A Tasmanian innovation that tracks tourist behaviour is set to star at a United Nations-led international symposium in Africa on conservation tourism.
University of Tasmania senior lecturer Dr Anne Hardy has been invited to Chobe, Botswana, by the UN’s World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to showcase the Tourism Tracer project, which she leads.
Tourism Tracer is a flagship research program within Tasmania’s Institute for the Study of Social Change, drawing on the expertise of researchers from across the University. It is funded by the University, the Department of State Growth, the Federal Group and the Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania.
Since early 2016 it has been tracking the movements of visitors to Tasmania, to help operators, industry bodies and government respond to demand and plan for a forecast rise in tourist numbers.
With Tasmanian company Ionata Digital, the research team has gathered the ongoing research into an online tool, the Tourism Tracer dashboard, which is constantly updated as new visitor movements are recorded.
Dr Hardy has been asked to deliver a presentation at the International Symposium of the Sustainable Tourism Programme, which will explore how evidenced-based data can inform policy design and encourage more sustainable management in national parks and conservation areas.
“I am thrilled and honoured that an innovation from the University of Tasmania has been recognised on the world stage,” Dr Hardy said.
“Our research in Tasmania has demonstrated that we can now understand the precise movement of tourists within national parks. We have worked out who uses overcrowded car parks during peak visitation times; we can understand who does and does not walk on hiking trails. And we can tell where tourists went prior to their visit to the national parks. This data can be used by park managers to create very focused visitor behaviour strategies and policies, that have not been possible before.”
2017 is the International Year of Sustainable Tourism and the symposium will be held in the middle of one of the worlds’ most spectacular and biologically diverse conservation areas, Chobe National Park.
The UNWTO will also host its annual conference on December 8 2017, at which participants will collectively develop the Kasane Call for Action to accelerate sustainable consumption and production in the tourism sector globally.
“It is a real thrill to be involved in an event that will have a global impact in the form of a legacy document,” Dr Hardy said.
Dr Hardy is a senior lecturer within the Tasmanian School of Business and Economics and Director of the Tourism Research and Education Network (TRENd).