Geotourism is a significant emerging and growing global phenomenon. Geotourism has now been defined in Australia as ‘tourism which focuses on an area’s geology and landscape as the basis for providing visitor engagement, learning and enjoyment’. It has links with adventure tourism, cultural tourism and ecotourism, but is not synonymous with any of these forms of tourism, although in broad terms it actually embraces them all.
In summary, geotourism
- adds considerable content value to traditional nature-based tourism (the primary motivator of travel to Australia) as well as cultural tourism, inclusive of indigenous tourism, thus completing the holistic embrace of ‘A’ (abiotic –landscape and geology) plus ‘B’ (biotic) plus ‘C’ (culture) aspects. It empathises an approach of increasing interest to protected area managers, particularly given the experience gained from the now discontinued Australian National Landscape programme;
- celebrates geoheritage and promotes awareness of and better understanding of the geosciences and natural and cultural heritage generally;
- contributes to regional development imperatives in areas experiencing social and economic difficulties through increased tourist visitation, particularly from overseas – of increasing interest to local government authorities and state based, regional development commissions and agencies;
- creates professional and career development for geoscientists and other natural and cultural heritage specialists;
- provides a means of highlighting and promoting public interest in mining heritage;
- provides the means of increasing public access to geological information through a range of new information and communication technology (ICT) applications e.g. smartphones, 3D visualisation etc. – of increasing interest to visitor information centres; and
- engenders an increasing awareness of the importance in geology as a fundamental science that has had and will continue to have major impacts on civilisations.
Geotourism promotes tourism through visits to geological features (geosites), use of ‘geotrails’ and viewpoints, guided tours, geo-activities (such as geological time trails, fossil walks, rock gardens etc.), and patronage of visitor centres and museums. Geotourism attractions are now being developed around the world primarily as a sustainable development tool for the development of local and regional communities. A major vehicle for such development, yet to be realised in Australia, is through the concept of geoparks as exemplified by the UNESCO Global Geopark program. A geopark is a unified area with geological heritage of outstanding significance and where that heritage is being used to promote the sustainable development of the local communities who live there.
It is now considered that the creation and implementation of a draft national geotourism strategy will provide the means of ensuring an orderly development of geotourism on the basis of having first gained government support and endorsement, recognising that each state and territory has individual needs and priorities.
This strategy will be discussed at SEGRA 2019 to be held at Barooga, NSW on Wednesday 21 August https://segra.com.au/perch/resources/segra-2019-printable-program.pdf
12th August 2019
Proposed National Geotourism Strategy and Mining Heritage
The Australian Geoscience Council (AGC), which is the Peak Council of geoscientists in Australia representing eight major Australian geoscientific societies with a total membership of over 8,000 individuals, is currently consulting with state/territory government agencies with the aim of developing a national strategy predicated on consideration of a number of broad topics which include identifying mechanisms for collaboration with providers of other areas of natural (bioregion) and cultural heritage content, inclusive of mining heritage. Through the auspices particularly of the Heritage Committee of the AusIMM (an AGC member), it has been recognised that much of Australia’s rich mining heritage, including many outstanding mineral collections, has not been adequately integrated into tourism product development.
Other topics under consideration include geotourism as a means of celebrating and better coordination nationally of geoheritage data bases, establishing a national set of administrative procedures for ‘georegional’ assessment to provide for potential geopark nomination, new geotrail development, and using geotourism to strengthen Australia’s international geoscience standing and enhance its influence for the long term benefits of Australian geoscientists.
13th August, 2019