Name: Stephen Wearing
Position title: Associate Professor
Company name: University of Technology Sydney (UTS)
When and why did you join the industry? 1985 – to pursue my interest in leisure, nature and travel and to convey this interest to students at the tertiary level and to research and write about it.
What do you like most about your job?
Teaching and researching in the areas of Volunteer Tourism and Ecotourism
What’s one of the biggest achievements of your career so far?
The establishment of the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve in Cosa Rica for which I received an award from the Costa Rican Government – http://www.monteverdeinfo.com/reserve.htm
The community of Santa Elena borders the Monteverde Conservation Area. Within this region, 310 hectares (765 acres) have been permanently leased by the Santa Elena community high school. The original vision was to use this land for agricultural research and education in Monteverde. However, the farming proved to be unsuccessful, and in 1989, the land was converted into a cloud forest reserve. Together with Youth Challenge Australia which Stephen co-founded) & Youth Challenge International, a Canadian based non-profit organization, the community established an ecotourism reserve, which officially opened on March 1, 1992. The reserve was created out of the community’s desire to both preserve the cloud forest and use tourism as a means to benefit community development. Entrance fees go to protecting and managing the reserve, as well as providing higher quality education for the schools of Monteverde. The Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve of Monteverde is one of the first community administered reserves in the country (in the sense that it is not a national park, but under the protection of the Arenal Conservation Area). It is an excellent example of what people can do to preserve – and learn from – the environment they live in.
What’s the best advice ever given to you and who gave it?
Take the Lecturing position at Kuirng-gai College of Advanced Education offered in 1985 not the job of Manager of Lane Cove National Park from my mother Professor Betsy Wearing
Who do you admire and see as a role model in the industry?
Emeritus Professor Robert Stebbins for his work on Serious Leisure which has influenced the leisure and travel reseach for many decades.
What can people expect from your company and what sets it apart from the rest? My volunteer role on the Board of the Kokoda Track Foundation (KTF – https://ktf.ngo/) which has seen over the last 14 years major changes for the communities on the Kokoda Track in PNG via ecotourism from trekking. VISION – To be a trusted, caring and innovative organisation contributing to a flourishing PNG, whose people enjoy liberty through unfettered access to healthcare, education and human rights and thrive as a respected nation in the Asia Pacific region. MISSION -To work to improve the wellbeing and futures of the Papua New Guinean people by assisting with education and healthcare, by respecting customs and the environment, by improving livelihoods, by fostering the next generation of leaders, and by keeping the story of Kokoda alive. We do this without discrimination and irrespective of religion, race or political affiliation.
What destinations are on your travel bucket list?
None in my youth we lived in Darwin and spent time in Arnhem Land where one of the elders of the Yolngu People asked me why do you come here don’t you like where you live? So I live where I most would like to travel near the beach and believe very much that the real ecotourist stays at home.
What’s a memorable travel experience you’ve had (good or bad)?
3 month camping in the Canadian Rockies – marvellous place
What are three things you always take with you when travelling?
Backpack, beanie and vegemite
Name someone famous you’d like to travel with and a destination you’d like to go with them.
US President Obama to New York City to see both its good and bad such as homeless people and Central Park
What direction do you see the industry heading in over the next five to ten years?
I see the growth of sustainable or green tourism particularly volunteer tourism