The sustainability successes continue for Ecotourism Australia’s first ECO certified destination, the Douglas Shire, who have just taken home the Communities and Culture Award at the Sustainable Destination Awards in Europe. 

The accolade, which was announced overnight, recognises the Port Douglas and Daintree destination’s efforts in celebrating Indigenous experiences and creating local jobs through the Mossman Gorge Centre, an Ecotourism and Respecting our Culture certified business. 

Tara Bennett, CEO of Tourism Port Douglas Daintree, said of the award: “We are delighted to see our destination celebrated on the global stage for its impressive achievements in sustainable tourism through collaboration and cultural sensitivity, as demonstrated by the Mossman Gorge Centre.

“I am very proud of the commitment that our private sector and local government make to sustainable tourism and I hope it inspires other destinations.”

Ecotourism Australia CEO Rod Hillman said, “Douglas Shire thoroughly deserves this international recognition of its sustainability efforts in an extremely competitive environment.”

The Sustainable Destination Awards, usually announced at ITB Berlin — the world’s largest travel trade show — are decided upon by a jury representing 12 international organisations. 

The awards are dedicated to recognising innovation and good practices in tourism management by islands, towns, regions and whole countries.

Awards categories include Nature, Communities and Culture, Best of Africa, Best of the Americas, Best of Asia-Pacific and Best of Europe. The flagship award is the ITB Earth Award, recognising global leadership in combatting climate change and environmental degradation.

Douglas Shire was awarded ECO Destination certification at the 2019 Global Eco Conference in Cairns, becoming the world’s first destination certified through this certification program.


For questions and comments, please contact Lina Cronin – Communications Manager

[email protected]; 07 3256 6422


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How a South Australian adventure tour company is offsetting their carbon in the local community

From 2016 to 2019, Calypso Star Charters, in South Australia’s Port Lincoln, was a carbon neutral tourism business. But when their carbon auditing and offsetting provider stopped offering carbon offset services in mid-2019, the company knew it was time to think outside the box.

With a clear personal investment in the local community – Calypso Star Charters is a family-run business – the idea arose to start a local environment fund. This fund would provide an opportunity for the company to invest the same amount as was previously put towards carbon offsetting schemes, many of them overseas, into local community projects instead.

“We didn’t know what to do, initially,” explained part-owner/operator Andrew Wright. “But then we thought, why aren’t we spending the money locally?”

From September 2019, the Calypso Star Charters Local Environment Fund has been receiving funds equal to the cost of former offsets (emissions are audited regularly, and the funds adjusted annually) and distribution has begun to local groups and projects that can demonstrate tangible environmental benefits.

Coast Care Group school project 2

Photo credit: Calypso Star Charters

One such project has been working with the local Lake Wangary Primary School and the Lower Eyre Coast Care Association to assist in revegetating Greenly Beach, 60km west of Port Lincoln. What began as a tree propagation day involving year 5, 6 and 7 students in 2019 will continue as a tree planting day in 2020, in line with World Environment Day.

Andrew said it’s been great seeing the younger generation actively engaged in environmental management programs and being able to pass on the importance of caring for nature.

A second project already completed thanks to the new fund is the installation of LED lighting at Port Lincoln’s local gymnastics club.

“My kids go to the club and I kept thinking – do these guys know how much money they could be saving if they switched to LED?” Andrew said. With the support of the South Australian RESS (Retailer Energy Efficient Scheme) and a $3,114 donation from the Calypso Star Charters Local Environment Fund, the change was made possible and it’s now anticipated the club could reduce its energy running costs for lighting by about 60%.

“That will save them about $4,000 a year,” Andrew explained.

Port Lincoln gym lights 1

Photo credit: Calypso Star Charters

So, what else is on the agenda for the Local Environment Fund?

Andrew told us that the it’s the newest project on the agenda that he’s most excited about: a composting solution that involves a former concrete mixer, a friend with a gardening business and leftover bait that previously got sent to landfill.

What will happen to the compost?

“Not sure yet – we’ll most likely sell it for beer money!” Andrew laughs.

One thing’s for sure – new ideas keep emerging from Calypso Star Charters, and with so many benefits flowing back into the local community, that’s definitely something we can all toast to.


For more news and updates on the Calypso Star Charters Local Environment Fund, visit the website.