Transforming working mines into tourist attractions: Conceptual and practical considerations
When tourists visit operational mines, the managers of such sites face the challenge of managing two sometimes conflicting operations, namely an operational mine and a tourist attraction. Indeed, the development of tourism at an operational mine can create conflicts due to incompatible objectives, namely the need for the mine to produce effectively its core product and, at the same time, allowing visitors onto the site. For example, the tourism department may want to bring large groups of tourists to the site and this may conflict with the production department which may want to use more space to increase production. On the other hand, the need to develop site visits as a public relations opportunity may override concerns regarding the associated financial and developmental costs. This chapter considers the concept of industrial tourism at contemporary mines and the key factors from a supply side perspective in the conversion of an operational mine into an attraction, including safety issues and allowing access to visitors of all ages and abilities. The chapter considers the need for adequate and appropriate interpretation to ensure tourists have fulfilling experiences with supporting facilities and services. The chapter considers illustrative case studies of industrial tourism at two Australian operational mines, namely PowerWorks in Victoria and the Super Pit in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.