Tourism has been one of the Well-Being Australia's arenas of ministry since its inception and this has taken many different routes - one of which was Australia's Bush Orchestra in Moruya on the NSW south coast.
This experience was a nature walk under a canopy of bell-minar's (Bellbirds) with plaques detailing the stories of great Christian leaders with a steady stream of interested people coming through.
Chaplains in major chain tourist hotels and resorts is another avenue of ministry along with seminars and workshops on the theological and philosophical parameters of tourism as a ministry.
Then the essence of the Laguna Quays Respite missionary cottage on the Whitsundays is that it doubles up as a home base for some tourist excursions which might include the Whitsunday Islands, Peter Faust Dam near Proserpine, Gunyarra WWII secret warfare experiments site, Bowen and its fabulous lookouts, Eungella national firest and its platypus and Crediton's famous dairy district.
So tourism is of great interest to us and therefore where the tourist dollar is spent is also of much fascination as it's never as clear as it might seem.
For some years I served as the Chairman of Moruya Tourism and the only funding that came our way from the Eurobodalla Shire Council was a paltry few dollars to pay for the annual print run of a flyer that was handed out at the supermarkets and the shops in town.
Batemans Bay and Narooma got the bulk of the Eurobodalla Tourism Board funding and yet what those towns had to offer was little different to Moruya, other than they were both on the ocean. Moruya had a river.
Multiply that notion to the major tourism market centres and you have a dog's breakfast of cat-flights for those dollars and what projects and who should have authority over such expenditure.
Railway tourism is huge business. The Ghan and The Indian Pacific, to name just two major tourist trains, cater for the reasonably well healed and mostly the retired.
Today, some railway lines once disbanded are being given a new lease of life for big business (coal, wheat and freight) and sadly these are costing an arm and a leg to bring that back up to speed.
Some railway lines have been converted into cycle tracks which is now being realised by many as having been short sighted. In 2009 Delma my wife and I visited Wahgunyah on the Victorian border with Coorowa where the Victorian line was ripped up for a cycle track. It's now a case of spot the cyclist!
New Zealand is now being faced with such a cycle way proposition for their Napier to Gisborne rail line which has been closed since 2012 after a wash away. There are some 79 bridges, 20 tunnels (one of which is 3.2 kilometres long) along this 200km train track and I for one hope they see some sense in fixing the line and put it back in service.
There is a bit of a trend to close rail lines in New Zealand for cycle tracks, one of which is at the top of mountain up from Dunedin which is a tourist train run. But from there across to Queenstown is now a cycle path once a railway line.
All these issues regarding tourism are as much a matter of public comment for Tourism Ministry as it is for any business or other lobby group. We as Christians need to get involved and express our views – we just might have some very good insights.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html