Curtin University has launched a UN-endorsed, Australia-first ‘tourism observatory’ for the South West of Australia, with the Margaret River region being the first local area of focus.
The observatory is a large-scale data and evidence gathering project which aims to guide tourism decision-making and policy development. Its long term goals are to ensure that tourism development in Australia’s South West will contribute to the attractiveness of the region as a place to live and to visit while limiting the impact on its sensitive natural environment which is a unique and rare biodiversity hotspot.
The research will involve five surveys carried out on a yearly basis among local residents, tourism industry businesses and visitors. Factors to be monitored include economic benefits of tourism, local satisfaction with tourism, waste and water management and landscape quality. A yearly report will bring together the findings of the research for the benefit of the region.
Full press release from Curtin University:
A new tourism observatory established by Curtin University and the Western Australian Government will aim to support the sustainable tourism development of Australia’s South West region and preserve its unique natural environment, joining the global network of tourism observatories (INSTO) of the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
The Australia’s South West Tourism Observatory (ASWTO), hosted by Curtin University, will be led by Dr Michael Volgger from Curtin’s Tourism Research Cluster and has been recognised into the prestigious group by UNWTO as the first of its kind in Australia.
WA Tourism Minister the Hon Paul Papalia said WA’s South West region is one of WA’s most popular tourism destinations – one that holds a special place in the heart of all West Australians.
“This destination is renowned for its spectacular coastline, stunning forests and world-class food and wine,” the Tourism Minister said.
“It’s these unique features that attracted about 3.2 million visitors to the region in the year ending March 2019, who contributed more than $1.6 million to the economy.
“Preserving the South West region’s natural beauty while also supporting sustainable tourism development is of the utmost importance to the State Government.”
Dr Volgger said he was delighted to be involved in the establishment of the new observatory.
“The observatory will play an important role in the state’s future tourism development by providing relevant regional data to ensure tourism strategies in Australia’s South West region showcase the region as an attractive place to live and visit, without impacting its sensitive natural environment,” Dr Volgger said.
“This observatory will first focus on the development of the Margaret River Region, which includes both the City of Busselton and the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River, before extending its focus to include Australia’s entire South West region.
“The long-term prosperity of this region depends on the fragile balance between regional development and the preservation of its unique natural environment. This observatory will be fundamental in ensuring we provide reliable evidence to support smart decision-making at government and company levels to make sure the region remains attractive for residents and tourists in the many years to come.”
Director of the Department of Sustainable Tourism Development at UNWTO Dr Dirk Glaesser said ensuring the sustainable development of tourism requires timely and relevant information and decision processes using this evidence.
“We are happy to witness this commitment and warmly welcome the Australia’s South West Tourism Observatory to our global INSTO family,” Dr Glaesser said.
Australia’s South West region is internationally recognised as a rich, nature-based tourism destination, with a variety of natural attractions including remarkable coastlines, superb beaches and forests, and a diverse marine environment, which is home to more than 4,000 species of plants and 100 species of animals.
The observatory will be supported by a range of partners including the Western Australian State Government, Tourism Western Australia, the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Australia’s South West, the Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association as well as the Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia (RAC) and Expedia.
Curtin University’s Tourism Research Cluster is a world-class rated inter-disciplinary and cross-faculty research centre, which is hosted by the School of Marketing in the Faculty of Business and Law. It is Western Australia’s most recognised tourism research unit.