Next week, as current chair of Wildlife Tourism Australia Inc., I head to Melbourne to meet some of the local organising committee for Australia’s third conference on wildlife tourism, plus representatives from Tourism Victoria (our major sponsor), Zoos Victoria and Parks Victoria. I’ll also visit the two venues we are deciding between for the conference, and we should make the final decision by the end of the week.
Wildlife Tourism: a Force for Biodiversity Conservation and Local Economies?
Geelong, Victoria 29 Sep – 2 Oct 2015
This will be an exciting conference, with keynote speakers from Malaysia, Indonesia,USA and Australia speaking on important themes, and with plenty of opportunity for round table discussion.
From the WTA website:
Tuesday: welcome to delegates, registration
Wednesday: international aspects
How do other countries asses the value of, promote and manage wildlife tourism? What problems have they faced and what solutions have they found?
Which associations perform a similar role to Wildlife Tourism Australia in other countries, and what are their goals and activities?
What is new in wildlife tourism in our our nearest neighbours (New Zealand, New Guinea, Southeast Asia, Antarctica), and could there be more cross-promotion of wildlife travel between our countries, and promotion of our general region to the rest of the world?
Thursday: contributions of tourism to conservation
How are tour operations currently contributing to conservation of wildlife and their habitats (including monetary contributions, habitat restoration, public education, conservation breeding, citizen science etc.)?
What is the potential for increased contribution by wildlife tourism and the tourism industry in general to conservation of wildlife and habitats?
Friday: the value of wildlife tourism to local economies
What do we already know of the contributions of wildlife tourism to local and regional economies?
What kinds of wildlife tourism can encourage tourists to visit less-traveled regions, spend an extra night , or make repeat visits?
What obstacles are faced by small businesses and NGOs trying to stay afloat while offering high-quality wildlife experiences and interpretation to visitors?
Who should attend?
Wildlife tour operators (including birding tours, whale-watching, reef-diving etc.)
Managers and other staff of ecolodges, rural B&Bs, farmstays etc. who offer bird-watching or other wildlife experiences
general tour operators and guides who include wildlife-watching amongst their activities
Zoos, wildlife parks and museums
Researchers and students of wildlife tourism, ecotourism, nature tourism, nature interpretation/education and related topics
Travel agents and tourism organizations
Local and state government bodies
Others with an interest in tourism which involves wildlife