Guest post by Mark Matthews, Chief Executive of Advance Cairns (Australia)
ON YOUR BIKE….!!!
Mountain biking has experienced rapid growth over the past 20 years as riders seek out new trails and new experiences.
And some communities are seeing how recreation cycling has turned around the town’s economics.
Take for instance the town of Derby, in Australia’s island state of Tasmania, which has seen an economic turnaround since the trails were developed.
Before the work started, the shops were all closed, no houses had been bought or sold for years and no hope for the future.
Now there is an economy that will top $15m in the next year, creating new jobs, business and property sales.
See a video preview here: http://tinyurl.com/DerbyTASmtb
There are some key elements to Cycle Tourism success. Here are a few:
- A potential trail network. This could be hilly tracks, disused rail lines or a stunning scenery waiting for a trail to develop.
- The proximity of the trails to an economic centre, with available food and accommodation, allows riders to stay and spend.
- Well marked trails with facilities such as toilets and wash pads at the trail heads.
- Rider-friendly businesses that provide for secure bike storage.
Trails don’t always have to be ‘nail biting white knuckle’ experiences. Mixed trails that provide for mountain bikes, walking, and horse trails can leverage your scenic beauty to economic benefit.
Just think about the tracks and trails you used to follow when you were young. These were the adventure paths that could become an economic path for the future.
I guess if you live in an area that’s generally ‘flat’, you may think that there is little opportunity for development in your town. Don’t give up just yet, because you may be on the road to somewhere where there is a series of trails, and you can still benefit as an enroute stop, known for its businesses that are bike friendly and provide security for bikes.
You may also want to consider how your town can link with others in your region to provide a network of trails to broaden the experience.
In Australia’s Tropical North Queensland, there are six trail networks within an hour of each other, that enhance the rider experience and encourage longer stays in the region.
See here for info: http://www.ridecairns.com
Mountain bikers are usually well travelled, like to stay in good accommodation, and bring family and friends to ride and stay together. So there is more than just riding on a dirt trail in the hills.
And it’s more than just making a track and crossing the fingers. Developing a plan that includes business and the community, a variety of well-marked trails, and a cycle friendly business approach will see the rewards of this ever growing fraternity.
Mark Matthews is the Chief Executive of Advance Cairns, the economic development organisation for Tropical North Queensland Australia.