“Wildlife Tourism: A Force for Biodiversity Conservation and Local Economies?”

Conference Venue – Mercure Hotel, Geelong


 Pre-conference field trip opportunities:

Tuesday  29 September –

  • Koalas and Kangaroos IN THE WILD tour with Echidna Walkabout – returns to Geelong for Welcome Reception
  • 2.00pm – Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre tour – special cultural education afternoon session.

Tuesday 29 September:  Welcome reception – sponsored by Principal Partner Tourism Victoria

6.00 to 8.00pm  –  Waterfront Kitchen at Deakin University, Western Beach Road, Geelong  (free for all delegates registered for 3 days, $35 for others)…   see more information.

Welcome speech by  Chris White, Group Manager Product Marketing, Tourism Victoria


(Please note we may need to make minor alterations)

Coloured titles below link to abstracts          Keynote Speaker names link to bios    

Wednesday 30 September:    International Aspects

  • 8.45 am –   Conference Welcome and information for delegates – WTA Chair (Ronda Green) and Vice Chair (Roger Smith)
  • 9.00 am –  Official opening of conference by the Hon John Eren MP, Victorian Minister for Tourism and Major Events

Chair: Roger Smith

10.15 to 11.00 am – morning tea, networking and viewing of posters and displays

Chair: Ronda Green

12.30 to 2.00 pm – lunch, networking and viewing of posters and displays

Chair: Janine Duffy

Contributed papers: International Aspects  –  Chair: Jennifer Laing

3.45 to 4.15pm afternoon tea,  networking and viewing of posters and displays

Chair: Ronda Green

4.15 pm  Round Table discussion: – “International wildlife travels: opportunities and challenges”

  • What are the main wildlife features attracting Australia to other countries and vice versa?
  • What lesser known wildlife and regions could be better promoted?
  • What are some of the problems involved in opening up new regions to tourism? (e.g. access and facilities for tourists, increasing pressure on natural resources, changes to local lifestyle, illegal wildlife trade) and how can these be tackled by the tourism industry and governments?

5.00 pm – Skype Presentation “Wildlife tours to save nature – What can Australia learn from Sweden?”Marcus Eldh, Wild Sweden 5.30pm Close  – Those who have booked the optional Mt Rothwell guided spotlight walk and bbq dinner will leave venue  (optional field trip extra cost)

 Thursday 1 October:    Value of Wildlife Tourism to Biodiversity and Conservation

  • 8.50am –  Announcements, general information for delegates – Ronda Green and Roger Smith
  • 9.00am –  “Nature-based tourism – the political perspective” Senator Janet Rice, Keynote speaker

Contributed papers: How can wildlife tourism contribute to biodiversity conservation?-  Chair: Jeffrey Skibins

10.30  to 11.15 am  – morning tea, networking and viewing of posters and displays

Chair: Maree Treadwell-Kerr

12.45 to 2.15 pm  lunch,  networking and viewing of displays

Chair: Ronda Green

2.30 pm Round Table Discussion: “Citizen Science by tourists” 

  • How do we assure valid and useful data are collected? How do we assign different tourists to different tasks?
  • How useful are bio-blitzes and how do we involved tourists in them?
  • How can we improve WTA’s research network?

3.15 pm –  Round Table Discussion: “Making a difference (wildlife tourism enhancing conservation)”  

  • What more can wildlife tourism do to enhance biodiversity conservation?
  • What can large operators and micro-businesses do?
  • What can tourism organizations and government departments do?
  • What are some of the obstacles to emulating success stories elsewhere, and how do we overcome them?

4.15 to 4.45 pm afternoon tea,  networking and viewing of displays

Chair: Ronda Green

4.45 pm –  Round Table Discussion:   “Up close and personal? Human-wildlife interactions?” 

  • How close should we get, both in the wild and in captivity?
  • What do already know and what do we need to know to assess what kinds of interaction are acceptable in terms of both animal welfare and conservation?
  • What do we know and what do we need to know about interactions with animals leading to support for their conservation?

5.30 pm –  Close sessions 5.45pm –   Some will drive or walk to Eastern Park to see the Grey Headed Flying Foxes leave their roost

Friday 2 October:    the value of wildlife tourism to local economies

7.15am  – 8.30am Wildlife Tourism Australia Annual General Meeting in Terrace Room at Mercure.  AGM starting at 7.45am.  You can bring your breakfast to the room and network from 7.15am.

Contributed papers: How can wildlife tourism contribute to local communities?  Chair: Janine Duffy

10.15 to 11.oo am  morning tea, networking and viewing of displays

Chair: Aise Kim

12.45 – 1.45 pm lunch,  networking and viewing of displays

Chair: Ronda Green

1.45 pm – Round Table Discussion:  “Solving human:wildlife conflicts with wildlife tourism” 

  • What are the real wildlife problems that people face (danger to crops, human safety, limited access to protected and private areas etc.)?  
  • What problems may be exaggerated?
  • How do we get accurate information to all stakeholders (local residents, politicians, tourism operations, NGO’s)?
  • How can wildlife tourism contribute to solving the problems?

2.30 pm –  Skype presentation How wildlife tourism can benefit the local communities living with wildlife in Kenya Daniel Sambu and Paul Sadera Ole Kilelu from Kenya 3.00 pm – Final Plenary Discussion “Where do we go from here?”  General summary of conference and voting on priority actions.   Suggested actions to follow the conference: lobbying of governments, information to be sent to tourism organisations, travel agents, tourism operations (wildlife or other), new projects, research priorities etc. 4.00 pm –   Close of conference and final afternoon tea and networking

Post-conference field trips –  

more information and more to come

Saturday 3 October

  • Koala Conservation Day in the You Yangs Regional Park

Sunday 4 October

  • **Venus Bay Ecolodge – 2.30pm afternoon guided walk and refreshments
  • **Lantern-lit evening tour – Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park, Pearcedale  
  • Wildlife Journey – 4 days in the wilderness coast of far East Gippsland – with Echidna Walkabout

** can be another time perhaps combined with a Phillip Island or Wilsons Promontory trip

Whenever it suits you –

Check out some of the great opportunities to experience the wildlife and diversity of Victoria and particularly the surrounding area if you are able to spend a bit more time here!

Back to main conference page




NEW - Information for Delegates.

Check out the presenters abstracts in a number of ways

Venue, Accommodation, Transport

Main Conference Page

Keynote Speakers               

Our Sponsors        

Field Trips and Social

Who should attend       

Exhibitors/trade displays  

  • do you have a poster presentation?
  • presentation times are now set so please let us know if anything needs to change!


Volcano Dreaming – 12 metre x 2 metre display focuses on the precarious existence of one of the world’s most endangered ecosystems, the wildflower grasslands of the Victorian volcanic plains.

Round Table Discussions

We will move into small groups, each discussing the questions posed and with a scribe taking notes, then combine in a plenary discussion. Major points and calls to action will be published on the WTA website.

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