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]


MEDIA RELEASE: Twelve Tourism Businesses Inducted into Ecotourism Australia Hall of Fame

Twelve of Australia’s leading nature-based tourism businesses were inducted into Ecotourism Australia’s Hall of Fame last night, for being ECO certified for 20 years.

The awards were presented during the gala dinner of the Global Eco Asia Pacific Tourism Conference, held at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, north of Cairns.

Induction into the Hall of Fame is an honour now bestowed upon 26 ecotourism businesses, the first of whom were entered into the Hall of Fame in 2018, 22 years after Ecotourism Australia’s certification program was fist launched as the National Ecotourism Accreditation Program (NEAP) – now ECO Certification.

Ecotourism Australia CEO Rod Hillman said that this year’s awardees were some of the leading ecotourism operators in the country, whose longevity and continued success in a rapidly changing industry was testament to their continued commitment to sustainable business practices and dedication to benefiting the communities and environments in which they operate.

“We are very proud to welcome these 12 operators into our Ecotourism Australia Hall of Fame. They are our nation’s true ecotourism innovators, and their leadership has paved the way for more responsible and sustainable tourism as we experience it today.

“In 1997, we had just eighteen operators certified under NEAP – the world’s first ecotourism accreditation program. Today we have close to 500.

“Our industry has come a long way, and operators like these continue to amaze and inspire us by how they run their businesses, the positive impact they have on their community and environment, the way they educate travellers and the ingenuity they continue to show in making our industry better.”

The Hall of Fame entrants for 2019 are:

  • Billabong Sanctuary (QLD)
  • Billy Tea Safaris (QLD)
  • Cairns Adventure Group (QLD)
  • Daintree Discovery Centre (QLD)
  • Down Under Tours (Australia) (QLD)
  • Everglades Eco Safaris (QLD)
  • Grampians Personalised Tours & Adventures (VIC)
  • Paperbark Camp (NSW)
  • Tropic Wings Cairns Tours & Charters (QLD)
  • Undara Experience (QLD)
  • Far Out Adventures (NT)
  • Yelverton Brook Eco Spa Retreat & Conservation Sanctuary (WA)