GSTC Board Member Dr. Ioannis Pappas at Moscow Urban Forum 2019

Dr. Ioannis Pappas, GSTC Board Member & Director for the Mediterranean Region, spoke at the Moscow Urban Forum 2019 in July. Dr. Pappas shared important developments in the travel industry’s shift to adhere to sustainability standards in the session “Attraction point. Tourism as a resource for the internal development of the city”. Moscow Urban […]

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Please join us in welcoming Kiikstart, our newest Business Member.

On a mission to develop businesses that are commercially viable, innovative and globally aware, Kiikstart is a boutique learning and business development service that focusses on working with the pacesetters, influencers and game changers of tomorrow who share their passion for sustainability.

Led by founder and director Ali Uren, Kiikstart uses a creative style of organisational development that helps individuals and organisations across the corporate, government, tourism and hospitality sectors navigate their way through the realities of doing business in today’s modern world.

Kiikstart does this not only through the design of strategies that will take their clients’ businesses to the next level, but also through tactics and measurable outcomes that will help them implement change in real time. As Uren says,

“The world is changing and it is our role, through working in a more hands on, modern way, [to ensure] that our clients have the best possible tactics and insights to make the best of opportunities and challenge.”

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Photo: Ali Uren, Kiikstart

Kiikstart works with businesses of all sizes and has made a genuine commitment to building skill and talent across regional and outback Australia. Among others, Kiikstart has worked with Innamincka Hotel in South Australia, which was recently awarded Ecotourism Certification.

Excited to join the ranks of Ecotourism Australia business members, Uren says that the business’ commitment to treading with care is shown in how she lives and works:

“Kiikstart is 100% off grid and personally I grow all my own eggs, meat, vegetables, water and sunshine. We have minimal food waste and zero carbon footprint.”

With values closely aligned with those of Ecotourism Australia, we are excited to welcome Kiikstart and look forward to the value they can bring to our members.

To find out for about Kiikstart, please visit their website.

To find out how your business can become an Ecotourism Australia Business Member, please visit our membership website.

Sargassum clean-up costs Caribbean US$120 million

Since 2011, thick mats of seaweed have increased in density to generate an 8,850-kilometer-long belt (weighing 20 million metric tons) known as the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt that extends from West Africa to the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. Scientists believe this algal explosion in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea could signify a new normal.


The health of the environment and Indigenous recognition and reconciliation are key priorities for the team at Portland Roads – Sailing the Whitsundays.

Leading by example, this team is a group of enthusiastic and motivated eco innovators. They are office free, paper free, carbon positive and have just achieved Advanced Ecotourism, Climate Action Business and ROC Certification!

Portland Roads Sailing the Whitsundays certification Boat

More than a boat charter company, the Portland Roads team live and breathe sustainability and encourage their guests to think deeper about environmental issues and First Nation People. The team is working hard to normalise sustainable change in the hope others will follow.

Their charter boats are equipped with fully self-sufficient solar power systems, smart charging, saltwater flushing and cleaning solutions, 100% non-toxic cleaning materials and regularly utilise biofuel sources.

Portland Roads snorkelling

It is their mission to tell the stories of Traditional Owners and the team share unique associations with Proserpine Indigenous Reference Group, the Black Coffee movement and relationships with local First Nations Elders who have provided permission for the company to operate on the waters of the Whitsundays.

Keep up the amazing work, Portland Roads – Sailing the Whitsundays and welcome to the Ecotourism Australia community!


For more information about Portland Roads – Sailing the Whitsundays, visit their website or Facebook page.


[Photos: Portland Roads – Sailing the Whitsundays]


25 million.

That’s how many trees, shrubs and grasses have been planted since National Tree Day was established in Australia 23 years ago. Why does this day exist? And why have close to five million volunteers given ten million hours of their time to a cause which forces them to get their hands dirty?

Ian Darbyshire, CEO of the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife, says that National Tree Day is a cause that resonates because it affects both people’s health and the environment.

“Aussies are spending more and more time inside and in front of a screen, disconnected from the natural world, but research from here and overseas show there are real health and wellbeing benefits associated with spending time outside and in contact with nature.”

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Photo: Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife

These benefits include a lowered risk of heart disease and diabetes, reduced stress, and increased happiness, wellbeing and productivity.

For the planet, a five percent increase in tree cover can reduce nearby daytime temperatures by 2.3 degrees Celsius, which could be crucial as heatwaves cost more lives than all other climate change impacts combined. A large, healthy tree can also sequester (remove and store) up to 93kg of CO2 emissions and 1.4kg of air pollution a year.

With all these benefits, protecting our trees seems a logical priority. Sadly, it doesn’t always end up that way.

Over the past 200 years, more than 75% of Australia’s native vegetation has been destroyed or degraded. Darbyshire says that destructive human activities such land clearing, urban expansion and logging are to blame, as well as climate change impacts, invasive species, pests and diseases.

