International tourism guru to explore Mid West opportunities

Picture: Chapman River Friends The Mid West region’s largely under-realised tourism potential may soon get a boost following the Mid West Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MWCCI) securing a visit by Dr Richard Benfield from the Central Connecticut State University in the USA, who will conduct a workshop “Wildflowers and Garden Tourism” during his whirlwind trip to Western Australia.

According to Dr Benfield, more people visit gardens in the USA than go to Disneyland and Disneyworld combined. Although garden tourism is one of the fastest growing tourism activities it is often not understood and poorly promoted.

“The links between garden tourism and marketing of the wildflowers as a major feature of the outstanding natural environment of the Mid West region are obvious,” stated Dr Benfield

“And I look forward to engaging with local governments, tourism operators and all businesses and environmental organisations with and interest in promoting the magnificent and renowned flora of the region."

Richard is the author of the book "Garden Tourism”, the only book that looks at this tourism sector, as well as lecturing on garden tourism, he has travelled the world looking at this tourism sector and addressing audiences on how to develop the industry.

Research indicates that a garden tourist is also a tourist interested in food, heritage and the culture of an area. Western Australia has an ideal opportunity to maximise the tourist opportunities around gardens and our unique flora.

“The Mid West region’s wildflowers already attract international visitors but much greater visitation is possible if correctly promoted, creating a significant opportunity for growing this important sector of the region’s economy,” said MWCCI CEO Rob Jefferies.

The Kalbarri National Park alone boasts 800 species of flowering shrubs but the Mid West region is widely known for its wildflowers. August and September bring the best displays with everlastings, banksias, grevilleas, kangaroo paws , wreath flower, hakea, heath brush and spider orchids all putting on a show.

The Mid West covers approximately 468,712 square kilometers (including offshore islands) or nearly one-fifth of the area of Western Australia and its unpredictable element of the WA wildflower season creates anticipation and excitement every spring, with enthusiasts’ intent on the search for where these illustrious, yet ephemeral delights will emerge.

There is a growing tourism industry surrounding the seasonal search for the elusive wildflower – with genuine reason for specialised local botanists and tour guides who can save visitors time and frustration in locating spots.

To help the journey John Stanley of John Stanley Associates has invited Dr Richard Benfield to visit WA and present three workshops across the State.

The workshops will focus on how tourism can help the local economy, what the visitor is looking for, how to build on the region’s wildflower assets and the lessons we can learn from garden tourism from overseas experiences, and how to apply this to improve the sector in the region and across WA.

If interested in participating in the Mid West workshop to be held on the afternoon of Monday 7th July contact John Stanley by emailing