The recovery of Australia’s bushfire-affected tourism regions is being given a boost, thanks to a new partnership between Ecotourism Australia and the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia (WWF-Australia).

The partnership, signed by Ecotourism Australia CEO Rod Hillman and WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman, sets forth a multilayered, long-term approach to assisting Australia’s bushfire-affected communities to build back better.                                                                                               

One of the first projects will be establishing six new certified ECO Destinations, which will utilise Ecotourism Australia’s Destination Certification framework to embed sustainable tourism and build community support. Funding from WWF-Australia will also support the development of a bushfire interpretation toolkit for ecotourism operators and a proposed bushfire recovery symposium for bushfire-affected regions to get together and share their learnings.

All of these projects build on Ecotourism Australia’s existing Bushfire Recovery Position Statement.

Dermot OGorman CEO of WWF Australia and Peter Cochrane Ecotourism Australia Director

Dermot O’Gorman (l), CEO of WWF-Australia with Peter Cochrane (r), Ecotourism Australia Director

Quandamooka Country in Queensland and East Gippsland Shire Council in Victoria will be the first regions to benefit from the agreement, with both embarking on the journey to become certified ECO Destinations.

“It’s perfect timing for us,” said Cameron Costello, Chief Executive Officer of Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC), the organisation leading the charge to have

Quandamooka Country (which includes Minjerribah, or North Stradbroke Island) World Heritage listed. 

“We’re 100% committed to working collaboratively with our communities for the long-term sustainable management of Quandamooka Country. Being able to engage them through this process, especially as we celebrate Queensland’s Year of Indigenous Tourism in 2020, is just fantastic, and aligns perfectly with our vision of Tourism for a Glad Tomorrow.”

TW photo credit QYAC

Photo credit: QYAC

East Gippsland Shire Council Mayor Cr John White said utilising the framework of Ecotourism Australia’s internationally recognised ECO Destination program to rebuild the community after the bushfires was a logical step. 

“We want to use the opportunity we have now to rebuild our region to be stronger and more resilient than what it was before, with a community-led approach,” Cr White said. 

“To do that, we need to take a long-term, sustainable approach, and Ecotourism Australia’s ECO Destination Certification program is perfectly suited to that.”

Light on water Credit East Gippsland Shire Council

Credit: East Gippsland Shire Council

For Dr Claire Ellis, Chair of Ecotourism Australia, the partnership with WWF-Australia is symbolic of the integral relationship between ecotourism and conservation:

“Ecotourism and conservation are essential to each other,” she said. “More than ever before we all need to find new ways of working to grow sustainability in our sector, to create rapid and lasting outcomes for tourism, our communities and conservation. Our new partnership with WWF-Australia highlights the significant value add collaboration with like-minded agencies brings and we look forward to growing this relationship.”

For WWF-Australia, the partnership is an opportunity to help bushfire-affected communities reduce their vulnerability to future disasters and revitalise local economies through nature-based tourism.

“Many communities that rely on tourism are hurting like never before after the devasting double blow of bushfires and COVID-19,” said Mr O’Gorman. “This partnership with Ecotourism Australia will lead the charge in helping Australia’s nature-based tourism sector get back on its feet and support tourism activities that are good for people and nature.”

Updates and more details about the partnership projects will be published in due course.


For questions and comments, please contact Lina Cronin, Communications Manager: [email protected]


With regional holidays starting to be allowed in some Australian states by the beginning of June, we are eager to leave the house and enjoy the beautiful autumn days on the beach, surrounded by mountain ranges or in the middle of lush rainforest. Although the earth was able to rejuvenate over the past weeks, with all our travel excitement coming up, we should not ignore the fact that travelling responsibly is still so important for our environment.

So, how do we do that?

Being an eco traveller already starts with packing our suitcases. A simple tip is to pack lightly. Not only does this literally ease our load by letting us carry lighter luggage, but for the environment, every kilogram counts, too. That’s because the more a vehicle weighs, the more carbon emissions it produces.

Photo by VisionPic .net from Pexels

Photo: Pexels /

Another tip is to take reusable items with you on your trip, whether it’s your refillable water bottle, reusable bag or food container. Those can be used for packing purposes as well as for your next grocery trip at your destination. By taking these, you’re reducing the amount of garbage contamination in your destination, by having the option to refuse plastic alternatives and sticking to the good habits you’ve likely already formed at home.

