Geotourism at ECU
Monday, 24 May 2010
Ross Dowling at Geotourism Conference
Professor Ross Dowling from the School of Marketing, Tourism and Leisure, co-organised the recent Global Geotourism Conference in Mulu, Malaysia, from 17 – 20 April 2010.
Participants were shuttled into the dense rainforest to take part in the Conference, now in its second year, which was initiated by Professor Dowling in 2008.
Geologists, eco-tourism operators and academics from 13 countries attended the Conference, offering concepts and sharing success stories and challenges faced in geotourism.
Professor Dowling introduced the conference, which was themed 'Making Unique Landforms Understandable'. In his presentation, Professor Dowling described geotourism as a relatively new tourism product based on geological features.
“Geotourism can be in a built area or natural surroundings, or both” he said.
Professor Dowling spoke of geoparks and the manner in which geotourism provides value to local communities; two concepts that were discussed in detail throughout the event.
He describes geoparks as an area with a geological heritage of significance, with a coherent and strong management structure wand where sustainable economic development strategy is in place.
And geoparks are big business. “We need to identify the geo products, gain community support to develop them, and introduce smart marketing” remarked Professor Dowling, adding that branding is an important element in the development of geoparks.
Other speakers discussed the development, management and marketing of unique landscapes. The conference concluded with an invitation to delegates from Ministry of Tourism HE Muhammed to attend the Third Global Geotourism Conference, which will be held in Oman in 2011.
Prior to this, Professor Dowling also attended the 4th Annual UNESCO Geoparks Conference, held in Langkawi, Malaysia from 9 – 15 April 2010, which welcomed over 500 attendees.
Acting in his role as an advisor to UNESCO, Professor Dowling gave a keynote speech and co-chaired a variety of workshops, speaking on the marketing of geoparks worldwide.
Geotourism is one of the travel industry’s most innovative niche sectors, which is taught as a unit at ECU under the expert guidance of Professor Dowling. A Geotourism unit caters for people who are interested in tapping into the growing market of enthusiasts who want to visit geologically significant locations.
For more information on Geotourism at ECU, please contact Professor Ross Dowling.