2 November 2006 ECOTOURISM AUSTRALIA 2006 INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE Townsville: Why the Ecotourism Sustainability Model? Cr. Ann Bunnell Deputy Mayor Townsville City Council
What I will cover today Why Ecotourism and Townsville? Why is ecotourism important? Highlight what can be role of Local Government? A guided tour of Townsville’s initiatives in Ecotourism Networks and activities – infrastructure, activities (youth) Linkages – Thailand, Mexico, and Townsville
Welcome to Townsville • Queensland’s largest regional City - industrial, administrative, cultural & environmental (sustainability) • Region is home to over 158,500 people • Area of 4000 km2 (including City of Thuringowa)
A Distinctive Queensland Experience Townsville : • where Tropical Savannas meet the coast • southern gateway to the Wet Tropics • abuts the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area
Our area has: • coastal mountains • wetlands • mangroves, • seagrass gardens, • fringing coral reefs • islands.
Why in Townsville? Growing interest by visitors in sustainable tourism Interest in eco-experiences and associated business opportunities is growing Ecotourism – as a business model can demonstrate sustainability (social, economic, & environment) – As such it can be a fundamental opportunity, and Offers another dimension for local government Rising demand for innovative local governance and community-based partnerships (CVA, Reefcheck)
What have we done Fostered partnerships Mapping and promotion of natural assets Local innovations involving community Development of networks and regional cooperation
Role of local government in Supporting and developing ecotourism opportunities Planning; Provision of Infrastructure (walking tracks & interp) Mapping of assets (natural, cultural, built) Providing opportunities for community education & involvement Addressing environmental concerns; and Provision of information to the community
Rising demand and challenge to address the fundamental issues of triple bottom line sustainability • Appropriately developed ecotourism offers and integrated response at all levels of community and education, environment, and economy • Intrinsic nature of ecotourism model is involved in conserving environments, protecting communities and culture, whilst delivering a profit • Why is Ecotourism Important?
ECONOMY • COMMUNITY & EDUCATION • ENVIRONMENT And what is important is the integration between them • In summary --- Ecotourism delivers:
ECONOMY • Develop business opportunities and employment • Contributes to both the local and regional economy • Top opportunity for growth with rising demand for eco-experiences
COMMUNITY & EDUCATION • Educates locals and visitors on environmental issues • Develops community capacity building • Fosters partnerships and opportunities • Values community and culture
ENVIRONMENT • Discloses local natural and cultural assets • Provides understanding and connection to nature • Helps minimize impact on the environment
In a nutshell • Ecotourism involves: • meaningful community participation & cultural protection • business development and local economy • environmental protection and conservation
Townsville’s Vision for Ecotourism “To ensure an ecologically sustainable and economically viable ecotourism industry in the Townsville region”. “Where the rich natural diversity, cultural heritage, and unique lifestyle are so valued by the entire community…
Townsville’s Vision for Ecotourism …that they are proactive in its management and conservation for future generations. Ecotourismrepresents the pre-eminent form of tourism in the region and engage, educates and delights our visitors”.
Townsville’s Ecotourism Strategy • Community-based approach (1998 – workshops and Strategy 2000) • Develops and promotes opportunities for business and fosters cooperation across the North Queensland region • Notion of the “Townsville Experience” or “Trang Experience” (Thailand) Linking with Kenya – plants, gondwana, people, experiences (or Sao Paulo or Cape Town)
Townsville’s Ecotourism Strategy • Local Government as a facilitator of Ecotourism opportunities • Relevant Townsville municipality and community response • Two community workshops sessions held in 1998
Townsville’s Ecotourism Strategy - implementation • This strategy has included development of the Council’s innovative and dynamic web-based Townsville Regional Natural Assets Database 2004, and www.townsville.qld.gov.au/nad/ State of Environment Report 2003 www.soe-townsville.org/
Townsville’s Ecotourism Strategy - implementation • Partnerships with regional stakeholders business opportunities, networks and visions for the future of ecotourism in Townsville & region • Interpretative eco-landscapes on the ground and across the city • Upgrades of infrastructure,facilities and walking tracks
Townsville’s Ecotourism Strategy - implementation • Emergence of eco-catchment tours for promoting environmental awareness, ownership and integration • Increase in number of local & regional nature-based or ecotourism operators from 2 to 9 • Development of regional ecotourism initiatives Bird Watching Cluster and Great Tropical Way marketing and branding - Townsville as an environmental destination & sustainable city
Redeveloped Strand Foreshore as an icon of “Townsville Experience” • Great facilities – peoples place • Environmental art and interpretation • Awareness raising on natural environments (turtles & dugong) • Scenic views to the World Heritage “waters” of Cleveland Bay and Magnetic Island.
