Creating sustainable visitor experiences

Wollumbin National Park

Wollumbin (Mount Warning) is a site recognised internationally for its significant natural and cultural values. Located in Northern NSW it is part of the Gondwana World Heritage Area and is a sacred place to the Bundjalung People. The activity of ascending the summit of Wollumbin, particularly during sunrise, became an iconic visitor experience attracting increasingly large numbers of visitors. Increased visitor numbers led to physical degradation of the highly significant cultural site, degradation of World Heritage natural values and major safety concerns including several deaths. This nature-based visitor experience was the almost singular focus of the local visitor economy with few identified alternative nature-based experiences.

This project aimed to identify visitor preferences for alternative experiences to summiting Wollumbin in order to facilitate more diverse regional tourism experiences and to address the significant site limitations of this World Heritage Area. The project team worked closely with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and engaged with key stakeholders to identify a range of potentially suitable alternative nature-based visitor experiences. From this, experience scenarios were developed to then test the preferences of potential visitors.

Overview of Impact

The findings from this research are guiding strategic planning, funding allocation and management approaches, particularly for the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. The work has influenced the drafting of the new Plan of Management for Wollumbin, and become the foundation for a range of concept plans, funding applications and infrastructure investments, most recently (2018) the $7.4 million state government funded Tweed Byron Hinterland Trails project.

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