With the decision on 27 January 2015 by the Governing Council of the Geological Society of Australia (GSA) to approve a recommendation of the newly formed Geotourism Standing Committee of a definition for Geotourism (i.e. ‘Geotourism is tourism which focuses on geology and landscape as the basis for providing visitor engagement, learning, and enjoyment’), enthusiasts can be assured that geotourism is starting to establish a foothold in Australia.
Nurtured by the Geotourism Standing Committee and collaborating with the Geotourism Forum of Australia’s peak nature-based industry group, Ecotourism Australia (EA), geotourism is now being effectively represented to government by two core geotourism constituencies – within the geological professions and in the tourism industry.
Established originally in 2011, the Geotourism Sub Committee of the Standing Committee for Geological Heritage was changed by the Governing Council of the Geological Society of Australia to become the Geotourism Standing Committee. The expanded committee now comprises the following members with a wealth of experience in a wide range of geoscience endeavours.
- Angus M Robinson (Chair), Managing Partner, Leisure Solutions®
- Michael Comfort, Section Leader, Geoconservation Section, Natural and Cultural Heritage Division, Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water & Environment
- Bob Conroy, Administrator, Jenolan Caves Reserve Trust
- Professor Ross Dowling, Foundation Professor of Tourism and Associate Head, School of Business, Edith Cowan University
- A/Professor Bernie Joyce, Earth Sciences School, The University of Melbourne
- Bruce Leaver, Chairman, Sapphire Coast Tourism, NSW
- Ian Lewis, Director, Kanawinka Geopark, Victoria/South Australia
- Professor Suzanne Miller, Director and CEO of Queensland Museums
- Dr Young Ng, Chairman, Association for Geoconservation, Hong Kong
- Vicki Pow, Manager, Education and Outreach, Geoscience Australia
- Dave Robson, Associate, Leisure Solutions® (recently retired as Manager of the Regional Mapping and Exploration Geoscience Group for the NSW Geological Survey)
- David Tucker, Principal, Western River Pty Ltd
- Dr Neil Williams, University of Wollongong, Wollongong (formerly, Chief Executive Officer, Geoscience Australia)
The formation of the new Standing Committee has arrived at a time where there is now growing support internationally for geoparks as a way to conserve and promote geo-heritage, an issue which is currently being reviewed by Australian governments.
Geotourism itself continues to attract interest from both within the geological profession and from a range of government agencies.
In 2015, the new Standing Committee has plans to work closely with the Geotourism Forum of EA to encourage the development of geotourism initiatives into each of Australia’s 16 major National Landscapes which are now being co-ordinated by EA, as well as participating in the Asia-Pacific Global Eco Conference at Rottnest Island, Western Australia in November. It is worth noting that a number of these National Landscapes (e.g. Flinders Ranges, Tasmania’s Island Heritage, the Wet Tropics, Australia’s Coastal Wilderness, and the Kimberley etc) contain areas with significant mining heritage.
In addition, following the success of the Alice Springs event last year, the convening of the Sustainable Economic Growth Regional Australia (SEGRA) 2015 conference in Bathurst in October will include a geotourism workshop with the opportunity to promote the geological highlights of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area/Jenolan Caves as well as to engage with mining heritage interests in the State’s Central West, and the Hill End Historic Site managed by the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service.
Other activities include:
- Engagement with the Australian Geoscience Council, the Peak Council of geoscientists in Australia which includes the AusIMM, to include geotourism as a project development initiative.
- Conducting two planned conference (‘model’ geotours) associated with the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) International Conference in Melbourne, September 2015: Central Australia and Blue Mountains/Jenolan Caves.
- Continuing lobbying of Australian Government agencies on the regional development and job creation benefits offered by geotourism activities, now to be broadened to include briefing of those agencies engaged with regional development and infrastructure.
- Facilitation of the development of bilateral arrangements between Australia and China aimed at establishing ‘sister park’ relationships between Australian natural heritage areas and China’s Global Geoparks.
The GSA Geotourism Standing Committee will also continue to work with the Heritage Committee of the AusIMM in arranging for Illawarra coal mining heritage sites loaded onto the global network accessed by the GeoTreat smartphone application https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=se.sgu.android.geotreat&hl=en
AusIMM members interested in finding out more about the activities of the GSA Geotourism Standing Committee are invited to join the LinkedIn Discussion Group – Australian Geotourism Development and/or contact AusIMM Heritage Committee member, Angus M Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.