lava tubes, Gems and Gorges Trail) with connections to nearby mining heritage locations.  National Parks – Undara Volcanic Park & six other park areas.  TerrEstrial Mineral/Fossil Museum– Most significant mineral museum in Qld.  Many heritage mining sites & small gold mining operations underscores Etheridge’s status of one Australia’s most diversified mineralised areas.
  49. 49. Assessment Process – Etheridge Project 1. Appointment of Steering Committee and Geoscience & Mineral Heritage Reference Group. 2. Consultation with all key stakeholders (e.g. indigenous communities, national parks, tourism resorts) undertaking individual self- assessments. 3. Consultation with key State Government agencies. 4. Community consultation – information bulletins, public meetings involving Shire Councillors. A relatively short 12 month period allowed for the assessment and application completion process.
  50. 50. Community Raised Issues – Etheridge Project 1. National Parks, indigenous groups, and residents of townships are very supportive, because they understand the economic benefits of tourism. 2. However, agricultural, small scale mining groups & gemstone fossickers not supportive with a vigorous program implemented to dissuade Council from finalising the application because a Global Geopark upsets the status quo! 3. Issues raised were essentially fears of UNESCO control, more environmental regulation and increased levels of tourism. 4. The labels of UNESCO, GEOPARK, Ecotourism etc raised a range of concerns and fears.
  51. 51. An Alternative Strategy for the Etheridge ‘Defacto Geopark’  Council has now approved the development of an alternative major geotourism initiative which captures the aspirations of a pre-existing tourism strategy, providing additional natural and cultural heritage content.  Through collaboration with other local government areas, the establishment of strong geotrail linkages with geotourism attractions outside of the Shire.  Engaging graziers in geotourism pilot projects.
  52. 52. Barriers to Geopark Development in Australia  More focus needs to be applied to communicating the ‘georegional’ nature of geoparks.  More work is needed to overcome perceived fears about the detrimental impact of geoparks on other existing land users such as miners and farmers.  Geopark proposals must be supported by Geological Survey communities.  More time must be allowed to gain community engagement/support to ensure geopark sustainability.
  53. 53. Cultural Differences – Australia and China  Whilst indigenous peoples have occupied Australia for some 70,000 years, they are currently a minority group whose culture is overshadowed by European/UK culture which has dominated since 1770 .  Whilst indigenous peoples have a strong cultural and spiritual association with their country (including landscapes and biodiversity),mainstream Australians have little or no spiritual associations, and do not interpret landscapes and rocks from this same perspective.  In China, with a 5,000+ years of history & cultural development (inc. landscape artists, poets & writers), Chinese people seem keen to desire to learn about their cultural roots.
  54. 54. Australia-China Memorandum of Cooperation The GSA and the Geological Society of China Executed June 2016  The Australia-China relationship is becoming more important with the increasing level of economic, social and cultural activities in the coming decades.  The Memorandum of Cooperation will be focused on growing and enhancing best practice nature-based tourism (i.e. geotourism) in both countries.  Tourism park managers could play a significant role in establishing ‘sister’ relationships between parks, as a key driver of future geotourism.  Already new opportunities identified!
  55. 55. Melbourne Sydney Brisbane Cairns Far North Queensland – ‘Wet Tropics’ Scenic Area, has world famous Daintree World Heritage Area & next door to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area Etheridge Geopark
  56. 56. Proposed Guizhou Province and Far North Queensland Region Collaboration  With its sub tropical climate, elevated plateau areas and mountains, Far NQ is an ideal partner for Guizhou Province.  Both Guizhou & Far NQ - ‘green tourism’ exemplars  Propose Sister City relationship - Xingyi & Cairns.  Propose high level delegation to Guizgou Province by Council of Far NQ Mayors in 2018/2019.  Tourism Promotion Agencies and Industry Groups from Australia and China to drive collaboration.  Major opportunities then for geotourism collaboration!
  57. 57. Take-Aways  Regional development imperatives (growth and jobs) are now driving geotourism initiatives in Australia.  Creating geotrails is arguably the easiest way of providing early pathways and support from governments for geotourism activities in Australia.  Successful roll-out of geotrails will instill confidence in geotourism, providing a future pathway to geopark establishment and development in Australia.  State and Local Government inspired and backed geopark/geotrail initiatives are now emerging.
  58. 58. Contact Details 0418 488 340 GSA Geotourism Portal: