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Over the past 25 years in Australia, ecotourism has grown in partnership with the development of protected areas such as national parks and reserves, and much of the formal government strategic planning for the growth of nature based tourism generally has been linked to the national park system. However, within other areas of Australia where tourism is well established, ecotourism has found a well supported niche.
Preliminary work undertaken in 2017 in support of the Pre-Aspiring Etheridge UNESCO Global Geopark located in in the Gulf Savannah country Far North Queensland has identified a whole range of issues that will impact on the future of ecotourism and geotourism outside of protected areas. A number of these issues relating to community concerns about the potential impact of tourism on existing industries such as grazing and mining as well as a widespread fear of associated environmental controls has resulted in the geopark initiative being deferred by the proponent, Etheridge Shire Council. Whilst much of this concern can be linked to recent UNESCO involvement in the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree World Heritage Areas, the opposition to tourism development generally has proved an unexpected outcome, particularly as strong support for this project has been shown by other groups particularly national park managers, indigenous communities , two major ecotourism operators, the Savannah Guides Network and by township communities which are looking for new avenues for economic development.