Launch of Australia’s National Geotourism Strategy set to help raise profile of geosciences
The President of the Australian Geoscience Council (AGC), Professor David Cohen, has announced the release of the Council’s National Geotourism Strategy, which will promote and support further development of major geotourism projects in Australia and deliver benefits to regional tourism.
Speaking on the strategy, Professor Cohen said ‘While we have some of the most beautiful cities in the world, there are abundant natural wonders in the geology of our ancient continent that lie just beyond the end of the pavement. Some of these are in existing World Heritage Listed areas and in other georegions.’
The Strategy is being guided by a specialist reference group led by former Chair of the AGC, Dr Jon Hronsky OAM, who said, ‘Growth in geotourism offers the potential for employment opportunities in the tourism sector, including expansion of options in regional mining communities. The Council considers geotourism a very effective way of communicating the value of geoscience to the broader Australian community.’
The Council believes improving the profile of the geosciences will help attract more of Australia’s top students to become professional geoscientists and support national efforts in protection of the environment, dealing with geological hazards, and discovery of the next generation of metal deposits that will underpin growth in renewable energy and the use of smart materials.
The National Geotourism Strategy has seven strategic goals. These span pathways for identifying and implementing major geotourism projects, through to the development of digital platforms to provide information for travellers on geological features in the landscape.
The seven strategic goals
- Development of new digital technologies to highlight and interpret natural and cultural heritage, highlighting geology and landscape, for a wide spectrum of visitors.
- Define an approval pathway for major geotourism projects.
- Establish a framework for creating high quality, sustainable geotrails.
- Establish a national framework for geoheritage listings suitable for geotourism.
- Develop geotourism in regional mining communities with potential geoheritage and cultural heritage sites.
- Strengthen Australia’s international geoscience standing through geotourism excellence.
- Develop and enhance the geoscience interpretation and communication skills of everyone actively involved in the presentation of geosites, enabling the provision of accurate and thematic information in an accessible manner.
The Strategy will link three ‘geos’ – recognising Australia's geoheritage and establishing new geotrails that are suitable for various styles of geotourism.
‘It is imperative that the geoheritage of many of our iconic Australian tourism destinations, particularly in outback regions, is properly translated to new opportunities for travellers seeking unique experiences,’ Professor Cohen said. The Council is committed to seeing the standing of Australian geoscience enhanced by great geotourism offerings – a goal close to the heart of previous Council President, Dr Bill Shaw.
Professor Cohen said that, ‘The Council believes the Strategy will gain endorsement and support at all levels of government, given the success of such initiatives in other countries’ and that ‘there will be considerable economic, employment and societal benefits, in particular for regional Australia.’
About the Australian Geoscience Council
The Australian Geoscience Council Inc is the peak Council of professional geoscientists in Australia. It represents nine major Australian geoscientific societies, including AusIMM, with a combined membership of over 8000 geoscientists in industry, government, or academia in the fields of geology, geophysics, geochemistry, mineral and energy resources, environmental geoscience, hydrogeology, geomorphology, and geological hazards.