For Elizabeth Hackett, Executive Chairman of Magnums Backpackers in Airlie Beach, the 2017 cyclone was a push to consider how sustainable building materials could be used in rebuilding and how native flora could be better protected.

It’s this infectious passion and commitment to environmental sustainability that sets Elizabeth apart as an Everyday Ecotourism Hero in her colleague Anushka Denning’s eyes:

“If I could describe Elizabeth in three words, they would be positive continuous improvement,” Anushka says.

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Noting that it was Elizabeth who pushed the team to pursue ECO Certification, even though the business had been operating in a sustainable way for years, Anushka adds that Elizabeth is always encouraging the team to think outside the box and get involved in making Magnums even more sustainable:

“[Elizabeth] not only drives the ecotourism program, but she makes suggestions and supports the ideas of all who work for the company, providing encouragement and education.

“We all feel supported to make suggestions and the entire team take ownership of wanting to better our practices through her motivation and support.”

Being well connected in the Whitsundays community, Elizabeth was part of the recovery committee that drove the clean up effort following Cyclone Debbie in 2017. She has also built a reputation in the community for being environmentally aware and someone who is always seeking to improve and sustain the natural beauty of the area.

Magnums Tip 1

Some of the sustainability initiatives Elizabeth has led have included the installation of solar, the posting of eco tips for guests, staff and the public on Magnums’ website and social media, replacing chemicals with environmentally-friendly products and planting a herb garden.

“[The herb garden] has minimised rubbish from guests who buy the pre-packaged herbs from the supermarket, explains Anushka.

“Guests love it.”

Elizabeth also supported the office manager’s suggestion to shred office paper and provide this to community groups and pet shops and assists with composting when she visits the site.

“With the aim of being a paperless office, administrative staff now think twice before they use paper for printing!” says Anushka.

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Magnums Backpackers also has signs scattered around the property which aim to boost awareness among guests of the impacts their visit can have. Recently, as Anushka notes, Magnums recruited for guest liaisons officer positions. Their job, among other tasks, is to provide information and education on ecological matters without being overbearing.

“As [Elizabeth] always says, ‘all our steps result in a giant footprint.’”

Thank you, Elizabeth, for being an Everyday Ecotourism Hero and thank you, Anushka, for your nomination!

Magnums wifi area 1

For more information on Magnums Backpackers, visit their website or Facebook page.

For more information on our other Everyday Ecotourism Heroes, check out the other articles in this series:

Is there someone in your business who you think is an Everyday Ecotourism Hero? Tell us about them!

Have we piqued your interest in travelling sustainably? Make sure you check out our Green Travel Guide and news page for some eco travel inspiration!


Ecotourism Australia has signed an historic partnership agreement with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) this month, cementing its position as a global leader in the field of sustainable and nature-based tourism and setting the stage for increased collaboration between the two organisations.

The partnership, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili and Ecotourism Australia Chair Dr Claire Ellis, sets out key areas of collaboration including:

  • Exchanging information on how national policies promote nature-based tourism and ecotourism
  • Collection, compilation and analysis of statistics on nature-based tourism and ecotourism
  • Cooperation on other areas such as UNWTO’s activities in South Pacific countries in relation to sustainability, nature-based tourism and climate change

“Ecotourism Australia is working closely with Australia’s nature-based tourism operators, destinations, protected area management agencies and government to help deliver social and environmental improvements to our regions, said Dr Ellis.

“As global tourism grows, sustainability in our sector is more important than ever. 

“With our increased focus on climate action, destination-wide certification and pursuing partnerships to deliver things that really matter to our members, we are excited to be entering into this partnership with the world’s leading tourism authority and look forward to working closely together over the coming months.”

The partnership will also be an opportunity for Australia to re-engage with UNWTO, the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of sustainable development through tourism.

“Tourism regularly outgrows the world economy and international trade. We not only have the responsibility to face up to the development challenge, we also have a real opportunity to deliver. UNWTO is very happy to partner with Ecotourism Australia to further advance tourism as a partner of the three pillars of sustainability – environment, economy, and society,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili. 

As Australia’s ecotourism industry’s national advocate and standard setter, Ecotourism Australia continues to work closely with its international and national partner organisations to deliver world leading certification programs and drive value for its members. 

For more information about Ecotourism Australia, visit the Ecotourism Australia website: www.ecotourism.org.au

For more information about UNWTO, visit the UNWTO website: http://www2.unwto.org/


–          ENDS    –


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


It’s hard to believe that it’s that time of year again: the Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE), Australia’s largest annual travel and tourism business-to-business event, is just around the corner.

