The Australia, China and the Great Outdoors 2014 Forum builds on the success of the 2013 Workshop held at The University of Western Australia on 27 September 2013.


That 2013 Workshop gathered scholars and representatives from government, nongovernment, industry and grassroots sectors in both Australia and China to share experiences and discuss issues of common concern arising from the growth of Chinese engagement in outdoor pursuits and ecotourism initiatives.

Two clear conclusions were made at the Workshop: 1) that Australia’s experience and development of best practice was highly relevant and applicable to China’s current situation; 2) that Australia has great potential to attract inbound Chinese ecotourists, who are also the main body likely to serve as advocates for change in their home country.

It was therefore decided to schedule a follow-up Forum for December 2014, which would take place in China and therefore have the advantage of being more accessible to Chinese representatives from both government and nongovernment sectors.

Theme

The theme for the 2014 Forum is ‘Culture, Nature and Sustainability’. This theme recognises the important place of ‘culture’ in outdoor activities. This is particularly pertinent to China where popular destinations for outdoor and ecotourism activities often take place within or alongside significant cultural zones. The forum organisers believe that outdoor enthusiasts and ecotourists should not only work towards promoting and developing sustainable activities in nature but also cultivate a respect for local cultures as well.

Site Visit

The final day of the Forum will consist of a Site Visit to review the feasibility of a ‘Test Project for Sustainable Hiking’ in the Baoshan area. The site is located in the Gaoligong Mountain Range Nature Reserve and includes significant natural and cultural heritage, including a well preserved portion of ancient path that is part of the Southern Silk Road.

Location

The venue and hosting arrangements are being made through the generous support of the Baoshan City Museum and Cultural Relics Bureau. Baoshan is located in southwest China’s Yunnan Province and is rich in cultural heritage and nature-based tourism resources.

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About The OP

About The OP


The Outdoors Partnership is a cooperative enterprise founded in the wake of the 2013 Australia, China and the Great Outdoors Workshop. Its mission is to build on the foundations laid by that meeting, fostering dialogue, creative thinking, and action on issues of common concern to lovers of outdoor activities, and to the government and nongovernmental bodies and commercial enterprises involved in supporting, promoting and protecting such activities.

Objectives

  • Promote research exchange and transfer on issues concerning outdoor tourism management and development
  • Facilitate academia-industry partnerships to enhance knowledge, promote sustainability, grow participation in outdoor tourism

Outcomes

  • Better management and sustainability of China’s outdoor natural assets especially areas of high ecological and cultural value
  • More two-way tourist growth between Australia and China to experience the wonders of the natural world

Founders

The Founders are friends and outdoor enthusiasts:

  • Dr Gary Sigley, Professor of Asian Studies at the University of Western Australia who has been researching and observing China for over two decades. Visit his blog ChinaWatch2050 for more on his observations.
  • Dr Ed Jocelyn, proprietor Red Rock Treks, Yunnan China, and independent researcher
  • Warwick Powell, Chairman, Sister City Partners Limited, a not-for-profit investment banking enterprise. He has also been an avid researcher and observer of China and blogs infrequently at StreetlifeChina.

Research & Education


Roundtables & Exchanges

As part of its objectives to promote research exchange and industry-academia collaboration, the Outdoors Partnership hosts roundtable discussions and other exchange forums in China and Australia. These roundtables usually involve representatives of the local tourism industry, government and public authorities and relevant academic researchers.

Townsville Roundtable, August 2014

Our most recent Roundtable was held in August 2014 in Townsville, North Queensland. With the generous assistance of Simon Millcock of the Townsville City Council, the OP hosted a group of industry, government and academic researchers for an afternoon of discussions around China and Northern Australia Outdoor Tourism. The Roundtable heard from Ms Patricia O’Callaghan (General Manager, Tourism and Events, Townsville Enterprise Limited), Mr Simon Millcock (Senior Economic Development Officer, Townsville City Council), Associate Professor Jiang Yan (visiting scholar, James Cook University) and our very own Professor Gary Sigley (University of Western Australia).

