GSTC Response to Stay Grounded Letter

This is GSTC’s response to the letter from Stay Grounded (December 6th), regarding the GSTC2019 Global Sustainable Tourism Conference in the Azores. 18 December 2019 Dear Mira Kapfinger and the Stay Grounded Nework, Thank you for expressing your views on our choice of location for our 2019 annual conference. We certainly respect your perspectives and […]

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THE SOUTHERN GREAT BARRIER REEF offers some parts where visitors can discover places unseen. Large hard coral reefs and vibrant colourful fish and marine life like turtles and manta rays are plentiful. This fantastic hidden eco gem destination begins just a 3.5 hour drive from Brisbane driving north toward Mackay, or fly in to one of the five airports within the region.

There are many interesting areas to discover including the Carlo Sand Blow and beautiful coloured sands of Rainbow Beach and Fraser Island, where you can stay with the Ecotourism certified Kingfisher Bay Resort and explore the largest sand island in the world (World Heritage Listed) – Fraser Island, also known as K’gari, is home to the Butchulla Aboriginal people. Have one adventure after another with Fraser Dingo 4WD Adventures.

Moving north from there is Harvey Bay which is an excellent point for whale sighting. Hervey Bay Dive Centre, Whalesong Cruises, Blue Dolphin Marine Tours, Freedom Whale Watch and Charters, Pacific Whale Foundation Australia, Boat Club Adventure Cruises, Hervey Bay Whale Watch and Tasman Venture offer whale watching cruises, and all are Ecotourism certified.

 Whale Photo Credit Pacific Whale Foundation Australia   Breaching photo credit Travel and Wildlife Photography

Photo credit Travel & Wildlife Photography, Pacific Whale Foundation Australia

Bundaberg is next where you can stay at Ecotourism certified Kelly’s Beach Resort and enjoy the unique experience at Mon Repos Beach turtle encounter. From November to January when the turtles emerge on the beach to nest and from January to March form a pathway to the ocean for the baby turtles as they begin their dangerous journey into adolescence with only 1 in 1000 turtles making it to maturity. Hervey Bay Eco Marine Tours have Turtle Discovery Tours. 

The beautiful Lady Musgrave Island is where you can snorkel and scuba dive. Lady Musgrave Experience offer various tours including the Lady Musgrave Island Day Tour; Sleep on The Reef; Tobruk Experience and Australian Whale Experience.

  baby turtles photo credit Great Barrier Reef Foundation   Turtle photo credit Lady Musgrave Island

Photo credit Great Barrier Reef Foundation / Lady Musgrave Experience

The town of 1770 is next on this drive northward where 1770 LARC! Tours allow you to explore the Aboriginal heritage of this area. There are at least 44 Traditional Owner groupings with interests in sea country across the length of the Great Barrier Reef. Traditional Owners are making a significant and meaningful contribution to Reef protection already with more than 200 Indigenous rangers across the Reef catchments.  1770 LARC! Tours offer the Goolimbil Walkabout Tour, which is an authentic Indigenous hunting, gathering and tasting experience including a theatrical tour where you can learn about the wonderful culture that lived here sustainably for thousands of years.

Photo credit Australian Traveller  Photo credit 1770 Larc Tours

Photo credit Australian Traveller, 1770 Larc Tours

Gladstone is next where you can visit the stunning Ecotourism certified Heron Island Resort and explore another island. Or, if that’s a bit far out to sea, why not check out Pumpkin Island just off the coast of Yeppoon? You can rent a cabin or bungalow; or the whole 6ha island to yourself, with eco-friendly accommodation for up to 34 guests in 7 self-catering units powered by the sun. 

 Heron Island photo credit HeronIsland dot com   Pumpkin Island Coast Southern GBR article

Photo credit / Pumpkin Island

Then is Rockhampton with her stunning Sapphire Gemfields. At almost 900 km2, it’s one of the world’s largest sapphire fields, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere where sapphires and rubies are mined. Capricorn Caves have been open since its discovery in 1881. Visitors choose from a range of exciting and immersive experiences including daily wheelchair-accessible guided cave tours, wild caving adventures, abseiling, high ropes courses and team building initiatives. Winners of Tourism Australia Awards 2018 and 2019, you can stay in their lodges or cabins.  

    Capricorn Caves photo credit Capricorn Caves   Capricorn Caves photo credit Booking dot com

Photo credit, Capricorn Caves

Next is Mackay with its scenic and rugged park including rainforest, eucalypt forest, beaches, rocky headlands covered in hoop pines, and volcanic rock formations. Dense rainforest meets the ocean and fine sandy beaches fringe the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Mobs of wallabies meet on the beach to search for food dawn and dusk, making this iconic place much loved. The Yuibera Aboriginal people live in this region. Visit the Diversity boardwalk and Yuibera plant trail to understand the Yuibera people’s connection to this country, and their traditional way of life. Visitors can camp or stay in cabins. Stay at Cape Hillsborough Nature Tourist Park to enjoy all of this!

Cape Hillsborough credit   

Cape Hillsborough / Photo credit 

For more information on our operators and what to do in the area, check out the links below or visit our Green Travel Guide.

Check out these for more amazing (certified) experiences:

GSTC Training Offered to Stakeholders from 17 Countries – Terceira, Azores, Dec 2019

The most recent training class – and the last one in 2019 – of the GSTC Sustainable Tourism Training Program (STTP) concluded last week, as we connected with 40 industry professionals from across Europe and beyond who joined our training, followed by the annual GSTC global conference in Terceira, Azores. Our group, including participants […]

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GSTC 2020 Global Sustainable Tourism Conference to be hosted in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, November 19 – 22

GSTC 2020 Global Sustainable Tourism Conference to be hosted in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, November 19 – 22 The conference will be hosted at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, on November 19 – 22, 2020. The announcement was made in Terceira Island, Azores, on December 6th, […]

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“Navigating the Way Forward” – GSTC 2019 Global Conference in the Azores

“Navigating the Way Forward” – GSTC 2019 Global Conference in the Azores The GSTC 2019 Global Sustainable Tourism Conference “Navigating the Way Forward” that took place on December 4th-7th in Terceira Island, the Azores, brought together 250 delegates from 42 countries, along with hundreds of viewers that watched the live broadcasting of the conference. […]

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Japan Tourism Agency Commits to Formally Adopt GSTC Criteria in its Tourism Policy

Japan Tourism Agency has committed to formally adopt GSTC criteria as part of its tourism policy. Japan has ambitious plans to grow tourism arrivals, but is determined to do this in a sustainable way. To that end, the adoption of the GSTC destination criteria is a major commitment and act of leadership. Prof. Kumi […]

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MEDIA RELEASE: Douglas Shire Becomes World’s First ECO Certified Destination

History has been made today in the far north Queensland Shire of Douglas, with the Port Douglas and Daintree destination becoming the first in the world to achieve Ecotourism Australia’s ECO Destination Certification.

The announcement was made during Ecotourism Australia’s annual Global Eco Asia Pacific Tourism Conference in Cairns, with the certificate presented to Douglas Shire Mayor, Julia Leu.

The shire, which first signed up for the certification program in 2018, has been working hard on the 100 criteria involved in the certification, of which it has met 80 to reach the ECO Certified Nature Destination level.

Douglas Shire

Photo: Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu receiving Douglas Shire’s ECO Destination Certification certificate from Ecotourism Australia Chair Claire Ellis

An onsite audit conducted last week by an international team of independent auditors assessed every aspect of the shire’s application in detail, including reviewing documentation, visiting key tourism sites and conducting interviews with council staff, community group representatives, service providers and the mayor herself.

Cr Leu said the ECO Destination Certification gave the region a big green tick of approval.

“Our vision is to become the world’s leading tropical visitor destination by delivering world-class sustainable tourism experiences,” she said.

Aboriginal Child Credit Tourism Port Douglas Daintree

Photo credit: Tourism Port Douglas Daintree

“The ECO Destination certification, through its rigorous auditing process, gives us credibility, setting Douglas Shire and its unique natural experiences apart from everywhere else.

“By focusing on the sustainable interactions with nature, we hope to conserve our pristine environment for our tourism industry and for future generations to enjoy.”

Ecotourism Australia’s ECO Destination Certification program was created in partnership with Green Destinations, an international non-profit foundation for sustainable tourism whose standards are accredited and recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).


[Cover photo: Tourism Port Douglas Daintree]