Published on : Saturday, March 18, 2017
Western Australia’s tourism association is of the opinion that rising pressure on the local environment needs a practical approach from all agencies and community groups. With the release of the Margaret River-Busselton Tourism Association’s nature-based tourism strategy last week, there have been long-running calls from residents and operators about the association to focus on marketing the region’s natural attractions in place of historic promotions based on ‘gimmicks’.
This new strategy’s aim to increase visitor numbers and spending, according to critics, puts the MRBTA at odds with the strategy’s third goal – preserving the region’s drawcard natural environment. According to MRBTA chief executive Pip Close, possibilities from strategy would help the tourism group focus on real outcomes and not just marketing the assets of the region. To quote Close, “The nature-based tourism strategy highlights a number of opportunities that MRBTA is excited about investigating with its partners.”
Options include seeking eco-accreditation for MRBTA operators and sites, developing a local botanic garden, seeking UNESCO world heritage status, and developing “voluntourism” products and “a voluntary visitor payback scheme.”
To quote Close again, “This is a starting point and not intended to be an exhaustive or definitive list of all the initiatives that might be pursued under the strategy. We very much see opportunities unfolding as we work alongside our partners to meet the strategy’s objectives. Education and awareness is at the heart of the strategy and many of the proposed initiatives because engendering action will be very difficult without a solid understanding of why our environment is so special.”