A broad range of issues was canvassed at the Workshop including the demographic characteristics of Chinese middle class consumers and their leisure activities, and their attitudes towards leisure and spare time. Associate Professor Jiang Yan’s paper on her primary research on Chinese leisure consumers in Hangzhou was eye-opening and provided participants with a great deal of insight into the nitty-gritty of Chinese leisure activity.

We also heard about the recently released North Queensland Destination Tourism Strategy (Pat O’Callaghan), in which a focus on developing an ecotourism strategy was identified for the near future. Simon Millcock was at the time, aside from assisting the Roundtable, in mad preparations for an impending visit to Townsville’s sister city in China (Changshu) where tourism development matters were on the agenda. Last but not least, Gary provided some insights on his research findings concerning the emerging “donkey friends” phenomenon as part of China’s recent “rediscovery of nature”.

A lively and informative discussion was held at the Townsville Roundtable, August 2014

A lively and informative discussion was held at the Townsville Roundtable, August 2014

 

Papers & Presentations

The founding partners of the Outdoors Partnership are active researchers in their own right, and frequently publish their work in both peer-reviewed academic publications and more general lay-publications.

General Publications and Presentations

  • Hiking Yunnan’s Ancient Trails: The 2014 Australia-China and The Great Outdoors Forum (published in 茶马古道 magazine, August 2014)

Peer Reviewed Publications

Books

  • Jocelyn E. and A. McEwan (2006) The Long March

Projects


Annual Forum


2014 Forum: Culture, Nature and Sustainability

The Australia, China and the Great Outdoors 2014 Forum builds on the success of the 2013 Workshop held at The University of Western Australia on 27 September 2013. That Workshop gathered scholars and representatives from government, non-government, industry and grassroots sectors in both Australia and China to share experiences and discuss issues of common concern arising from the growth of Chinese engagement in outdoor pursuits and ecotourism initiatives. The objectives of the workshop were twofold: 1) to better understand the opportunities and challenges facing the rapid growth of outdoor tourism and recreation in China and how Australia might get involved by sharing its experience and providing expertise; and 2) to consider ways to attract Chinese outdoor enthusiasts as tourists to enjoy Australia’s diverse array of international standard ecotourism and outdoor tourism products.

Attendees came from Western Australia, Queensland, mainland China and Taiwan. Topics covered by presentations included trail design, national park management, ecotourism marketing and operations, ecotourism project work in China, and the social and environmental impact of outdoor tourism in China.

Two clear conclusions were made at the Workshop: 1) that Australia’s experience and development of best practice was highly relevant and applicable to China’s current situation; 2) that Australia has great potential to attract inbound Chinese ecotourists, who are also the main body likely to serve as advocates for change in their home country. It was therefore decided to schedule a follow-up Forum for December 2014, which would take place in China and therefore have the advantage of being more accessible to Chinese representatives from both government and nongovernment sectors.

While broadening the scope of potential attendance, the 2014 Forum will also build on connections made and ideas mooted at the 2013 Workshop to discuss specific project areas that can be the subjects of collaborative action.The objects of the 2014 Forum should be seen as: a) identifying specific and achievable goals, and b) identifying pathways towards achieving those goals.

The theme for the 2014 Forum is ‘Culture, Nature and Sustainability’. This theme recognises the important place of ‘culture’ in outdoor activities. This is particularly pertinent to China where popular destinations for outdoor and ecotourism activities often take place within or alongside significant cultural zones. The forum organisers believe that outdoor enthusiasts and ecotourists should not only work towards promoting and developing sustainable activities in nature but also cultivate a respect for local cultures as well.

The final day of the Forum will consist of a Site Visit to review the feasibility of a ‘Test Project for Sustainable Hiking’ in the Baoshan area. The site is located in the Gaoligong Mountain Range Nature Reserve and includes significant natural and cultural heritage, including a well preserved portion of ancient path that is part of the Southern Silk Road. The venue and hosting arrangements are being made through the generous support of the Baoshan City Museum and Cultural Relics Bureau. Baoshan is located in southwest China’s Yunnan Province and is rich in cultural heritage and nature-based tourism resources.

