Dr Young Ng is the Principal Geoscientist of Danxiashan UNESCO Global Geopark of China. He is a pioneer in geotourism, geological heritage conservation and geoparks in the Asia Pacific region and has been awarded various medals for his contributions including the Hong Kong Government’s Medal of Honour in 2012. He is the proposer and advocator of the Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark. Young is experienced in planning, nomination, assessment and revalidation of geoparks and world heritage sites since 2006. He co-authored the ‘Principles of Geotourism’ in 2015 and the ‘Dictionary of Geotourism’ in 2019. His research interests include geotourism, geological heritage conservation, geoparks and sustainable development. Young is currently a member of the advisory committee of the National Geotourism Strategy Reference Group of Australian Geoscience Council, a member of the Geotourism Standing Committee of the Geological Society of Australia and a founding member of the Geotourism Forum of Ecotourism Australia.
Post-Pandemic Geotourism: Why do Chinese Tourists Matter?
In 2019, Australia received 9.4 million visitors, an average of 780,000 per month. It dropped 99% to only 7,600 visitors in July 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic. By the end of August 2020, there is an obvious decrease in new cases and re-opening of state and international borders is therefore foreseeable. This destructive blow to the overall Australia’s tourism industry is unprecedented, especially to ecotourism which Australia is always proud to present. As recovery measure, apart from encouraging local Australians to travel domestically, it is important to be prepared to attract international visitors as soon as the pandemic turmoil is settled and international travel turns safe. With the USA and Europe still struggling to combat the pandemic, China stands out as the most promising market Australia tourism industry can turn to for immediate boost. The country has the fastest recovery from the pandemic and the people are ready to travel, provided international travel restrictions are lifted. China is Australia’s largest tourism market with 1.45 million visitors and spending over A$12.4 billion in 2019, far higher than any other countries such as New Zealand, USA, UK, Japan and India in terms of visitor number and expenditure. Australia’s unique natural landscape, wildlife, culture and its offer of a sense of wilderness and vastness, are certainly the greatest attractions. Chinese tourists matter in the overall recovery of Australia’s tourism industry. This presentation will discuss the approaches and challenges of geotourism as a tool to reopen the Chinese ecotourism market in the post-pandemic period.
Augmenting the Geotourism Experience through New Digital Technologies
In developing a National Geotourism Strategy for Australia, the Australian Geoscience Council has recognised that state-based geotourism maps can be supplemented by publications, as well as consideration of new ICTs (e.g. smartphones, 3D visualisation, augmented reality and virtual reality) and GIS technologies as a cost effective means of accessing and better communicating geological content for tourists throughout regional Australia.
Several groups have formed in Australia to trial these technologies with a view of realising some commercial opportunities with geotourism in mind. In South Australia the Geological Society of Australia has developed field guides for many areas of outstanding geological significance e.g. Hallett Cove, the Flinders Ranges and Victor Harbor amongst the set of 10 guides produced so far, https://www.gsa.org.au/Public/Publications/Field_Guides/
The Geological Survey of South Australia is likewise producing interactive, online Google Earth-based, Discovery Trails as virtual geotours https://discoverytrails.sarig.sa.gov.au/ while at the University of South Australia the Project LIVE (Learning though Immersive Virtual Environments) http://projectlive.org.au/ initiative is highlighting some significant outback areas with interactive virtual geotours, including drone and field video recording, 360 degree GigaPan panoramas and a range of other interpretive materials.
Danxiashan UNESCO Global Geopark of China has been working closely with DJI Technology, the world’s largest manufacturer of aerial photography systems, in applying drones to locate, identify, map and monitor geohazards, bush fire, illegal land use, forest clearance and vegetation growth in the geopark. It is cost and time effective particularly in the preliminary survey of a large area.
These technologies will impact on future geotourism/ecotourism product development.