The Tourism Australia event, to be held this year in Perth’s Convention and Exhibition Centre from 8 – 12 April, will be attended by around 1,500 Australian sellers from 550 companies, 650 key buyer delegates from over 30 countries and 70 international and Australian media.

Whether you’re a seasoned ATE veteran or a first-time attendee, we believe these top tips will help you to maximise your return on investment for the event in 2019.

How to make the most of ATE 2019 6

1. Know why you’re going

It seems like a no-brainer, but it’s a key one. Why are you attending ATE in 2019? Is it to connect with new markets, reconnect with existing partners, showcase new product? Are there any other people you want to meet with while you’re in Perth? These things are all worth a thought before you go.

2. Be organised

It’s no joking matter: ATE is busy. Planning carefully – well in advance – what you’ll need to take, how you’re going to get there and what you’re going to do once you get there, as well as preparing your appointment schedule, will prevent countless headaches and stressful moments once you’re there. Once you’re in Perth, get to the convention centre early, make sure your booth is set up how you want it, go over your plan of attack for the week and – of course – determine which State has the best coffee so that you can minimise running time in between appointments!

How to make the most of ATE 2019 3

3. Know your markets

Who are your current target markets, and who do you want to attract in the future? Do you know what these markets are looking for, and how your product suits their needs? Do as much research as you can before you meet with a potential buyer, so that your conversations are focused, tailored and purposeful. Tourism Australia has some great resources that can help with this (see example below).

4. Get cultured

Relationship building at ATE often involves interacting with buyers from various cultures. Have you ever considered the power of learning just a few words of another language, to help break the ice and create a memorable experience with the buyers you’re meeting with? We suggest common phrases like hello, welcome, how are you and thank you are probably more appropriate and useful than I’d like a beer, please (keep that one for the networking sessions). 

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5. Tailor your networking

Let’s face it – the time you have between buyer and seller appointments can be extremely limited, and after repeating the same 15-minute spiel 25 times a day, it can be seem like an effort to wander off and network. We suggest prioritising finding other members of the Ecotourism Australia tribe and catching up on what’s happening in the ecotourism world – it’s a world driven strongly by passionate people who likely share your values, so you may find yourself carried off in all sorts of wonderful, inspiring conversations over lunch!

6. Take the opportunity to stay up to date

This year, Ecotourism Australia will be attending ATE as a Buyer only. Our CEO Rod and Communications and Audit Manager Lina look forward to catching up with you in Perth to:

  • Better understand the key issues your business is facing, so that we can represent your needs to our industry partners,
  • Update you on how we’re ensuring you stay ahead of the game through things like revising our certification criteria to meet scientific and market demand, growing the business case for sustainable tourism and taking climate action seriously
  • Share the key trends, topics and discussions that we’re seeing in our industry to reassure you that what you’re doing is making a difference

If you haven’t already, do make sure you lock in an appointment with us, as we’d love to check in with you and see how we can add even more value to your Ecotourism Australia membership.

Do you have any tips on how to make the most of your attendance at ATE? Tell us in the comments below!

For a little extra help, check out these great resources:

See you in Perth in 6 weeks!

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We are excited to welcome Straddie Kingfisher Tours to the Ecotourism Australia community, following their achievement of Advanced Ecotourism and ROC Certification for their 4WD Eco Tour, Sand Boarding, Kayaking and Tag Along Tour.

Straddie Kingfisher Tours, started by David (“Barefoot Dave”) Thelander and his Margaret over 17 years ago, was a project built on the couple’s passion for North Stradbroke Island and a desire to show this island paradise to the world in an eco-friendly, informative and sustainable way.

Dave and Margaret website

Their tours, which can be tailored to meet guests’ individual interests, are ideal for individuals and groups and located just 25 minutes off Queensland’s mainland. From vising North Stradbroke Island’s most scenic lookouts to sandboarding down sand dunes and kayaking beside dolphins, Straddie Kingfisher Tours offers all their guests a personal touch and local knowledge of the island. Owner Margaret is a traditional owner, and thus also brings a wealth of Indigenous knowledge and understanding of the land to enrich the guest experience.

Kayaking SKT FB

Whilst on tour, Straddie Kingfisher Tours’ guests may notice that their guide or driver will drive around to avoid bird flocks settled on the beach so as not to disturb them. This not only protects the birds but offers great opportunities for visitors to observe and snap pictures of these birds socialising and grooming.

Bird SKT website

Sustainability measures like this one are part of the company’s ethos and built into every aspect of Straddie Kingfisher Tours’ activities. For example, the company’s drinking cups are made of plant starch, so that when they decompose, they add fertiliser to the soil. Bio diesel is used for vehicles, and the company is investigating options for offsetting on the island through tree planting and will soon add an invitation to guests to offset their trip by including it in their confirmation email and booking pages.

