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Natural / Protected Area Assets

As consumers become increasingly environmentally aware and the trend towards outdoor / nature activities grows, the importance of managing a destination's natural assets has come into greater focus. While natural areas can be some of the most popular visitor attractions in a destination they are also some of the most fragile, requiring extensive planning and management to maintain and preserve. Read more
As consumers become increasingly environmentally aware and the trend towards outdoor / nature activities grows, the importance of managing a destination's natural assets has come into greater focus. While natural areas can be some of the most popular visitor attractions in a destination they are also some of the most fragile, requiring extensive planning and management to maintain and preserve. Research into the development of tourism products and experiences in natural areas has shown that:

 

  • Tourism and protected areas can co-exist with appropriate planning for tourism product development to preserve the ecological and cultural values of the site. The EarthCheck Design and Operating Standard developed by the Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre (STCRC) is used as a minimum requirement in many protected areas worldwide;
  • A comprehensive impact assessment should be undertaken when identifying potential tourism development opportunities for natural areas, including the economic, social and ecological impacts and benefits. Continual assessment, such as that demonstrated by Kangaroo Island with its Leave Only Footprints environmental reporting program, is important for monitoring the impacts of tourism on the environment;
  • Destination Management Tip

    Making the most of protected areas means considering visitor needs and aligning these with the management and conservation values of the area.

  • Planning for tourism development in natural areas needs to take into consideration visitor interests and needs and matching visitor demands with the management and conservation goals of the site, accessibility, supporting facilities, interpretation and education;
  • Strong partnerships with natural area managers, local government, industry operators and the community is essential for identifying tourism opportunities within natural areas and ensuring appropriate development and management. The partnership between the Department of Environment and Conservation, the Water Commission and industry in managing protected areas in the Tapestry Region in Western Australia is a best case example of a successful cooperative partnership.
  • Protected area management in particular is a complex process, finding a balance between visitor experiences and enjoyment, maintaining the conservation values of the area and ensuring appropriate visitor management practices;
  • Recognising the potential impacts of climate change on natural areas is important for long-term planning and strategic direction.

 

In-depth analysis and planning for the development of tourism in natural areas is required prior to investment in development. For more information on the tourism development in natural areas please see Protection of the Natural Environment’ in the Destination Development section. The Sustainable Tourism Research Centre has an extensive body of research on development and management in protected areas which discussed in further detail in the dedicated ‘Parks and Culture’ section of the portal.


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