2013 Inaugural Workshop: Australia, China and the Great Outdoors

On Friday 27th September 2013 the workshop on ‘Australia, China and the Great Outdoors: Leadership, Best Practice, and the Future of Outdoor Leisure and Ecotourism’ was held in Perth at The University of Western Australia. As far as we are aware this was the first international workshop with an exclusive Austraila/China focus to explore such themes. Workshop participants came from a number of Australian and Chinese universities, including The University of Western Australia, Murdoch University, Griffith University, Althena University (Tainan, Taiwan) and the Southwest Forestry University (Yunnan, China). There were also representatives from the Western Australian Department of Parks and Wildlife, the Bibbulmun Track Foundation and Leave No Trace Australia. The commercial sector was represented by commercial ecotourism providers from Southwest China (Redrock Treks and Zouba Tours) and Southwest Western Australia (Out of Sight Tours). Last but not least the workshop also benefited from participants from grass-roots walking clubs in both Western Australia and China. Thanks to all the participants for taking the time to attend and giving valuable contributions. Maya, one of the participants from Shenzhen, China, has written an extensive report (in Chinese) on the event (the report, running for six pages and containing many comments from other Chinese outdoor enthusiasts, contains many images so even without Chinese language skills you have an idea of what was going on).

Together we explored the many challenges facing outdoor tourism in Australia and China. As a more developed nation with decades of experience in managing ‘the outdoors’, Australia has a great deal to share with China in this field. Hopefully China can avoid mistakes in this area by studying the experiences of other countries. Australia can also benefit in the long term by attempting to better understand the mindset and habits of Chinese hikers, a potential large source of inbound ecotourists. These two themes – sharing world’s best practice and exploring the possibilities of getting Chinese outdoor enthusiasts to Australia – were the main workshop objectives.

With assistance from our sponsors and support from the Great Southern Development Commission, Ed and myself took our ‘donkey friend’ visitors from China on a special guided study tour. In addition to visiting some of the key ecotourism features of this region we also hiked for four days on the Bibbulmun Track. The discussions and interactions amongst ourselves and with the other hikers and track maintenance volunteers we encountered along the way were worth their weight in gold. Our Chinese colleagues seemed to be very impressed and inspired by the high quality of the trail and infrastructure provided, not to mention the hospitality of the locals (many thanks again to Lenore and David of Out of Sight Tours). Upon returning to Perth we also spent some time talking to staff in the Bibbulmun Track office and learned more about how it operates. Many thanks to Gwen for giving us the ‘guided tour’. Our Chinese visitors walked away with lots of food for thought.

 

The Outdoor Blog


Australia, China and the Great Outdoors

Australia, China and the Great Outdoors

As we enter 2014 I find myself on the back foot with a number of 2013 tasks still waiting resolution. Usually at this time of year I would be in Yunnan conducting fieldwork and in time providing you with updates …

Read ‘Australia, China and the Great Outdoors’
‘Avoiding Donkeys': Critical Reflections on China’s Outdoor Leisure Culture

‘Avoiding Donkeys': Critical Reflections on China’s Outdoor Leisure Culture

In this post I present an English translation of an essay by Yang Xiao (杨肖), one of China’s top outdoor adventure specialists. As someone who has been involved in the Chinese outdoor adventure industry since its earliest days, Yang Xiao has seen the rise and rise of ‘donkey culture’ …

Read ‘‘Avoiding Donkeys': Critical Reflections on China’s Outdoor Leisure Culture’
Introducing the Donkey Friends (Chinese Hikers)

Introducing the Donkey Friends (Chinese Hikers)

Travel for leisure and recreation has always been an important activity in China. With mountain ranges as far as the eye can see and myriad streams and lakes the country is heavily endowed with many places of great natural beauty. Scholars and poets have been waxing lyrical for centuries about the landscape, weaving in the human presence amongst the enormity of nature (such writing is categorised as ‘travel record literature’, 游记文学). …

Read ‘Introducing the Donkey Friends (Chinese Hikers)’
The Southern Silk Road

The Southern Silk Road

From the 17 – 21 November 2012 I traveled – with Dr Ed Jocelyn – to Baoshan (宝山) and Tengchong (腾冲) in western Yunnan Province (云南省) to explore a remnant section of the ancient Southern Silk Road over the Gaoligong Mountains (高黎贡山) …

Read ‘The Southern Silk Road’

Contact


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