Great to see the Andrews' Government launch their "Your Happy Space" campaign, encouraging Victorians to appreciate our regional backyards.
Regional Victoria has much to offer to cater to the fast growing demand for nature based experiences. Aside from pure enjoyment, the health benefits of nature have been proven to be real, measurable and significant.
The rise and rise of nature tourism - C'mon Victoria!
New Tourism Research Australia data released in July 2018 shows domestic day trips by Australians which included nature based activities, grew 14% across Australia year ending March 2018. This was led by NSW with a whopping 7.66 million, a 19% increase on last year.
In every state, the most popular nature activities for day trippers were bushwalking and visits to National Parks.
Data for overnight trips shows NSW in front again, with over 7 million trips, up 18% on last year.
In all states, bushwalking was the most popular nature activity for over-nighters closely followed by visits to National Parks.
Of the 8.3 million International visitors to Australia (an increase of approx. 7.5% on last year), the majority - 68% - engaged in a nature based activity* at least once.
Victoria's nature based industry already supports 71,000 jobs and $7.4 billion for the state (Marsden Jacobs 2016). However, lagging behind other states, the opportunity for rural Victoria is clear.
It's time to protect and showcase our stunning wetlands, many home to rare and threatened species of birds and recognised internationally for environmental significance.
This is the economic lifeline our small rural towns need.
* nature based activity includes; a visit to National Parks, whale or dolphin watching, bushwalking, scuba diving, snorkelling or visits to a wildlife park or sanctuary.
pictures Wetland, Great Egret, courtesy Eleanor Dilley