The Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson AM MP and the Minister for Environment Protection, Peter Garrett AM MP, today (13 April 2010) announced the Kimberley region will be included in Tourism Australia’s National Landscapes Program and will feature prominently within Australia’s future international tourism marketing.
Landscapes are nominated by local communities, in this case the Kimberley National Landscapes Steering Committee.
With the support of Tourism Australia and Parks Australia, the Steering Committee will now bring together tourism industry and government stakeholders to identify commercial opportunities, environmental management priorities, infrastructure gaps and marketing plans.
Nearly two thirds of international visitors identify an Australian nature experience as a highlight of their visit.
The National Landscapes Program aims to promote Australian landscapes which will be major drawcards for international visitors because of their natural and cultural values.
It also aims to help regional tourism operators develop quality tourism products and services that capitalise on these values, celebrating the environmental significance and importance of the unique landscapes that are part of the program.
Minister Ferguson said: “The Kimberley’s rich Indigenous history and culture, pearling and mining history, ancient gorges, spectacular waterfalls, rugged wilderness and remote beaches make it an obvious choice for the National Landscapes Program.
“It is a vast wilderness area more than twice the size of my home State, Victoria.
“The National Landscapes Program offers great opportunities for Indigenous training, employment and business development in both tourism and conservation.
“Tourism is a major source of employment across the Kimberley with more than 1500 tourism organisations providing jobs for rangers, pilots, cruise ship crews, chefs and many other trades and professions.
Minister Garrett said: “The Kimberley is a stunning part of Australia, internationally renowned for its vibrant Indigenous culture and unique environment and of course, the world famous Cable Beach.
“The inclusion of the Kimberley in the National Landscapes Program recognises the extraordinary environmental importance of the Kimberley, from the beauty and incredible diversity of the marine environment to the ecological diversity of this huge north-western landscape.
“The Kimberley region now joins destinations such as Australia’s Red Centre, Kakadu and the Australian Alps as part of a program which sees tourism and conservation working in partnership to promote some of the extraordinary natural landscapes that make our country both so unique and such an international tourism drawcard.”
The Ministers made the announcement on a visit to Broome before travelling to Kununurra for the first Kimberley Land Council Ranger Forum, celebrating the important role Indigenous Rangers play in the management and environmental protection of the region.
Through the Government’s Working on Country Program, supported by the Kimberley Land Council, 65 Indigenous Ranger positions at eight communities across the Kimberley, including the Miriuwung Gajerrong Rangers in Kununurra, have been supported, creating employment opportunities for Indigenous people working on country and protecting the unique natural values of the region.
The Ministers congratulated Parks Australia, Tourism Australia, the Kimberley National Landscapes Steering Committee (chaired by Marilynne Paspaley AM), tourism operators and conservation groups for all the hard work they have put in to get the Kimberley ready for inclusion in the Program.
Tourism is a $40 billion industry employing nearly 500,000 Australians and contributing nearly 4 per cent to annual GDP. In Western Australia, tourism directly employs more than 45,000 people and contributes $3 billion to the Western Australian economy each year.
Photos Credit: Tourism Australia