Townsville’s Ecotourism Strategy – themes • Ecotourism –Economy, Environment and Future • Environmental Education and Experience, and • Regional and Local Partnerships and Opportunities
Ecotourism – Economy, Environment and Future • Townsville has competitive advantage for ecotourism– including pristine beauty, unique experience, culture & friendly people • In 2003 International “ecotourists” were recorded as being almost double the number of non-ecotourists, and stayed twice as long
Environmental Education and Experience • Eco-attractions such as are key aspects seen as sustainable and attractive place to visit. • They educate locals and visitors on environmental issues. • provide opportunities for people to become involved as volunteers or start their own ecotourism business.
Townsville Ecotourism Networks Key projects and outcomes include: • Ecotours to various Local Government areas in conjunction with Townsville Enterprise • Networking and sharing information on local eco-tourism initiatives; • Mapping of ecotourism attractions and potential sites and maps; • Producing web pages of ecotourism • 2006 – Urban Nature: Youth Ecotourism Forum, Student Art Jigsaw, and international video conference call
Townsville Ecotourism Networks Future initiatives include; • Exploring Green Globe certification • Encouraging & supporting local businesses to obtain EcotourismAccreditation • Working with International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), ITMEMS, and Reef Check • Possible collaborations with Savannah Guides? We supported their school in Townsville • Centre of Excellence in Tropical Design (Sustainability & Innovation)
Townsville Ecotourism Networks Ecotourism strategy ties in with the development of Townsville’s: • Healthy City Plan • Sustainable Townsville Program • Reef Guardians Councils (GBRMPA) www.soe-townsville.org/sustainable/
Environmental Protection, Facilities and Interpretive Learnscapes • Castle Hill- Reserve managed for environmental protection • Town Common - tropical savanna covered hills and peaks, lowland woodlands, estuarine habitats and freshwater-marine wetlands (managed by QPWS).
Environmental Protection, Facilities and Interpretive Learnscapes • Magnetic Island– Situated within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, “Maggie” hosts: • Nelly Bay Habitat Interpretive Centre– an award-winning facility used extensively by local tour guides. • Landscape Ecology, Flora & Fauna, and Heritage signage & interpretive stations across the island – giving a “sense of place”
Environmental Protection, Facilities and Interpretive Learnscapes • Further Coastal Learnscapes planned for Rowes Bay, promoting marine habitats of mudflats and sponge gardens (JCU and Belgium Gardens School students)
Townsville Ecotourism Operators and Opportunities Townsville historically has a growing number of eco-tour operators • Billabong Sanctuary - wildlife park • Reef HQ education centre for Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area • Magnetic Island Sea Kayaks - winners of 12 local and state tourism awards • Magnetic Island Reef Eco Tours - operated by local marine biologist • Ironbark Tours & Pop Sullivan– wetland tours
Summary • Ecotourism offers exciting possibilities for the future • Townsville a great ecotourism environment • The ecotourism business, environmental, social-cultural model can be effectively used as a surrogate for discussions on wider-sustainability in communities and urban environments • Townsville is a the forefront of ecotourism development and promotion with its own ecotourism vision and strategy • Responsibility to showcase two of the world’s great environmental icons (Wet Tropics and Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Areas) Cont’d
Summary • Ecotourism business is developing fast in the Townsville region thanks to partnership opportunities, networks and regional cooperation • The Ecotourism Australia International Conference has been an excellent opportunity to forge new and exciting partnerships and we thankyou for your time and participation • Townsville is fully involved in integrating its community with a sustainable future and ecotourism is a natural …
THANK YOU web link www.soe-townsville.org/ecotourism/ Photographs: TCC, Dr A.Lewis, GBRMPA, D.Silke, Townsville Tropical Tours, Billabong Sanctuary, and MI Sea Kayaks
“Ecotourism isecologically sustainable tourism with a primary focus on experiencing natural areas that fosters environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation." (def: Ecotourism Australia).