What is the Astrotourism Towns Project?
The Astrotourism Towns Project is creating a stargazing trail through WA’s regional communities and promoting the State’s world-class dark night sky asset. Dark sky locations for stargazing are listed on the Astrotourism Towns Map which enables promotion and easy access for “Astrotourists”.
The project aims to:
- increase overnight visitation;
- grow jobs;
- boost the regional tourism economy;
- expand regional business capacity;
- advance Aboriginal Astronomy; and
- bring more astronomy science to regional students.
Alongside the creation of the stargazing trail, regional communities and Astrotourism WA are also working together to facilitate the reduction of light pollution and protect WA’s world-class dark night sky asset for decades to come. This is an important part of the Astrotourism Towns Project. WA is blessed with low levels of light pollution in regional areas and it’s crucial that this is maintained to protect the dark night sky asset as it becomes a valuable mix of the Tourism Industry.
This light pollution on the horizon affects the view of the night sky. It hides the stars and the Milky Way from view.
An Astrotourism Town is…
… a welcoming place where an “Astrotourist” can be confident to find a dark night sky for stargazing, astronomy and astrophotography.
An Astrotourism Town has an observing site where visitors are welcome to bring telescopes, binoculars, or simply their picnic rug to lie back and enjoy a night under the stars.
There’s also an astrophotography hot spot where visitors are welcome to take images of the stunning Milky Way above special landscapes.
Visitors are safe in the knowledge that they are welcome at these places after dark, and the community knows that there might be people with telescopes and cameras turning up for stargazing and astrophotography. Who knows… one day visitors with telescopes and cameras may bump into local enthusiasts and enjoy great conversations about stargazing and the Universe!
Benefits of Being an Astrotourism Town
Being a night time activity, Astrotourism increases the need for visitors to stay overnight, and this delivers more visitor spending into local economies.
Overnight stays lead to increased visitor spending. Tourism WA’s State Tourism Satellite Account 2019-20 estimates that in the year ending September 2020, the average spend by an intrastate daytrip visitor in WA was $115. The average daily spend by an intrastate overnight visitor in WA increased to $118 with a total average spend of $486.
“Astrotourism is a big bonus for regional WA. You can’t stargaze in the city because of light pollution, which means you need to travel to the country. Plus, it’s a night time activity, so a visitor needs to stay overnight. That’s a win-win for WA’s regional tourism economy.” – Carol Redford, CEO, Astrotourism WA
From a community perspective, the project has been building capacity to host and promote stargazing events. This has provided children and family friendly activities where adults can socialise in a non-sporting and alcohol-free environment.
It has also increased knowledge around astronomy, light pollution, what to see in the night sky and WA’s emerging space science industry. Regional residents, Local Government staff, school students and leaders of Community Resource Centres and Visitor Centres in Astrotourism Towns have a great depth of knowledge across these topics.
When we reduce light pollution to look after the night time environment, we make a positive impact for astronomy, stargazing, wildlife and human health.
Dark sky lighting principles are generally cost-neutral and can provide environmental and social benefits including:
- economic benefit from reduced lighting costs;
- environmental benefit from reduced energy consumption;
- improved astronomical observations;
- reduced lifestyle impacts associated with blue light;
- protected nocturnal flora and fauna; and
- improved safety by removing shadows and glare.
Ready to Become an Astrotourism Town?
Astrotourism WA is working with Local Governments to use the dark night sky asset as a catalyst to grow regional tourism.
If your community would like to know more about becoming an Astrotourism Town please contact us using the form below. Alternatively email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Carol Redford, CEO, Astrotourism WA on 0427 554 035.