ECU's Professor Ross Dowling and Research Fellow Dr Pascal Scherrer, in conjunction with Dr Amanda Smith from Murdoch University, conducted comprehensive research into the environmental and cultural aspects of expedition cruise tourism in the Kimberley coastal waterways.
Dr Scherrer says the increase in the number and size of vessels cruising the region has the potential to impose significant environmental impacts on the local area, and must be considered as part of a responsible approach to growth in the industry.
"The Kimberley tourism experience is based heavily on the enjoyment of a pristine, spectacular natural environment, and so it's critical that tourism operators, local stakeholders and the area's Traditional Owners work together to ensure a well-managed, holistic approach to tourism in the area," he said.
Some other areas of concern highlighted by the study include the need to protect the rich Indigenous heritage of the area and the fragile ecosystems that exist in the region, as well as the need to address the lack of supporting infrastructure and collaboration in the area.
"There is currently a lack of coordination for tourism in the region, which needs to be addressed to ensure the Kimberley remains the world-class tourism destination that it should be, not only now, but also into the future" Dr Scherrer said.
ECU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kerry Cox, said he was pleased to see ECU researchers contributing much needed data and analysis to an area previously under-researched.
"ECU's researchers continue to contribute knowledge and understanding to key industries that underpin the Western Australian economy, while also considering the environmental impact and potential sustainability issues," he sad.
The report was funded by the Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre, a dedicated tourism research organisation, with over $187 million invested in tourism research programs, commercialisation and education since 1997.
Entitled Tourism and the Kimberley Coastal Waterways: Environmental and cultural aspects of expedition cruising, the report is available from the Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre at www.crctourism.com.au.
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Researchers from Edith Cowan University's (ECU) School of Marketing, Tourism and Leisure have released a report calling for a number of environmental issues to be addressed by the tourism industry in the Kimberley.