Pixabay luggage are you an eco traveller

Photo: Pixabay

While we can’t travel overseas yet, there are lots of places closer to home to explore and travelling to these will enable you to have a smaller carbon footprint than if you were flying long-distance. Check out Ecotourism Australia’s (EA) Green Travel Guide and see what is offered around your region and rest assured that all the experiences listed there are certified as being sustainable to an internationally recognised standard. When you’re travelling, look for these logos:

 Eco logos are you an eco traveller 3Eco logos are you an eco traveller 2Eco logos are you an eco traveller 1 

Whenever we start thinking about our travel plans, we have to remember to check current travel restrictions. We might not be able to travel in big groups, but instead we can decide to holiday together with our households or families and share the ride. This will not only allow us to spend quality time with our loved ones, but also potentially reduce our negative impacts on the environment.

Brogers End NSW Family 7 are you an eco traveller

Photo: Broger’s End Kangaroo Valley (Ecotourism & Climate Action Business certified)

Another great way to be an eco traveller is to support the locals. Locally produced goods are better for the environment, as they haven’t travelled as far as products from overseas. Eating at a local café or trying a local delicacy will also allow you to understand the places you’re visiting better and give you a chance to interact with local farmers and craftspeople who often have great stories to share.

Dirk Hartog Island WA Food 1 are you an eco traveller article

Photo: Dirk Hartog Island (Advanced Ecotourism certified; Green Travel Leader)

Whenever you stay overnight, try to stick to an eco lifestyle. Instead of taking a new towel each day, reuse the one you have. Whether it’s recycling, avoiding long showers or switching off the light whenever we leave the room, these are all things that most of us do at home, so why stop doing them whenever we stay somewhere else?

Crystal Creek Meadows NSW Accommodation 4 for eco traveller article

Photo: Crystal Creek Meadows (Advanced Ecotourism & ROC certified; Green Travel Leader)

Eco friendly travel options are found worldwide and the demand for them is increasing. By staying informed and being conscious of your travel habits, you can do your part to keep our earth clean.

Happy travelling!


[Header image: Cairns Adventure Group (Ecotourism & Climate Action Business certified; Green Travel Leader; Ecotourism Australia Hall of Fame)]



Australians are great travellers. For young people, travelling abroad in their early twenties remains a ‘rite of passage;’ empty nesters joining a river cruise through Europe and people of all ages going for their ‘cheap trip’ to South East Asia are still the dreams of most.

Within tourism, we’ve become dependent on an ever-growing international market for our tourism product at home – especially from China, which provides over a million visitors to Australia a year. But now, with the borders closed and Australians innately driven to travel, what happens if the borders remain ‘closed for the foreseeable future’ as has been suggested by our Prime Minister?

Studies from Bernstein Research (reported in Skift) show Australia may survive quite nicely with a possible increase in overall spend of close to $9 billion and a positive impact on our GDP of 0.6%, making Australia one of the winners from a post COVID – but not open border – business environment.

Tourism Australia is leading the push for Australians to take a ‘staycation’ this year, asking Australians to visit their backyard and explore our amazing country. Each state and territory will jump to push their case and regions will contribute to the momentum of competing interests with potential visitors about to receive some incredible offers and blanket coverage on social media, TV and everywhere.

Bendleby Ranges SA Adventure Outback 4 for Rod article

Photo: Bendleby Ranges (Advanced Ecotourism certified)

Nature based tourism has the potential to be exactly what this holiday at home market could be looking for. It provides the experience and reassurance that people emerging from an enforced isolation will be seeking. Ecotourism can provide the opportunity to reconnect people with what matters most and in a safe setting. People will shy away from large groups, crowded places and enclosed spaces and they will seek openness, wellness, connection, sustainably managed businesses and the opportunity to just be outside.

“Ecotourism can provide the opportunity to reconnect people with what matters most and in a safe setting.”

Adjusting to this opportunity will be challenging and will require a new approach by many. The tyranny of distance still applies to this huge country: for example, how do we get people to our remote regions with social distancing seeming to put a stop to domestic flights, leaving places like the Kimberley, South Australian Outback and Far North Queensland the domain of grey nomads? How can we afford to run tours with minimal guests, and how do we limit visitor numbers to be COVID safe, despite the forecast increase in demand?

Already we have seen some smart tour operators responding to these challenges by shifting their products to better cater for this domestic focused clientele and building interest and momentum while the lockdowns continue. These include:

  • Exceptional Kangaroo Island, which was badly affected by both the 2019-20 bushfires and COVID-19, conducting weekly live broadcasts on social media and working with agents and wholesalers to reposition their product to the domestic market
  • Sea Darwin launching an online business selling gin and other spirits that tell the stories of the local environment and history
  • King Leopold Air using the downtime to work on improving their business, using the ECO Certification criteria as a guide
  • Phillip Island Nature Parks launching a podcast telling stories of the penguins and locals who look after them to evoke interest in visiting the island
  • Ocean Free and Ocean Freedom focusing on maintenance and polishing paperwork and procedures, ensuring they’ll be ‘fighting fit’ on their return

Different states are taking different paths to reopening and whilst challenges will likely remain for the foreseeable future, our operators are resilient, agile and planning ahead to ensure they build back better for when they can once again welcome visitors.

