Some of the Canberra community’s favourite recreational pursuits include mountain biking or hiking through one of the ACT’s many nature parks or reserves. However, fewer Canberrans and visitors to the capital and surrounding regions have been travelling to these areas to engage with nature because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tourism dependent economies such as the NSW South Coast have struggled through the pandemic as tourists who would have otherwise visited for walks on pristine beaches or hikes along nature trails remained at home.
But a consulting firm is seeking to help local economics and regional areas by releasing a set of regional trail guidelines to encourage local governments and community organisations to bring back visitors in a sustainable way.
Recreational Trail Planning, Design and Management Guidelines has been released by consulting firm TRC after regional areas were hit particularly hard throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown period, which stripped millions of dollars out of local tourism industries and holiday based economies.
The recreational trail guidelines dossier covers all aspects of trail planning, including mountain bike strategies, iconic multi-day walk product development, trail master plans and feasibility studies.
It also helps communities and governments integrate cycleways, rail trails and driving trails into their plans, which can help them assess the economic benefits of which trail to develop and where.
“Our hope is that the new guidelines will help the tourism industry and communities to develop compelling and sustainable recreational trail experiences to attract visitors back into their region as we come out of COVID-19 restrictions,” said TRC director Janet Mackay.
“With increasing global investment in trail infrastructure, upgrades and new developments need to be competitive to attract visitors and to generate economic and employment opportunities in a region.”
Now is a good time for the tourism industry to begin planning and investing in the future to help fragile tourism sectors recover from the economic challenges of COVID-19, said Ms Mackay.
For a copy of the guidelines, visit the TRC website.