The program will ultimately help grow cycle tourism in WA. Cycle tourism is a growing and important niche tourism market that can provide a range of economic, social and environmental benefits to regional areas.
Cycle tourism has been identified as an increasingly popular niche market within the global tourism industry. The last 20 years has seen a decline in demand for traditional mass-tourism products (e.g. crowded seaside destinations) as tourists seek more authentic forms of tourism, motivated by their own personal interests'. Increased leisure time, higher disposable incomes, the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle and greater awareness of the environmental impact of activities are the factors behind the emergence of cycle tourism. In Europe cycle tourism is growing at a rate of 4% each year, and is forecast to be worth $10 billion annually by 2020.
There are many examples of the economic benefits that cycle tourism can bring to communities. A few are mentioned below;
• In Britain cycle tourism is estimated to be worth 535 million pounds per year.
• Along Canada's Route Verte in 2006, cyclists spent a total of $134 million.
• The Bodensee Cycle Way, which winds its way around Germany via Austria to Switzerland, attracts 380 000 riders every year and contributes $120 million to the region annually.
• In New Zealand it is estimated that cycle tourism is worth more than cruise ship tourism. In the South Island, cycle tourism is worth $72 million per annum to the economy.
• Domestic cycle tourists in Australia spend an estimated $213 million per year.
NSW leads the way in Australia, hosting the greatest share of domestic and international cycle tourists in 2007. Cycling has become a growing niche in the tourism market with 520,000 cycle tourists visiting NSW in 2007. This was an increase of 18.5 per cent on the previous year.
Regional areas are highly suitable for cycle tourism because they feature varied terrain, appealing scenery and low traffic levels. Cycle tourists in regional areas bring a wide range of benefits to local businesses such as accommodation, food and beverages, groceries, cultural and natural attractions, transport and bicycle-related products and services.
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