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Photo: Robert Jones / Pixabay

“Extinction of species can have unforeseen effects with widespread consequences for ecosystems, native wildlife and for people. Our futures are linked. We need to work together to restore rainforests, woodlands and bushland across Australia.”

The Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife supports on-ground projects that protect habitat, rehabilitate native bushland and increase biodiversity for Australia’s threatened species. One such project is National Tree Day, which is celebrated every year on the 28th of July as a positive, community-based activity aimed to bring native plant communities back to into the Australian environment and connect people, especially children, with nature.

Each year, 300,000 people volunteer their time, making National Tree Day Australia’s largest annual tree-planting and nature care event.

national tree day 2013 planting

Photo: Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife

Darbyshire says participating is easy: “There are many ways to get involved, such as collaborating with a local community group to host a tree planting event, or you can make a donation to enable others in the community to conduct planting activities.”

Running a tree day activity in your workplace is also great team building initiative, which at the same time makes a difference to the community, fosters a love of nature and creates positive environmental change.

For more information on planting sites near you, call the National Tree Day Hotline on 1300 885 000. If you can’t plant a tree yourself, the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife can plant one for you through the Plant a Tree for Me! Program. For more information, visit


[Header image: Josh Withers / Unsplash]


Ecotourism Australia has launched its new online platform, which will make the process of achieving certification easier for tourism businesses.

The platform, called, has been designed with both new applicants and existing certified operators in mind.

As well as streamlining the application process through simple click-through criteria and more detailed guidance for applicants, the platform will allow businesses to benchmark their performance and, in the future, show them how they compare to industry best practice.

Other exciting features include the ability for multiple staff to work on their application through a joint business login (though not simultaneously), and easier communication between applicants and their certification coach via a remarks tab.

Initially rolled out for new applicants only, Ecotourism Australia’s existing certified operators will be added to the platform gradually as they renew their annual membership or undergo an audit. In the future, the platform is also expected to feature a special members-only forum.

CEO Rod Hillman says the platform launch comes at an exciting time for the tourism industry:

“Our industry is at a real turning point. What we do now will significantly impact not only the natural assets on which tourism depends, but also on the reputation our industry carries.

“The platform brings together the most recent update of our ECO Certification criteria with international-standard online systems to ensure that our certified operators continue to deliver world’s best practice ecotourism experiences to their visitors.”

As part of its responsibilities to the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, the international accreditation body for sustainable tourism certification, Ecotourism Australia’s certification criteria undergoes regular updates to ensure that it remains global best practice.

From the most recent criteria review, the ECO Certification program now incudes more stringent criteria on addressing climate change, interacting with wildlife, Indigenous and cultural tourism, building, construction and landscaping as well as accessibility. It will also include a carbon calculator.



For questions and comments, please contact Rod Hillman – CEO: 0427 279 414 

For more information about the criteria view, visit


Operating in the tourist hot spot of Hervey Bay, you’ll find Boat Club Adventure Cruises offering sunset cruises, day cruises, whale watching and sharing stories of pre-settlement times. Often drawing a diverse and culturally rich crowd from all corners of the globe, it is important for the team at Boat Club Adventure to not only highlight the significance of living ecosystems in the area but also the cultural history.

Whale Watching

“I think all guests have an interest in our stories,” says Philip House, Marine Operations Manager. “Sharing Indigenous language and culture with visitors is an important part of our tours.”

Through their tours conducted in and around Moonaboola (the local name for the Mary River) the Boat Club Adventure Cruises crew offers a range of affordable cruise options to showcase the beauty and diversity of Hervey Bay, Fraser Island and The Great Sandy Marine Park.  Providing more than just an enjoyable cruise, guests get an understanding of what the land was like before settlement and how Indigenous people would have utilised the marine environment to live for hundreds of years.

By engaging with locals to present their heritage to guests, Boat Club Adventure Cruises allows visitors to leave with a greater understanding of true Australia and its real history.


“My favourite aspect of sharing Indigenous language and culture with guests is witnessing the integration and mixing of cultures,” says Philip.

Keeping Indigenous language and culture alive is important whether you’re operating in on land or at sea, as all ecosystems have played a role in the stories and the survival of the world’s oldest living culture. The Boat Club Adventure Cruises crew have pledged to continue to engage local Indigenous communities and keep their culture alive.


Have you read the other articles in this series?


AN HONOURABLE MISSION – featuring Wajaana Yaam Gumbaynggirr Adventure Tours

AN IMMERSIVE ISLAND EXPERIENCE – featuring Straddie Kingfisher Tours

INDIGENOUS CULTURE AT THE FOREFRONT – featuring Cairns Adventure Group

INPUT AND RECOGNITION EVERY STEP OF THE WAY – featuring Rainforestation Nature Park

WELCOME TO OUR HOME – featuring Just Cruisin 4WD Tours