Background

The Inaugural Global Geotourism Conference ‘Discover the earth beneath our feet’ was held in Fremantle, Western Australia from 17-20 August 2008 (www.promaco.com.au/2008/geotm). Over 220 delegates from 30 countries participated in the conference which was held to broaden our knowledge of geotourism and introduce the concept of geoparks to Australia.

The conference was hosted by the Forum Advocating Cultural and Eco Tourism (www.facet.asn.au) in WA and was endorsed by UNESCO. Amongst the fifteen keynote speakers from eight countries was the New Zealand Minister of Tourism, the Superintendent of the Grand Canyon National Park, USA, and the Director of Tourism Development, Oman Ministry of Tourism. In addition another 60 papers were presented from a number of countries.

During the conference Australia was presented with a plate to recognise its first UNESCO Global Geopark, Kanawinka, which stretches across South Western Victoria and Southeast South Australia (www.kanawinkageopark.com). The conference concluded that Geotourism is an emerging form of tourism with much import for Australia, especially with the recent release of the National Landscapes Program by Tourism Australia and Environment Australia (www.tourism.australia.com.au).

Resulting from the Conference is a 478 page Book of Proceedings containing details of the conference program as well as a large number of papers. The proceedings from the inaugural Conference are currently being published in two books and will be available for purchase at the Mulu Conference.

At the close of the conference it was announced that the Second Global Geotourism Conference would be held in Sarawak from 17-20 April 2010 (www.sarawaktourism.com).

The Mulu Conference

The Second Global Geotourism Conference will be held in Mulu, Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia from 17-20 April 2010 (www.sarawaktourism.com). It will follow on from, and be closely connected with, the 4th International UNESCO Conference on Geoparks ‘Geoheritage Education for Sustainability’ being held in Langkawi from 10-15 April 2010, Peninsula Malaysia.

The second conference should be a hallmark event for Sarawak as it promises to capitalise on the highly successful Inaugural Conference, and it will set a benchmark for the tourism industry in relation to the development, management and marketing of landscapes. Geotourism describes the resources, activities and management of visitor activity centered on rock exposures, landforms and fossils in a wide variety of natural landscapes.

In discussing and engaging all aspects of geotourism this conference should highlight its status as a conservation tool, educational process and nature-based tourism activity. Moreover, an understanding of the ‘form-process’ link that is important in geology can be delivered via geotourism and the consequences of geological landforms and activities on our lives can thus be better understood.

The unique conference should include case studies which will showcase the issues involved in the management and care of such attractions, and cover topics such as sustainability, impacts and environmental issues.

The inaugural conference host was the Forum Advocating Cultural and Eco Tourism (FACET) in Western Australia. FACET is a network and information resource organisation for people with an interest in cultural and natural tourism. Formed in 1992 it hosts an annual conference which focuses on topics related to its charter.

The conference is being hosted by the Sarawak Tourism Board, Sarawak, Malaysia. Advisors to the Conference are Resolve Global Pty Ltd, Australia (www.resolveglobal.com.au) whose directors were involved in the organisation of the first conference in Perth, Western Australia. Resolve Global will offer advice in regard to staging the event, the provision of networks of contacts, access to speakers, planning of the event, marketing it, and emceeing the conference throughout.

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