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The secret ingredient to tourism packaging in Covid and post Covid environments…

If you have ever felt the drain of life and have you said to yourself ‘I need some fresh air’? Well there is more reasons behind this than just getting away from the visibility of the stress. There is actual scientific proof that the outdoor environment helps emotions, moods and overall health and that ‘forest-bathing’ isn’t a fad. And as we start living in a world with an invisible enemy, COVID-19, the Outdoors is also the safest and healthiest place for all of us. It is now also a great way to keep visiting communities safer.

So seek out your destinations Outdoor activities, passive or led, for singles or groups, skill-based and non-skill based and connect them with your destination. Our visitors, as well as all communities, need to connect with nature now more than ever before. And here is why…

Dr Phil Humphris, General Practitioner at Kildare Road Medical Centre who holds a Masters in International Public Health and has undertaken extensive humanitarian work in Ethiopia, the Middle East, and Sudan as a Director of Medecins Sans Frontieres, having first-hand experience with SARS, Ebola and Malaria. He has been assisting Outdoors NSW & ACT to get the word out on the safety of the Outdoors at this time. “While there are still gaps in the knowledge of transmission patterns for COVID-19, the epidemiology of outbreaks and transmission shows ventilation appears to be particularly important. The lack of exchange of air in indoor environments is thought to increase the risk of transmission” explains Dr Humphris.

Another area of concern for our community is the growing mental health issues in all age groups and in particular on our youth. What has lock-down done in this regard, well the statistics are not out yet for the last 6 months, but early indicators are not good. Outdoor education and recreation have a tremendous and essential role in achieving and maintaining physical and mental health, it is also critical to the normal development of children and youth.

“The consequences of halting outdoor activities for all are impossible to measure, however logically we know there are very real lasting, if not permanent, negative outcomes if people do not have access to the great outdoors,” furthered Dr Humphris.

A multitude of studies shows time spent in nature is consistently linked to objective, long-term health outcomes. A 2018 paper by Marsden Jacob & Associates estimated $508 million was saved in lifetime healthcare costs by people participating in outdoor pursuits in NSW alone[1]. The Outdoor Youth Programs Research Alliance (OYPRA) reported from their nine-year study, the sharp rise in youth anxiety and mental health challenges can be improved through participating in outdoor programs[2].

Tom Mulvaney, Psychologist, and Co-Leader of Policy at the Australian Association for Bush Adventure Therapy says, “Access to the outdoors obviously facilitates physical health outcomes, but also facilitates connection to other people, to the world around us, which ameliorates loneliness or isolation.

“There’s a lot of evidence to support young people spending time in nature directly, but there’s a stronger evidence base for those therapeutic outcomes being enhanced when a person’s time in nature is guided by a professional. Guided time in nature has positive outcomes for young people who experience stress, depression, anxiety, social anxiety, relationship issues and so many of those clinical presentations that are on the rise as this pandemic progresses.”

Going outdoors is one cost-effective and safe way to support physical, mental, and social wellbeing and prevent longer-term ill health. Outdoors NSW & ACT are spreading this message far and wide and are connecting audiences with many operators and businesses that lead outdoor education and recreation for a living. You can help and connect your destination with your Outdoor experiences as well.

[1]A Marsden Jacob Report, New South Wales Nature-Based Outdoor Economy, key estimates and recommendations



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