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Driving Australia’s National Geotourism Strategy through the AGC



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The Australian Geoscience Council Inc (AGC) has set up a National Geotourism Strategy Reference Group (NGSRG) which includes representatives of other key active stakeholders (e.g. the Geotourism Standing Committee of the Geological Society of Australia), and under the guidance of this reference group, other key stakeholder groups will be best placed to help deliver different parts of a National Geotourism Strategy (NGS).
This NGS is being designed to support the orderly development of major geotourism projects and activities in line with overseas trends and domestic regional development imperatives. The AGC sees the articulation of a strategy with a staged and incremental approach as being essential to ultimately gain government endorsement at all levels. The development of a National Ecotourism Strategy in 1994 and subsequent state/territory-based initiatives is considered as a particularly useful precedent and guide. Of significance internationally is the development of geotourism in Australia that lags many countries’ approach, notwithstanding the fact Australia has taken the initiatives in several areas in development of the concepts underpinning geotourism.
The pursuit of geotourism offers the potential for new industries and employment opportunities through the development of major projects within Australia. Also, very significantly from a strategic perspective, the AGC recognises that the development of geotourism may be one of the best ways to communicate the value of geoscience to the broader Australian community. The AGC considers that this improved profile for geoscience is likely to have a positive impact in other areas of strategic importance, most notably the need for continuing tertiary enrolments in geoscience, which is required to meet Australia’s needs for highly qualified geoscience graduates and researchers into the future.

Driving Australia’s National Geotourism Strategy through the AGC

  1. 1. ‘Driving Australia’s National Geotourism Strategy through the AGC’ AESC, 10 February 2021 Angus M Robinson, Coordinator National Geotourism Strategy, Australian Geoscience Council
  2. 2. Today’s Agenda  Ecotourism and Geotourism The National Geotourism Strategy The Seven Strategic Goals  Goal 3: Establishing a framework for creating high quality, sustainable geotrails Take-Aways
  3. 3. Ecotourism & Geotourism Concepts  Ecotourism is practised predominantly in protected areas such as national parks whereas geotourism is undertaken also in all areas where primary industry activities are being carried out.  Geotourism is increasingly seen globally as an instrument of regional economic development.
  4. 4. Geotourism  comprises the following features of both natural and cultural heritage:  Abiotic – non-living aspects such as the sky, climate & geology, landscape and landforms: celebrating GEODIVERSITY.  Biotic – the living parts eg. fauna (animals) and flora (plants): celebrating BIODIVERSITY.  Cultural – past & present, Aboriginal and post European settlement, non-living and built: celebrating HUMAN DIVERSITY.  Holistic in scope, geotourism is booming globally and a key driver for tourism, particularly in Europe and Asia.
  5. 5. Fundamentals of Geotourism Geotourism is not 'geological tourism’ Geotourism is rather ‘place based’
  6. 6. Societal Benefits of Geotourism Defining a GeoRegion  By celebrating the geological heritage of an identified GeoRegion, and in connection with all other aspects of the area’s natural and cultural heritage (and most significantly, indigenous heritage), geotourism enhances awareness and understanding of key issues facing society.  Geotourism gives local people a sense of pride and strengthens their identification with a GeoRegion.
  7. 7. Geotourism Delivery Mechanisms 1. Geosites & Mining Heritage Sites. 2. Geological Time Walks & Rock Gardens 3. Geotrails. 4. Geoparks - both national and UNESCO global. 5. Mining Parks e.g. as in China Geological Time Walk Geoscience Australia, Canberra
  8. 8. AGC National Geotourism Strategy Principles  United national voice for geotourism development.  Working with a large specialist reference group.  Working closely with government agencies at all levels to gain their support and endorsement.  Reaching out to other natural and cultural heritage specialists.  Engaging with local communities.
  9. 9. National Geotourism Strategic Goals 1. Consideration of new digital technologies e.g. 3D visualisation, AR & VR etc. 2. To define an approval pathway for major geotourism projects. 3. To establish a framework for creating high quality, sustainable geotrails. 4. To establish a national listing for geoheritage sites suitable for geotourism. 5. To develop geotourism in regional mining communities with potential geoheritage and cultural heritage sites. 6. To strengthen Australia's international geoscience standing through geotourism excellence. 7. To develop and enhance geoscience interpretation and communication skills for natural and cultural heritage professionals engaged in geotourism.
  10. 10. National Geotourism Strategic Goal #3 To establish a framework for creating high quality sustainable geotrails  Individual geological surveys from the States and Territories be invited to engage, on an ‘as needs’ basis, and in collaboration with natural/cultural interest groups as well as with state/territory divisions and branches of the interested professional societies.  And to review the suitability of existing roads, bushwalks, biking and rail trails as potential geotrails.
  11. 11. Exemplar: Port Macquarie Coastal Geotrail, NSW "The collaborative geotrail project has been led by the University of Newcastle (A) & supported by Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, the Geological Survey of NSW (A), NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (B) & Birpai Local Aboriginal Land Council (C). Supported by a brochure, website & smartphone app, the Port Macquarie Coastal Geotrail is a four kilometre walk from Shelly Beach to Rocky Beach that tells the story of plate tectonics & how the Earth’s crust was formed along the stretch of coastline over the past 460 million years".
  12. 12. Best Practice Geotrails  Should be constructed around routes currently used by tourists; geotrails should form logical journeys linking accommodation destinations.  Should meld the geological heritage features of a region with a cohesive STORY.  Should incorporate and package in the biodiversity and cultural components (including mining heritage) of the region through which the geotrail traverses.
  13. 13. Take-Aways  The National Geotourism Strategic Goals have clear outcomes, targets which are measured annually.  It is hoped that the Strategy will emerge as the default policy position for Australian governments for national geotourism development.  The emergence nationally of geotrails in identified GeoRegions is a clear priority which serve to promote the value and benefits of geotourism and lead to the community and government support of geoparks.
  14. 14. Contact Details Angus M Robinson FAusIMM (CP) Tel: 0418 488 340 Information about Australian Geotourism and Geopark Development Activities Australian Geoscience Council