Sand boarding SKT FB

When in the vicinity of wildlife, guests are reminded to speak quietly so as not to cause disturbance, and always encouraged to keep a close eye on their surroundings, for they can never know what they might see on a tour.

Accessibility is also taken into account with Straddie Kingfisher Tours, and owner Dave sometimes leads tours for visually impaired or blind guests.

North Gorge SKT FB

Please join us in congratulating Straddie Kingfisher Tours on their achievement.

For more information, please visit the Straddie Kingfisher Tours’ website or Facebook page.


[Photos from Straddie Kingfisher Tours’ website and Facebook page.]


Alex is the real deal.

That’s how Sara Castillo describes her colleague Alex Crowe, Outdoor Areas and Conservation Manager at Ecotourism and Climate Action Business Certified Broger’s End in the Kangaroo Valley.

A farm set on 160 acres of varying landscape, Broger’s End is a peaceful haven offering “eco-eclectic” accommodation for families and couples in lovingly restored old sheds, transformed using reclaimed and recycled materials and featuring veggie gardens, a pizza oven, wildlife, bush tracks and even an espresso machine. 

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“Alex is absolutely dedicated to making Broger’s End a haven for nature,” describes Sara.

“He walks the walk, as they say. His drive and passion for conservation, permaculture, native plants and treading lightly on this planet are palpable and very inspiring.

Alex also volunteers his time and enjoys helping others who are learning the ropes:

“He guides other volunteers with grace and passion and is inclusive, upbeat and excited by the smallest things, such as propagating a rare indigenous food plant, Sara notes.

He [also] wants to educate the guests that stay with us by showing them what can be done and how to do it.”

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Though the number of projects that Alex has instigated on the farm are too many to list, one recent success has been the rehabilitation of some very degraded farmland. After designing a conservation corridor for native animals to connect the forest back to the river, Alex applied for grants and won some money to help bring conservation volunteers to the farm for a week-long planting session of carefully planned and sought-after natives for that particular area. These plants are now growing well, under the watchful eye of Alex and another conservation gardener, and are intended to one day link to a native food forest for guests.

“Alex has had an incredible impact on the environment and the community through the conservation work he has done on the property, Sara says.

“His own hard work and getting his hands dirty every day is inspirational and educational.”

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Guests clearly appreciate Alex’ expertise too, with many of them commenting that Alex’ permaculture garden is one of the things they love best about their stay.

“His vision is powerful and he brings everyone along on the journey, notes Sara.

“His infectious smile and energy make him a loveable character.”

Alex 1

For more information on Broger’s End, visit their website or Facebook page.

For more information on our other Everyday Ecotourism Heroes, check out the other articles in this series:

Is there someone in your business who you think is an Everyday Ecotourism Hero? Tell us about them!

Have we piqued your interest in travelling sustainably? Make sure you check out our Green Travel Guide and news page for some eco travel inspiration!


[All photos supplied by Broger’s End]

GSTC Sustainable Tourism Training in Bergen, Norway, Feb 14-16, 2019

From Words to Actions From 14-15 February 2019, the GSTC, in partnership with NCE (Norwegian Centres of Expertise) Tourism Fjord Norway offered a training class for tourism industry stakeholders from the Fjord Norway region. The training class, led by Ayako Ezaki (GSTC Training Director) and Nicola Koschel (GSTC Trainer, Sustainable Tourism Consultant), covered sustainability […]

The post GSTC Sustainable Tourism Training in Bergen, Norway, Feb 14-16, 2019 appeared first on Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).

GSTC at COMCEC Tourism Working Group Meeting: “Sustainable Destination Management Strategies in the OIC Member Countries”

The 13th Meeting of the COMCEC Tourism Working Group was held on February 13th, 2019 in Ankara, Turkey, with the theme of “Sustainable Destination Management Strategies in the OIC Member Countries”. The meeting included a presentation by Dr. Ioannis Pappas, GSTC Director Mediterranean Region, on the GSTC’s Role and Mission for Sustainable Destinations. The […]

The post GSTC at COMCEC Tourism Working Group Meeting: “Sustainable Destination Management Strategies in the OIC Member Countries” appeared first on Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).

NY Times Calls Travelers to look for GSTC-Accredited Certification Bodies: How to Be a Green Traveler

“The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) [accredits] certification programs for hotels and tour operators […]. Travelers can visit their site to see lists of these programs, which include The Rainforest Alliance and Earth Check, and hotels that are [certified] will typically show a certification logo on their own websites and marketing materials.” Read the full article: How to Be a Green Traveler by By Justin […]

The post NY Times Calls Travelers to look for GSTC-Accredited Certification Bodies: How to Be a Green Traveler appeared first on Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).