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Geotourism is a significant emerging and growing global phenomenon. Geotourism is essentially sustainable and holistic nature-based tourism ‘that focuses on an area's geology and landscape as the basis for providing visitor engagement, learning and enjoyment'. Resulting from its experiential characteristics, geotourism has links with adventure tourism and ecotourism. Geotourism also embraces cultural tourism, inclusive of indigenous tourism, an approach of increasing interest to both managers of protected and unprotected areas. Under the current national Australian Geoscience Council (AGC) 2015-2020 Strategic Plan, and as a geoscience advocacy opportunity, the AGC has decided to formulate a draft National Geotourism Strategy to accommodate the orderly development of major geotourism projects (which might include geoparks) and other activities (such as geotrails) in line with overseas trends and domestic regional development imperatives.
AGC recognises that the socio-economic benefits of geopark development, both UNESCO Global and national in scope, include the following.
1. Measurable economic benefits - additional visitors, direct and regional economic output, household income and wages, and local employment.
2. Through establishment of a management entity, a higher level of centralised coordination in areas of community engagement, product development, travel and hospitality services, tourism promotion/branding.
3. Maximisation of sustainable development and management of 'over tourism’.
4. Provision of a framework for focus on the 10 UNESCO Topics that include culture, education, climate change, geoconservation, and sustainable development.
In complementing ecotourism, geotourism is now evolving to determine its place as a key driver of nature-based tourism as a regional development imperative for Australia.