Between 1998 and 2004, a pioneering research program studying Wildlife Tourism in Australia was conducted at the Co-operative Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism, based at Griffith University, Queensland. This program led to a joint initiative between the CRC and Tourism Tasmania to jointly host a Sustainable Wildlife Tourism Convention in Hobart in October 2001.
From that Conference, planning was soon underway to create a national organisation to represent zoos, sanctuaries, wildlife parks and other wildlife operators around Australia, and further the recommendations of the Conference.
In December 2002, the inaugural meeting of the Australian Wildlife Tourism Action Group was held which was soon officially changed to Wildlife Tourism Australia Inc. with a mission statement of promoting the sustainable development of a diverse wildlife tourism industry that supports conservation.
Since then many events have been conducted, including:
- A national workshop of this new industry association was held at Warrawong Earth Sanctuary and Cleland Wildlife Park, South Australia.
- A workshop at Binna Burra and O’Reilly’s guest houses in Queensland during which the Southern Queensland Wildlife Trail was launched by best-selling Australian author and WTA member Bradley Trevor Grieve (“The Blue Day Book” etc.).
- A national conference ‘Getting Real About Wildlife Tourism’ as a joint initiative between WTA and Western Australia’s Forum on Advocating Cultural and Ecotourism (FACET) in Fremantle in 2006.
- A series of workshops and a wildlife expo (in conjunction with the Logan and Albert Conservation Society) in Beaudesert
- A further wildlife expo in Beaudesert in conjunction with the Scenic Rim branch of Wildlife Queensland
- A national workshop at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Gold Coast “Using wildlife for Tourism: opportunities, threats, responsibilities”
- A national workshop in Darwin, NT “Snake as sister, spectacle or scientific object: connecting the dots for wildlife tourism”
- A half-day workshop in Perth in conjunction with an ITSA conference
- A workshop on wildlife tourism in protected areas as an adjunct event associated with the World Parks Congress in Sydney
- A national conference in Geelong, Victoria: “Wildlife Tourism: a Force for Biodiversity Conservation and Local Economies?”
- A half-day workshop on citizen science in tourism, in conjunction with the Australian Citizen Science Association conference in Adelaide
- A workshop in Grafton focussing on potential for wildlife tourism in the Clarence Valley
- A workshop in Sydney “Illegal Wildlife Trafficking: Attacking on All Fronts”
- A national conference in Adelaide “Where the Wild Things Grow”
- A 2-day workshop “Enjoyable, Memorable and Meaningful: Using Wildlife Interpretation to Do it All” at Binna Burra, Qld
- A 2-day workshop in Far North Queensland “Wildlife Interpretation: Into the Future”
- A national conference in Tasmania “Wildlife tourism Values and Challenges: Balancing the Needs of Wildlife, Tourists, Operators and Residents”
- A nature puzzle trail in conjunction with the Australian Citizen Science Association as part of the World Science Forum, Brisbane
WTA continues to work independently as the leader in wildlife tourism in Australia. We developing a network and research toolbox for tour operators and others in the wildlife tourism industry who are conducting or involved with wildlife research . We also continue to lobby government on various wildlife and wildlife tourism issues, develop policies, and add to literature and other resources for both websites. Our Facebook page is becoming increasingly popular with readers from around the world.
Members offering wildlife tours, eco-accommodation, wildlife parks and other relevant products and services are featured on our website and can be searched according to geographic location, product type, animal type, habitat type or activities. Individual members (if they wish) are featured on our members page, with their interests and contact details