Nature based tourism provides local communities with economic and social benefits, and benefits the wider Australian economy. Cooperation between the tourism industry, management agencies in and around the World Heritage Area and the community is essential for the long-term success of nature based tourism. With cooperative management, the result is an economically viable industry which recognises the needs of the host community while protecting the long-term ecological health of the World Heritage Area.
Tourism companies which use the World Heritage Area are encouraged to support Australia's duty under the World Heritage Convention to 'protect, conserve, present, rehabilitate and transmit to future generations' the special values of the World Heritage Area. This is achieved by ensuring tourism activities do not harm plants and animals or the local ecology. Nature based tourism is helping to achieve regional, national and international recognition and appreciation of the World Heritage Area. Sometimes it can also contribute directly to rehabilitation of the World Heritage Area through tree planting and maintaining tourism sites.
To improve communication with the industry, the Wet Tropics Management Authority (Wet Tropics) has established a Wet Tropics Tourism Network which meets several times a year. Representatives are drawn from regional tourism associations and the wider industry.
In August 2000 the Wet Tropics released a Nature Based Tourism Strategy to provide the basis for tourism management in the World Heritage Area. The Strategy divides the World Heritage Area into 12 tourism precincts according to their distinctive features and tourism focus. The overall aim is to encourage a dynamic, sustainable and professional nature-based tourism industry in the wet tropics region. The Strategy encourages cooperative partnerships between the tourism industry, managing agencies, indigenous people, conservation groups and the community.
In October 2001 the Wet Tropics released the Wet Tropics Walking Strategy. The strategy identifies over 200 managed walks and potential walks in the region and aims to provide a coordinated approach to walking management throughout the region. More detailed information and downloads are available on the Walking Strategy page. You can search for information about all the individual walks in the World Heritage Area on the Search for a Walk page.
Visitors to the wet tropics region are estimated at about two million each year. These visits may be for tourism, business or other reasons. Visitor surveys have found that domestic travelers account for more than 80% of visitors to Queensland. The tourism industry contributes significantly to the economy at both a local and regional scale. A study on the Economic Values of Tourism in the Wet Tropics was completed in 2007. The gross economic value of tourism directly generated by the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area (without flow on effects) was valued at $426 million.