The visitors from Indonesia’s Gili Matra Islands are in town - as part of a collaborative leadership project aimed at marrying Australian expertise with Indonesian tourism leaders and decision makers - to learn about best practices in integrated coastal and marine management from two of the Fraser Coast’s leading tourism operators - Kingfisher Bay Resort and Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort.
The University of the Sunshine Coast’s (USC) Dr Gayle Mayes* and Associate Professor Bill Carter* have designed the visit, under the university’s ‘Australian Leadership Award Fellowship’ (ALAF) plan*.
Dr Mayes said the aim of the three-week famil was to build a knowledge base of industry best practice and to assist the group in developing sustainable and integrated approaches to coastal and marine tourism development and resource management.
“Last year I was fortunate to visit Lombok – a small group of Indonesian islands with fringing coral reefs - with a group of academics, with the aim of developing collaborative education and research projects with operators back in Australia,” Dr Mayes said.
“What we found is that the tourism development of Gili Matra has far surpassed the carrying capacity of the island; tourism management and development are unregulated; and there is minimal compliance with marine conservation practices, which has resulted in marine life being fished out.”
“We have previously achieved success with a similar ALAF program with the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism and plan to deliver a tourism mentoring project - with the support of AusAID Federal Government funding – that will showcase world’s best practice and offer sustainable and workable solutions for Gili Matra.”
“It’s a win-win for everyone,” she said.
The delegation, from the Nusa Tenggar Barat province, has spent the past week meeting with academics and state government representatives; this next phase will showcase industry best practice.
During their time on the Fraser Coast, the group will be taken on a series of back-of-house tours incorporating Kingfisher Bay Resort’s worm farm, waste management and recycling station and Lady Elliot’s solar diesel hybrid power station and climate change adaption and interpretation trail.
Lady Elliot’s Managing Director, Peter Gash, said he understood that sustainable coastal and marine tourism practices, including marine vessel management, were high on the agenda for the visit.
“It’s fitting that the Fraser Coast is showcasing best environmental tourism practices in an environment that is not dissimilar to Indonesia” he said.
“Our team will be talking to the group about ecologically sustainable tourism practices and some of the eco initiatives that we have introduced on Lady Elliot Island”.
And on Fraser Island, Head Ranger Colin Anderson said environmental interpretation was a key tenet in Kingfisher Bay Resort’s environmental philosophy and the resort group had jumped at the chance to share their eco-tourism ‘know how’ with such an enthusiastic audience.
“We look forward to sharing our approach to the sustainable management of our resort on Fraser Island and to seeing the positive results of this mentoring for the people of Gili Matra,” he said.
The group will also visit Hamilton Island (chosen as it has a school and a stable community) and Moreton Island (as it is relatively close to a large CBD district) and will spend time on Fraser Island’s Central Station and Lake McKenzie during their time in Australia.
* Dr Gayle Mayes is a Lecturer in Tourism Leisure and Events Management. Associate Professor Bill Carter is Associate Director of the Sustainability Research Centre. The ALAF program and tour are supported by staff from the USC International Projects Group that won a national award last week for its outstanding work in developing and conducting more than 22 of these international programs in collaboration with academic staff.
Background – The Kingfisher Bay Resort Experience