- More than 200 key decision-makers come together at three-day trails forum
- Forum to focus on recovery, resilience and recreation
- WA's trail industry has experienced significant growth during COVID-19
- More than $20 million invested in Great Southern trails and National Park amenities through the McGowan Government's WA Recovery Plan
Western Australia's biggest-ever trails forum is being held in Albany today to discuss how the state can harness the economic potential of some of our fastest growing pastimes - hiking, trail running and mountain biking.
Key decision-makers from government, the not-for-profit sector and businesses will come together to discuss 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 per cent in the four years to June 2020, while mountain biking grew 61.4 per cent 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 McGowan 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.
Comments attributed to Sport and Recreation Minister Tony Buti:
"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.
"This year the forum is reflecting a focus on the personal and industry impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the role of trails and recreation in recovery and resilience.
"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."
Comments attributed to Environment Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson:
"The McGowan Government is investing in trails across the state, committing more than $20 million in Great Southern trails and National Park amenities.
"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."
Comments attributed to Albany MLA Rebecca Stephens:
"Albany, and the wider Great Southern region, is arguably the hiking capital of Western Australia and that reputation will continue to grow with our continued investment.
"Bringing the wider trail industry to Albany will be a great opportunity to share ideas and build on the great things achieved for hiking, trail running and mountain biking over the past few years."
Sport and Recreation Minister's office - 6552 6400
Environment Minister's office - 6552 5900