Nature guides the way

WA eco-tourism operators will be able to draw on international experience to develop their businesses using a new WA tourism publication.

Based on a study of eco-tourism accommodation in Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya, Belize and the US Virgin Islands, Designing Tourism Naturally is a review of the world’s best practice in wilderness lodges and tent safaris.

The report, which outlines the best ways for WA operators to establish eco-tourism businesses, evolved from the WA Tourism Commission’s Nature Based Tourism Strategy, which focuses on sustainable and economically viable low-impact nature-based tourism in remote parts of WA.

The task force found that none of the places visited provided perfect eco-tourism destinations.

The report identified a number of issues for WA including a trend toward small-scale, eco-sensitive tourist developments, the need for integration with local environments and communities, the need for tourism to contribute to conservation values and the need for tourism to play a role in supporting conservation and community development.

WATC chief executive Shane Crockett said the publication would prove beneficial for new operators looking at developing a eco-tourism product.

He said that while WA was not looking to compete with Africa’s “mega-fauna” experience, the State had strong claims to “true wilderness character”.

WA Wine Association president Denis Horgan said the wine industry could also benefit. He said Margaret River led WA, if not Australia, in wine tourism.

Following the Leeuwin Estate concert on January 27, the winery will host the first world wine tourism conference.

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