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‘Geotourism - Opportunities for Employment’
AUGEN, January 2020
Angus M Robinson
Coordinator, National Geotourism Strategy
Australian Geoscience Council
The Australian Geoscience Council (AGC) is the
peak Council of geoscientists in Australia
representing eight major Australian geoscientific
societies with a total membership of over 8,000
Under the current 2015-2020 Strategic Plan of
the AGC, and as a Geoscience advocacy
opportunity, the AGC has decided to formulate a
draft National Geotourism Strategy to
accommodate the orderly development of major
geotourism projects and activities in line with
overseas trends and domestic regional
Understanding National Heritage
Ecotourism and Geotourism
National Geotourism Strategy Discussion Topics
Tourism Earth Sciences
Geotourism and Employment Opportunities
Take-Aways: Major Geotourism Development in
Natural heritage is the
legacy of natural objects
and intangible attributes
countryside and natural
environment, including flora
and fauna, scientifically
known as BIODIVERSITY, and
geology, landforms and soil
Ecotourism is ecologically sustainable
tourism with a primary focus on
experiencing protected natural areas
that fosters environmental and
cultural understanding, appreciation
But ecotourism per se is too narrowly
defined and is increasingly seen as a
However 'geotourism is holistic,
nature-based and cultural tourism
that focuses on an area's geology &
landscape as the platform for
providing visitor engagement,
learning and enjoyment'.
Ecotourism is practised
predominantly in protected
areas such as national parks
whereas geotourism is
undertaken also in all areas
where primary industry
activities are being carried out.
Unlike ecotourism, geotourism is
increasingly seen globally as an
instrument of regional economic
comprises the following features of both
natural and cultural heritage:
Abiotic – non-living aspects such as the
climate & geology e.g. landscape and
Biotic – the living parts eg. fauna (animals)
and flora (plants): BIODIVERSITY.
Cultural – past & present, indigenous and
post European settlement, non-living and
Holistic in scope, geotourism is booming
globally and a key driver for tourism,
particularly in Europe and Asia.
Source: Professor Ross Dowling
all types of ‘nature-based’ tourism
Geotourism Delivery Mechanisms
1. Geosites & Mining Heritage Sites.
2. Geological Time Walks.
4. Geoparks - both national and UNESCO global.
5. Mining Parks e.g. as in China
1. Geotourism as a means of celebrating
2. Enhanced coordination nationally of
3. Establishment of a national set of
administrative procedures for
4. New geotrail development.
5. Geotourism to strengthen Australia’s
international geoscience standing.
6. Training of geologists to improve
communication skills for geosite
7. Collaboration with providers of other
areas of natural (bioregion) and cultural
(particularly MINING) heritage content.
Geotourism celebrating Geoheritage:
By expansion of the Geotourism map
concept (as developed in NSW)
progressively across Australia on a
‘state by state’ basis (both hard copy
and online) supplemented by
By consideration of new ICTs (e.g.
smartphones, 3D visualisation, AR &
VR), GIS technologies as a cost-
effective means of accessing and
better communicating geological
content for travellers and residents
in regional Australia.
Enhanced coordination nationally of
geoheritage listings with the objective of
highlighting areas of both geotourism value
and geosites that need to be protected,
the right balance needs to be
determined between the needs of
exposing geosites for public visitation
and geoconservation needs, and
there are no national standards or
guidelines with each state/territory
having different strategies and systems
for recording geoheritage.
New National Park
Iconic Ediacaran Fossil Site
Establishment of a national set
of administrative procedures for
‘georegional’ assessment to
provide for potential geopark
nominations at state and
national levels and, as approved
by governments, at a UNESCO
Global Geopark level.
In large regional areas such as the
Murchison in Western Australia, the
Mid West Development Commission
and local councils are undertaking a
Including the determination of the
most viable geotourism delivery
In the first instance this is focused
on geotrail development.
This may lead to the identification
of an area suitable for geopark
development, subject to State
More focus needs to be applied to
communicating the ‘georegional’
nature of geotourism.
Preferred focus first on geotrail
Any emerging geopark proposals must
be supported by Geological Surveys.
More time must be allowed to gain
community engagement/support to
ensure geopark sustainability.
Need to compile and promote
quantifiable data and analysis to
establish socio-economic benefit.
New Geotrail Development:
individual geological surveys from
the States and Territories be invited
to engage, on an ‘as needs’ basis,
and in collaboration with
university/museum interest groups
as well as with state/territory
divisions and branches of the
interested professional societies, to
review the suitability of existing
roads, bushwalks, biking and rail
trails as potential geotrails.
Regional development imperatives
(growth and jobs) are now driving
geotourism initiatives in Australia.
Creating geotrails is arguably the
easiest way of providing early
pathways and support from
governments for geotourism
activities in Australia.
Successful roll-out of geotrails will
instill confidence in geotourism,
providing a future pathway to
geopark establishment and
development in Australia.
Relates directly to the tourism
experience of a journey linking
In Australia, unlike geoparks,
geotrails have widespread appeal,
and do not compete with or impact
on land management/access issues.
Geotrails are relatively easy to
establish and represent a very cost-
effective means of enhancing
Can form the basis of a 'defacto
Should be constructed around
routes currently used by
tourists; geotrails should form
logical journeys linking
Should meld the geological
heritage features of a region
with a cohesive STORY.
Should incorporate and package
in the biodiversity and cultural
components (including mining
heritage) of the region through
which the geotrail traverses.
