Date of this Version


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Conference Paper

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Burgin, S., & Hardiman, N. (2014). Mountain biking: An opportunity to enhance economic development in Australian rural areas? Paper presented at the Australian Regional Development Conference. 15-17 October, 2014. Albury.

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© Copyright, Association for Sustainability in Business Inc., 2014

2014 HERDC submission




Mountain biking is assumed to have originated in California as a distinct recreational activity in the 1970s. By 2005, approximately 10 million Americans participated, and in 2006-2007 mountain/hybrid bikes represented 44% unit sales through speciality bicycle retailers. Subsequently, the popularity of the sport has continued on an upward trajectory. Such upward trend has also occurred in Australia. In other countries participation in mountain biking also continues to grow, and the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) is now represented in 17 countries including the United States of America (US), Australia, Canada, United Kingdom (UK), Spain, and Mexico. Demand for purpose-built facilities such as single track trails, and bike parks for freeriding/trials are also increasing internationally. For example, in US locations (e.g., Moab, Utah; Fruita, Colorado) hundreds of kilometres of single track mountain bike trails are available. In Canada, alpine resorts (e.g., Whistler Blackcomb) offer over 200 km of trails for mountain biking and, for some resorts, summer mountain biking provides 75% of the winter snow recreation revenue. The largest mountain biking resort complex in the UK (7Stanes) has around 600 km of single track trails of varying levels from ‘easy’ to ‘severe’, and mountain biking has had a marked economic impact on the economically depressed areas where it has been introduced. In Australia and New Zealand, many state, regional or local governments have recognised the economic potential of destination-based cycle tourism and are profitably promoting long-distance cycle routes such as Victoria’s 100 km ‘Murray to the Mountains’ rail trail. Albury-Wodonga Region offers a wide range of potential destinations for bikers at all levels of expertise that encompass mountains, country lanes, history, wineries, agricultural landscapes, and the weir. Based on the success of mountain biking ventures internationally, and to date in Australia, there is the potential for substantial additional economic gains in rural regions of Australia from this activity. In this paper we provide a background on existing international successes, and use the Albury-Wodonga Region as an example to discuss potential additional opportunities for economically successful mountain biking in Regional Australia.



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