Binna Burra Lodge QLD Forest Accommodation Night Sky 12 for Rod article

Photo: Binna Burra Mountain Lodge (Advanced Ecotourism certified)

There are plenty of reasons to be positive, but it won’t be a return to what was before. We need to be laser focused on what the market will be seeking and understand the crisis has truly shaken Australia, and the world. We can’t afford to pretend this was just an inconvenience and as if by magic it will all just disappear.

There is a real opportunity here. We can rebuild our industry with sustainability at its core, where communities welcome guests because they see the benefit to them; where the true tourism asset – our environment and culture – is protected and valued and where tourism contributes in all ways to the region’s own sustainability. Managing tourism sustainability is just good management and managing for the long-term benefit of all is not just a smart strategy for the recovery from COVID-19, but for the recovery of our planet for generations to come.


[Header image: Kimberley Tours (Ecotourism & ROC certified)]


Congratulations to City Terraces Apartments Cairns for becoming a certified Climate Action Business! This accommodation identifies itself as a clean, caring, convenient holiday accommodation in the heart of Cairns CBD, but what it offers is much more. Popular with holiday makers and corporate guests who seek a quiet, green retreat, City Terraces Apartments Cairns has a communal feel which reflects the owners’ commitment to sustainability.

CCT Reception

Photo credit:

Recognised as a local business sustainability leader (Cairns Post July 2019), City Terraces Apartments Cairns is a champion of local products, services and events. It sources locally grown and manufactured products wherever possible and partners with climate change action committed business Bunzl who supplies it with sugarcane pulp toilet paper, vegetable-based soap and pump bottle refillable amenities.

Cairns City Terraces bedroom FB

Photo credit: City Terraces Apartments Cairns / Facebook

Whilst still on the grid, City Terraces Apartments Cairns has invested in solar panels and investigated the electricity reduction benefits of LED upgrades in an effort to reduce its carbon footprint. Each quarter it rewards the apartment which uses the least electricity and publicises its “Eco Warrior Winners”. Reusing and sharing of resources to reduce waste and emissions is encouraged by the free-cycle basket and community bookshelf where departing guests can drop off anything useable that they no longer need. Guests can also borrow Boomerang Bags for their shopping, a bike for travelling and request a City Terraces ceramic mug at the adjacent café. A fridge magnet teaches guests how to separate waste to make the most of Cairns’ modern waste treatment facility, which will be able to process PET plastic locally from mid-2020.

Cairns City Terraces bikes FB

Photo credit: City Terraces Apartments Cairns

As part of its commitment to sustainability, City Terraces Apartments Cairns has become a member of the Cairns and Far North Environment Centre where the managers attend climate change talks including “Anthropogenic climate change: what can we expect in the Wet Tropics this century.” City Terraces Apartments Cairns is further involved in the local community via its support of Smile with Kids by donating room nights to charity auctions each year. The accommodation’s Facebook page abounds with posts promoting local sustainability and cultural events and initiatives including theYarrabah Music & Cultural Festival, Plastic Free July & Waste Levy 101 (library talk), and Cairns Indigenous Art Fair.

Cairns City Terraces garden FB 

Photo credit: City Terraces Apartments Cairns / Facebook

With its lush gardens, saltwater pool, barbeque area and community herb garden, it’s easy to see why this accommodation is popular with visitors to Tropical North Queensland. The waterwise choice of native plants means the grounds provide living space, food and shelter to local wildlife, too.

Cairns City Terraces outdoor area 2 FB

Photo credit: City Terraces Apartments Cairns / Facebook

Once again, we welcome City Terraces Apartments Cairns to the Ecotourism Australia family, and congratulate the business on achieving certification!  

Cairns City Terraces balcony FB

Photo credit: City Terraces Apartments Cairns / Facebook


For more information, check out City Terraces Apartments Cairns on our Green Travel Guide.


Finalists for Healing Solutions for Tourism Challenge

HEALING SOLUTIONS FOR TOURISM CHALLENGE UNWTO received over 1,000 applications from over 100 countries for the Healing Solutions for Tourism Challenge, launched to identify the most disruptive startups, entrepreneurs and drive solutions to mitigate COVID-19’s impact on tourism. The selected shortlisted semi- finalists announced below: Finalists Healing for people: CleanScan /Chameleon  Welcome Back (Canada/USA) Outpost Healthy Destinations (Canada) SeeTrue (Israel) […]