Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Australia featured in Wetlands and Tourism publication launched at Ramsar COP 11

Destination Wetlands: supporting sustainable tourism

10 July 2012, Bucharest, Romania - 'Destination Wetlands: supporting sustainable tourism’ was launched at the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.  It features the Kakadu National Park of Australia, one of 14 case studies in the publication that was formed as a joint partnership between the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the UN World Tourism Organisation.

According to ‘Destination Wetlands: supporting sustainable tourism’, international tourism is expected to reach 1 billion international arrivals and forecast to rise to 1.8 billion by 2030. 

Wetlands are a significant tourism experience and are likely to be a key part of the expansion in demand for tourism locations.  People are naturally attracted to water and coastal wetlands such as coral reefs and beaches and to inland wetlands such as lakes and rivers, for the Pacific region in particular beaches are a key selling point for tourism.

Marine Protected Area, Chelbacheb, Palau
Photo:  Stuart Chape
“The relevance of this theme for the Pacific is immense, during the Palau Ramsar meeting in March this year, participants highlighted and reaffirmed the value of tourism as one of the most important economic sectors for the region, ” said Mr. Vainuupo Jungblut, the Oceania Ramsar Officer at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme.

“Given the role our wetlands play in Pacific tourism, this publication should be of interest to many of our SPREP members, not just those that are Ramsar contracting parties.”

“Wetlands, home and destination” is the theme of the Ramsar COP11, with Tourism and Wetlands being the special theme of 2012.  The new publication contains references to existing guidelines on sustainable tourism as well as many other useful materials on developing and managing sustainable tourism.  It is relevant to wetland site managers, tourism and wetland policymakers and planners, and the private sector.

The Kakadu National Park is located in the Northern Territory of Australia it covers an area of nearly two million hectares and encompasses a living Aboriginal culture, extraordinary natural landscapes, a rich variety of plans and animals as well as rock art and archaeological sites.  In 1981 the Park was listed as a World Heritage Area.

Tourism in Kakadu generates local income, employment, business opportunities, services and support for cultural traditions.  It is also a significant attraction for Australia’s international tourism.  From 2007 – 2009, the Park received over 225,000 visitors per year, generating an annual economic impact of AUD 130 million directly from visitors.  These numbers then dropped to 176,000 in 2010 due to the impact of the global economic downturn on international tourism.  Approximately 55 per cent of visitors to Kakadu National Park are Australian residents with 45 percent being international visitors.

Kakadu National Park featured in publication
“Kakadu is is a key element in Australia's National Landscapes program which promotes the best destinations Australia has to offer for their distinctive natural and cultural experiences,” said Greg Manning, Head of the Australian delegation at Ramsar COP 11.

“Kakadu National Park features a successful model of joint management between the Aboriginal Traditional Owners and the Australian Government's Director of National Parks. Through joint management, the Traditional Owners work together with park staff to balance the protection of their culture and the places that are important to them with the needs of tourists and other stakeholders. The Traditional Owners of Kakadu are proud to share their country with visitors.”

Palau, an Oceania contracting party to the convention is also featured in the publication, with an image taken during the Oceania Preparatory meeting for Ramsar COP11 while on a kayaking tour.  The image of New Zealands booklet on 'Magical Places, 40 wetlands to visit in New Zealand' is also featured in the publication.

To learn more about Tourism and Wetlands please visit:  http://www.ramsar.org/cda/en/ramsar-tourismandwetlands/main/ramsar/1%5E25782_4000_0__

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