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Rottnest Island sustainable visitor capacity

Tuesday, 01 December 2009

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Rottnest Island, located 20 kilometres west of Perth, is one of Western Australia's premier tourism destinations and is a favourite holiday getaway for Perth residents. The island and its surrounds are designated as an A-class reserve imposing a dual mandate of providing recreational and tourism opportunities, while conserving environmental and cultural assets on the managing agency, the Rottnest Island Authority (RIA). To assist the RIA in balancing the environmental, social and economic needs, a project lead by Pascal Scherrer from the Centre for Ecosystem Management, Jeremy Northcote (ECU) and Jim Macbeth (Murdoch University) examined the level of visitation that selected sites on the Island can sustain in the face of pressures on environmental conservation, visitor experience, heritage conservation and facility maintenance. The concept of sustainable visitor capacity (SVC) was used to specify the limits of visitation that each site can undergo before management of that site becomes unsustainable in environmental, social, cultural and facility maintenance terms. The objective was to gain an in-depth understanding of the SVC of a representative cross-section of sites, so that they could be used by the RIA as a point of reference when dealing with similar sites across the Island in future planning and management strategies. The project forms an important component of the Rottnest Island Management Plan 2009-2014 (RIMP) and the findings from the project are expected to inform other initiatives outlined in the plan.

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