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Western Australia forum plans future of state’s trails industry
Western Australia's biggest-ever trails forum being held in Albany today has attracted more than 200 key decision-makers to discuss how the state can harness the economic potential of some of its fast growing activities including hiking, trail running and mountain biking.
This year the forum reflects a focus on the personal and industry impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the role of trails and recreation in recovery and resilience.
Key decision-makers from government, the not-for-profit sector and businesses will be discussing current opportunities and challenges and plan the future of trails and recreation in WA.
Former Olympic pole vaulter and passionate outdoor recreation advocate Emma George will give the keynote address on her personal journey of recovery and resilience.
The forum is part of the ongoing work set out in the Western Australian Strategic Trails Blueprint 2017-2021, a guide for consistent and co-ordinated planning, development and management of quality trails.
It is being held on the back of one of the busiest periods for Western Australia's trail industry, which has experienced considerable growth as more Western Australians holiday at home.
Participation in bushwalking has increased by 45.5% in the four years to June 2020, while mountain biking grew 61.4% for the same period.
The growth in participation has been met with investment by the State Government, with more than $20 million invested in the Great Southern region towards trails and National Park amenities alone through WA Recovery Plan funding.
The Western Australian Government also released its 10-year WA Hiking Strategy in June 2020 as a plan for further growth, while further trails funding has been delivered through programs such as WA Hiking Participation Grants, Regional Economic Development Grants, and election commitments such as the Dwellingup Trails Gap Project.
The forum is delivered by the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries in partnership with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Outdoors Great Southern and the City of Albany.
WA Sport and Recreation Minister Tony Buti notes "for the past 20 years, trails forums have played an important role in providing the sector with an opportunity to remain informed and connected through addressing topical trends and challenges, often around access, planning and participation.
"With participation in trail running, bushwalking, mountain biking and other trail activities growing like never before, today's forum will help harness this advantage and create opportunities that promote and grow hiking in WA to embrace and benefit communities on an economic, tourism and social level."
WA Environment Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson advised that "the popularity and importance of our trails has never been more evident with data showing bushwalking participation has skyrocketed as more Western Australians choose to spend their holidays enjoying our beautiful natural environment.
"The trails forum is a great opportunity for all sectors to come together to explore opportunities to further develop the economic, tourism and recreational potential of this budding industry."
Image Bald Head Walking Track Albany. Credit BIG4
3rd February 2021 - Mountain bike trails upgraded in Margaret River and Perth Hills
2nd September 2020 - New campgrounds and walk trails under construction for Turquoise Coast
2nd July 2020 - New Collie trails completed for mountain bike enthusiasts
22nd May 2017 - Trails blueprint paves way to revitalise regional towns
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