Page 3280 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 23 August 2017

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Canberrans pride themselves on their recycling awareness and the conscious efforts they make always to leave an area as clean as they found it. We have people who fish for carp in our lakes to reduce this pest and others who sponsor various projects to reduce water or stop litter going into stormwater drains. We have Canberrans who plant trees in public spaces because they know it is important to do so. So it is not fair to suggest that human activity is a negative for the environment overall, and my colleague Andrew Wall will also be talking more on how human activity will help to grow ecotourism.

Successive ACT governments have prided themselves on their focus on matters relating to the environment. Indeed, since the ACT Legislative Assembly was first formed, successive Assemblies have looked at various environmental matters and a consistent theme has been development of an ecotourism strategy. In the early 1990s ecotourism was the focus of governments at all levels. In November 1993 the commonwealth Department of Tourism released a draft national ecotourism strategy, and a final strategy was released in March 1994. As many of the issues identified within that strategy fell within the responsibilities of the states and territories, the ACT government was among the first to identify the need and set in place the process for the development of an ecotourism policy particular to the Australian Capital Territory.

In 1993 the ACT Tourism Commission published the Ecotourism in the Australian Capital Territory issues paper, which said, inter alia, that:

Effective management of natural resources is essential if ecotourism is to develop. The very nature of ecotourism depends on the conservation of our natural resources. Any development of an ecotourism industry for the ACT must consider the implications for natural resource management and the role of ACT and Commonwealth Government agencies responsible for managing these resources.

Ecotourism is an industry which has the ability to attract interstate and overseas visitors to the region, injecting significant funds into the ACT economy and contributing to the employment of Canberrans. These benefits should flow largely to the ACT as host community. The issue of maintaining park areas and not diverting funds away from park conservation is an important element of this issue. The Government will examine the various revenue collection and management options during the production of a marketing plan for nature and conservation areas.

In 1994 Canberra Tourism established an ecotourism working group made up of private and public sector representation to develop a draft ecotourism strategy. In June 1995 the ACT Standing Committee on Economic Development and Tourism resolved to inquire into and report on the benefits to the ACT economy arising from the further expansion of tourism based upon the development of the territory’s national and nature parks.

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