Eco-cultural tourism – what should be the role of governments?

Crawford School of Public Policy | Executive course
Policy Fundamentals


A deep understanding of Natural Resource Management (NRM) is crucial to the effective management of the system. Throughout the program participants will be guided by experts in the field to plan strategic policy interventions and broaden their knowledge of NRM to skilfully identify opportunities free from path dependence, ethical dimensions and manage NRM contracts and relationships.



Course overview


The Australian tourism industry is a major generator of wealth and employment and a leading earner of foreign income. But tourism is a source of tensions, in addition to money and jobs, not least because most tourism involves people travelling within their own country. World Heritage sites and national parks are a major component of the Australian tourism industry but are also central to the way Australians think about themselves, even if most live in places that are very different. Museums promote national pride but also raise raw questions about future public policy priorities. As a primary arena for contact between cultures and with other species, tourism’s extreme focus on pleasure, often in circumstances of inequality, can result in uncomfortable challenges for travellers.


Responses include support for ecotourism as one of the fastest growing sectors. It comes in many forms but easily lends itself to green washing. Then there is poverty alleviation. World-wide, in twenty of the poorest 48 nations, tourism is either the first or second earner of foreign income and the World Tourism Council argues that it is a powerful force reducing world poverty. What pre-conditions are needed for that to be true? Who benefits and who pays the costs of major tourism development projects? Does tourism change the way in which the host communities see themselves? How should tensions between tourism and mining, agriculture and urban and coastal development be managed? What are the challenges for the social welfare, education and health sectors? Does tourism promote corruption? How successful are certification programs in promoting sustainability and socially responsible behaviour? Given all this what should be the role of governments – in Australia and elsewhere?

Learning outcomes:

  • Understanding the tensions between growing ecotourism and degrading the resource that underpins it
  • Develop criteria for assessing the value for different policy options relating to expanding ecotourism
  • Establish a framework of what successful ecotourism should be in Australia

Updated:  26 October 2021/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team