Current & Potential Major Geotrail Projects in Australia
1. Tasmania - West Coast Geotrail, Furneaux Geotrail.
2. Queensland - Savannah Way, Dig the Tropics, Boulder Opal
3. Victoria/SA - Kanawinka, Great Ocean Road.
4. South Australia - Brachina Gorge, Great Central Geotrail
5. Western Australia - Murchison Proposal.
6. New South Wales - Volcano geotrail proposal (Warrumbungle)
7. Northern Territory – Range of new proposals (Mark Asendorf).
Plus a wide range of smaller, dedicated geotrails along
walking tracks, old rail easements etc. being developed in
NSW (e.g. various Riverina Rail Trail projects), Tasmania, Qld,
WA and SA; and river trails (e.g. Darling River Run).
Marketing & Promotion - Living Earth Geotrail
The following markets & strategies will give the GeoTrail the best chance of
achieving an increase in visitor stops & stays as well as associated revenue.
engage the local communities of the Trail to build pride and referrals to
family, friends and visitors through involvement in content development,
familiarisations, progress reporting and ongoing promotion.
engage the existing visitor market to increase the number of stops and
stays through the development and promotion of online communications
and a downloadable free mobile app.
engage relevant specialist groups in the Trail experience through use of
specific publications and newsletters.
engage the potential education market through the development and
promotion of a regional education package involving the Trail and other
GSNSW Support of
Warrumbungle Geotourism Project
Committed resources to upgrading geological
interpretation within the Warrumbungle National
Developing Geotrail networks across the Central
Supported the University of Newcastle in developing
a coastal geotrail at Port Macquarie.
Published geotrail brochures for the Lower Hunter
Region at Newcastle and at Broken Hill, and has
recently developed a Time Walk at Newcastle.
Exemplar: Port Macquarie Coastal Geotrail, NSW
"The collaborative geotrail project has been led by the University of
Newcastle (A) & supported by Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, the
Geological Survey of NSW (A), NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
(B) & Birpai Local Aboriginal Land Council (C). Supported by a
brochure, website & smartphone app, the Port Macquarie Coastal
Geotrail is a four kilometre walk from Shelly Beach to Rocky Beach
that tells the story of plate tectonics & how the Earth’s crust was
formed along the stretch of coastline over the past 460 million years".
Ulladulla Geological Time
Walk - Conceived and
Created by Phil Smart,
Supported by a fossil walk and
Using geotourism to strengthen
Australia’s international geoscience
and enhance its influence for the
long- term benefits of Australian
geoscientists through the
establishment of sister park, sister
museum/rock garden, sister
geological and mining heritage sites
relationships, particularly with China
and countries in the Asia-Pacific
Also relevant for countries that enjoy
‘Gondwana age’ geological
relationships with Australia.
Australia-China Memorandum of Cooperation
The GSA and the Geological Society of China
Executed June 2016
The Australia-China relationship is becoming more
important with the increasing level of economic,
social and cultural activities in the coming decades.
The Memorandum of Cooperation will be focused
on growing and enhancing best practice nature-
based tourism (i.e. geotourism) in both countries.
Tourism park managers could play a significant role
in establishing ‘sister’ relationships between parks,
as a key driver of future geotourism.
opportunities for geoscientists
wishing to develop content
interpretation and tour guiding skills
for enhanced interaction with the
engagement with the Savannah
Guides organisation, the
professional group - Interpretation
using best practice audio and
Tourism Earth Sciences - Definition
Originating in China in the 1980s, a multi-disciplinary
academic subject adopting knowledge and
methodology of Earth Sciences to understand, study,
plan, protect and utilise tourism resources.
A new branch of Earth Sciences to study tourism,
leisure, and their relationship with the composition,
structures, energy movement and changes of Earth’s
surface. It includes tourism environments involving
geology and geography and therefore is a fusion of
tourism geology and tourism geography.
Tourism Earth Sciences - Opportunities
Education & research
Geoparks and geoconservation
Tourism – national parks, tour guides
Economic development – UNESCO Global Geoparks,
World Bank, AuSAID, regional development agencies
Mechanisms for collaboration
with providers of other areas of
natural (bioregion) and cultural
inclusive of mining and
resource industry heritage
(e.g. mining companies,
geological and mining
as well as specialist groups
with interests in flora and
Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park, Taiwan
Herberton Mining Centre and Walking Trails
The Mineral Exploration/Geotourism Interface
Exploring the opportunity for discovery.
Love of landscapes/great outdoors/travel.
Satisfying project work with challenges.
Learning new skills and knowledge.
Educating/enthusing others in an outdoor
environment - quite different from the
Where is the Gold in Geotourism?
New domestic employment and consulting opportunities
for geoscientists - interpretation signage/boards, design
of geotrails etc; particularly important during mining
Consulting opportunities in developing countries where
geoparks are now being nominated and developed.
Management roles in geoparks, regional development and
local government agencies.
Increased revenues for regions and local communities.
Opportunity for geology related interests during early
The State and Territory Chief
Government Geologists are
considering a proposed ‘way
forward’ based on these
discussion topics as identified by
the Australian Geoscience
It is hoped that priority may be
able to be given to making a
start on implementing these
recommended measures in
collaboration with the
constituent member societies of
The AGC remains confident that
a national geotourism strategy
can start to emerge during 2020.
Significant geotourism initiatives are emerging
globally and in Australia.
Geotourism development will in time necessitate the
employment of geoscientists.
Careers in geotourism can complement employment
in mining and exploration.
University Earth Science Faculties should consider
introducing Tourism Earth Science as a curricular
option, but include geomorphology as a core subject.
Tel: 0418 488 340
Information about Australian Geotourism and Geopark Development Activities
Australian Geoscience Council