Regional Community Entrepreneurship through Tourism: The Case of Victoria’s Rail Trails

How to cite this study

Beeton, S. 2010. Regional community entrepreneurship through tourism: the case of Victoria’s rail trails. International Journal of Innovation and Regional Development 2(1-2): 128-148.


This study summarizes the spending patterns and travel characteristics of respondents cycling on the Murray to the Mountains trail in Australia. A comparison of results to the author’s previous 2003 study on the same trail found that the overall economic contribution per person per trip grew from AUS$203 in 2003 to AUS$483 in 2006, not accounting for inflation.


Quantifying the environmental, health, and economic benefits of transforming publicly-owned land like a rail line into a cycling route is relevant to trail developers and community planners building support for the route. The demographic and behavioral insights gained from the survey can be used to develop and market the trail effectively. For example, in this study the author learned that most travel groups on the trail included families, suggesting that family restaurants or lodging could accommodate and encourage these groups on the route. 

The time period for data collection may bias the estimates. The author collected data during Easter holiday break, a time that is popular for tourists. However, the results are similar to the 2003 study that was undertaken during the same period, indicating the 2006 study’s results are reasonably consistent estimates over time, but may not be representative of other time periods throughout the year.


This study is located in North East Victoria, Australia.

Trail Type

The Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail (MTM) is a rail trail that connects the towns of Wangaratta, Beechworth, Myrtleford, Porepunkah, and Bright. There are 98 km of track that supports cycling, horse riding, and walking.


In a previous 2003 study, the author studied the economic impact of three rail trails. However, the data collection occurred after a series of summer bushfires that resulted in fewer people on the cycling trail. To address the bushfire effect and study the characteristics and expenditures of respondents using a well-developed trail over time, the author conducted this study using the same methodological approach on the Murray to the Mountains trails – one of the trails in her previous work.


  • Out of 625 cyclists, 396 were men and 239 were women. All traveled in groups. Most groups traveled with partners or family. There may have been more families or groups due to the Easter holiday. 
  • 11% of cyclists were under 10 years old, suggesting the family-oriented use of the trail. 
  • A little less than 25% of respondents did not spend on food and beverage, while others’ expenditures ranged up to AUS$1,000. 
  • 19% of respondents spent money on bicycles; the average expenditure was AUS$54.19. 
  • On average, respondents spent AUS$27 on accommodations per person per day, AUS$147 on food and beverages, AUS$47 on transportation, AUS$10 on cycling, and AUS$27 for an “other” category. 
  • The total economic contribution per person in 2003 was AUS$203 and increased to AUS$483 in 2006. The author does not appear to account for inflation.


The survey is comparable to the original 2003 survey but with additional questions addressing levels of satisfaction and travel patterns on the trail. The survey was conducted Saturday-Monday of the Easter period. The previous study in 2003 was also conducted over this period. The 140 individuals all traveled in groups, representing a total of 625 people. Since 8,328 people were estimated to be on the trail Saturday-Monday (according to the MTM Rail Trail Management Committee), the survey size covers about 7.5% of riders. The author claims that this percentage suggests a viable sample size. 

To collect expenditure data, self-reporting survey questions were utilized. Regional multipliers developed by the Centre for Sustainable Regional Communities at La Trobe University were used to calculate the total economic impact.

Added to library on November 13, 2023