Driving Australia’s National Geotourism Strategy through the AGC

Robinson, Angus MFAusIMM (CP)

1 Coordinator, Australian Geoscience Council Inc, Carlton South, Australia

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.  

The NGS will be based on a number of strategic goals based on the following themes.

  1. Consideration of new digital technologies (e.g. delivered through smartphones and in visitor interpretation centres – 3D visualisation, AR & VR) as a cost-effective means of accessing and better communicating and interpreting content for travellers.
  2. Consideration of establishing a national set of administrative procedures for ‘georegional’ assessment to provide for potential geopark nomination at state and national levels, and as approved by governments, at a UNESCO Global Geopark level.
  3. Compilation from existing sources, including the various state-based geoheritage inventories, of a national register of geosites that are suitable for promotion as geotourism sites.
  4. New geotrail development – local, regional and national engagement to open up dialogue with existing walking, biking and rail trail interest groups and operators to highlight the availability of quality natural heritage data.
  5. Mechanisms for developing mechanisms for collaboration with providers of other areas of natural (bioregion) and cultural heritage content, inclusive of mining and resource industry heritage (e.g. mining companies, geological and mining museums, historical societies, as well as specialist groups with interests in flora and fauna etc. has been identified as an opportunity for the Australian mining industry.
  6. Strengthening Australia’s international geoscience standing through geotourism excellence.
  7. Professional development opportunities for geoscientists wishing to develop content interpretation and tour guiding skills for enhanced interaction with the public, and engagement with the Savannah Guides and the professional group Interpretation Australia.

Biography

An exploration geologist by profession, Angus commenced a mining industry career in 1969.  After the past 25 years working in technology and industry development executive roles, and earlier in the 1980s with the NSW Department of Mineral Resources, he has been actively championing geotourism and ecotourism over the past decade.

About the GSA

The Geological Society of Australia was established as a non-profit organisation in 1952 to promote, advance and support Earth sciences in Australia.

As a broadly based professional society that aims to represent all Earth Science disciplines, the GSA attracts a wide diversity of members working in a similarly broad range of industries.

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