Supporting the development of new nature-based tourism enterprises in the South West was the aim of a unique workshop in Busselton last week for 30 tourism and Landcare professionals.
Nature-based tourism is distinguished from other tourism forms by its natural area setting and includes a range of tourism experiences such as adventure tourism, ecotourism, and aspects of Aboriginal cultural and rural tourism.
Hosted by the South West Catchments Council (SWCC) at the Busselton Visitor Centre, the workshop saw representatives from Tourism WA; Australia’s South West; Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions; Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association; West Australian Indigenous Tour Operators Council; Forum Advocating Cultural and Ecotourism; and Business South West explore tourism business cases with seven local Landcare and Natural Resource Management (NRM) organisations.
SWCC chief executive Damien Postma said the workshop demonstrated how Landcare and NRM could contribute to tourism and in return, how tourism could help sustain Landcare and NRM beyond existing grant funding.
Mr Postma said the workshop was delivered as part of SWCC’s Nature-based Tourism Development and Capacity Building Project funded by the State Government and Royalties for Regions. SWCC has also engaged tourism consultant David Duncanson of Kirkgate Consulting to assist local organisations with business development.
“Tourism is at its best when local, passionate and knowledgeable people have the opportunity to show off their part of the world, tell a story about why it is important, unique and valuable – why they love it,” he explained.
“The people of Landcare live and breathe this, so for us nature-based tourism is a perfect match.”
Australia’s South West chief executive Catrin Allsop said the workshop was an excellent opportunity to collaborate with the Landcare sector to inspire and help shape new nature-based tourism products for visitors to the South West region.
“By working with the Landcare sector, we aim to build its capacity to deliver more sustainable, nature-based tourism that will showcase the region’s natural wonders and culture,” Ms Allsop said.
Leschenault Catchment Council (LCC) communications manager Sharon Upston said it was able to develop its business concept further by having one-on-one consultations with a wide range of tourism professionals.
“The professionals provided frank and honest advice about our ecotourism concept which was immensely useful. LCC is keen to develop a business that allows us to share our passion for the environment with local families, nature enthusiasts and visitors,” Mrs Upston revealed.
Other organisations exploring or developing nature-based tourism enterprises include the Blackwood Basin Group, Warren Catchments Council, Dumbleyung Landcare Zone, GeoCatch, Nature Conservation Margaret River Region and Wagin Woodanilling Landcare.