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Cumulative visitation and activities of expedition cruise vessels along the Kimberley coast, WA.

du Plessis, Cole (2015) Cumulative visitation and activities of expedition cruise vessels along the Kimberley coast, WA. Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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The Government of Western Australia is currently establishing a series of remote Marine Protected Areas along the Kimberley coast. Road access to this region is very limited but, since the 1980s, small expedition cruise vessels have been taking passengers to explore the Kimberley coast. Nevertheless, managers have little quantitative information on the extent of cruise vessel tourism in the Kimberley region. By means of a desktop study of advertised vessel itineraries, this study collated data on the number and characteristics of the expedition vessels operating during 2015, the sites visited along the Kimberley coast and estimated the numbers of vessel visits and potential visitors to these sites. Primary information was obtained from the cruise vessel operators via a questionnaire survey with respect to the capacity at which vessels operate, passenger participation preferences in off-vessel activities, provision of information to visitors and any relationships that exists between vessel operators and the Traditional Owners. The desktop analysis revealed that 22 cruise vessels operated along the Kimberley coast in 2015. Most of the vessels are small and accommodate <20 passengers. From the advertised itineraries of the cruise vessels, it was revealed that > 80 sites were visited with Horizontal Falls, Montgomery Reef and Raft Point subject to the most vessel visits (> 200) and potential visitors (>6,000). The vessel operators indicated that the preferred activities of cruise vessel passengers were walking/exploring, swimming and visiting rock art sites. Additionally, the survey revealed that, while some vessels have natural history/cultural guides, most rely on the experienced crew to impart information about the Kimberley to their passengers. Many of the activities offered by the cruise vessels involve onshore activities on the lands of the Traditional Owners but there was little evidence of formal relationships between the operators and the Traditional Owners. This project has provided updated information on cumulative visitation to sites along the Kimberley coast and can serve to guide managers of the new Marine Protected Areas with respect to areas where potential impacts from visitors could occur.

Publication Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Supervisor: Beckley, Lynnath
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