Ecotourism Australia certified operators have again been recognised at the 2021 Qantas Australian Tourism Awards, representing more than 20 per cent of all award winners this year.

ECO Certified operators were represented across 10 of the 25 award categories, with gold awards won in the categories of Major Tour and Transport Operators, Adventure Tourism, Tourism and Marketing Campaigns, Hosted Accommodation, New Tourism Business and Ecotourism.

Red Cat Adventures QATA 2021

(Pictured: Red Cat Adventures win gold in Adventure Tourism category)

There were 32 nominations between the 26 Ecotourism Australia certified operators and two destination applicants named as finalists. In total, 13 operators and one destination applicant were recognised with six gold, six silver and four bronze awards.

“It’s great to see Australia’s leading sustainability-focused operators being recognised at the pinnacle awards for our industry,” said Ecotourism Australia’s CEO, Elissa Keenan. “The diversity of categories our members were nominated for was inspiring and demonstrates how important sustainable tourism is for the entire sector.  We were also delighted, but not surprised, to see every finalist in the Ecotourism Category was ECO Certified.

“We continue to see a major focus for sustainable tourism operations, and we are proud the certifications of Ecotourism Australia maintain world’s best practice in this regard. An increasing number of operators, as well as destinations, are seeking ECO Certification to uphold best practice in sustainability.

“After the challenges of the past two years, Australia’s tourism operators have remained hopeful and determined, and these awards are a testament to the perseverance and community of the tourism industry as we now look to the future.”

Recognised in multiple awards were ECO Certified operators Pennicott Wilderness Journeys (Wilson’s Promontory Cruises) with two gold (New Tourism Business and Major Tour and Transport Operators) and Red Cat Adventures with one gold and one silver (Adventure Tourism and Major Tour and Transport Operator).

Pennicott QATA 2021

(Pictured: Pennicott Wilderness Journeys win gold for Major Tour and Transport Operator)

These successes reaffirm the remarkably high calibre of Ecotourism operators across the country and the resilience and determination of tourism businesses considering the challenges of the past two years.


Congratulations to our ECO Certified award winners:

Major Tourist Attractions

Silver – Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary (QLD)

Bronze – Taronga Western Plains Zoo (NSW)

Tourist Attractions

Bronze – Oakvale Wildlife Park (NSW)


Gold – Live Ningaloo (WA)

Silver – Murray River Trails (SA)

Bronze – Tasmanian Walking Company (TAS)

Cultural Tourism

Silver – Venture North Safaris (NT)

Major Tour and Transport Operators

Gold – Pennicott Wilderness Journeys (TAS)

Silver – Red Cat Adventures (QLD)

Tour and Transport Operators

Silver – The Hike Collective (WA)

Bronze – Uluru Camel Tours (NT)

Adventure Tourism

Gold – Red Cat Adventures (QLD)

Silver – Bendleby Ranges (SA)

Tourism Marketing and Campaigns

Gold – Gippsland: All Kinds of Wonder (VIC)

Hosted Accommodation

Gold – Narrows Escape Rainforest Retreat (QLD)

New Tourism Business

Gold – Wilson’s Promontory Cruises (Pennicott Wilderness Journeys) (VIC)



Out to make a difference and help keep our country litter-free is the Dolphin Discovery Centre (DDC) in Bunbury, Western Australia, with their recent Storm Chasers Program. Volunteers from the local community and staff of the DDC come together whenever there has been a storm to clear the beach of litter and debris, keeping the environment clean and protecting local wildlife. Every month, these volunteers clear hundreds of kilometres of coastline, bushland and forests of litter while also monitoring for wildlife in need of help such as sea turtles, birdlife, seals, and dolphins.


Through their partnership with the Perth Zoo and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA), the DDC can assist in the rescue, recovery, and release of distressed and injured animals, such as the endangered Loggerhead Turtle, that they find during their beach clean-up. Since being tagged, 24 Loggerheads are currently due for release in late February/March; a testament to the necessity of this initiative to locate and rescue stranded marine life.

This coordinated community clean-up also provides essential data to national databases, such as Tangaroa Blue and Keep Australia Beautiful, by asking volunteers to take photos of the area and record information. Uploading this data aids with research efforts to fight pollution at its cause. After photos are taken, the waste is disposed of in onsite bins for appropriate waste management and recycling. The DDC also recently acquired a grant to help expand the Stormchaser Program by purchasing bags, gloves, and pick-up tools for volunteers to use, as well as a trailer to help transport the rubbish.

Stormchasers kit

Through educational videos and raising awareness, the DDC has helped to create a movement that is growing larger by the week. On Clean Up Australia Day 2021, the centre saw over 80 people clean up 40 kilometres of beach and this year they are hoping to go bigger and better! But this Storm Chasers Initiative is not just for big occasions; it is a project the community can undertake on any day to do their bit for the environment. Picking up rubbish is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to make a difference and protect the planet.

The DDC has also established a Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Environment Fund to support their vital conservation, education and research programs via donations and fundraising activities. Other important activities undertaken by the organisation include coral propagation and artificial reef seeding, marine education, and rescue and rehabilitation projects.

Campaigns such as the Stormchaser Program are a great way to get involved in your local community and help Keep Australia Beautiful. If you would like to find out more about their conservation initiatives, join the Stormchasers Program or make a contribution, contact the Dolphin Discovery Centre by email at [email protected] or check out their website here

Image credit: Dolphin Discovery Centre


Naveze is a digital way-finding app for indoor and outdoor experiences that empowers visitors to make their own way through a site or destination, including showgrounds, public gardens, and sports venues. Through inclusion of points of interest like carparks and toilets, Naveze can help to enhance the overall visitor experience through personalised service. Satellite and street views, estimated travel times, detailed direction and accessibility routes are additional key aspects of the mapping technology that help to set Naveze apart.

Naveze is a tool that is suited to tourism organisations and experience-driven sites, where stories are often told by travelling and navigating the area and where connection with surroundings is of importance.

To find out more about how Naveze works, visit their website or check out this short video.


Our newest business member is seeking to pave the way for sustainability in the design industry – welcome to the Ecotourism Australia family Doepel Marsh Architects + Planners!

With 35 years of practice across 12 industry sectors, including residential, commercial, health care and hospitality, Doepel Marsh Architects + Planners have established themselves as a popular boutique firm in Subiaco, WA. The company maintains an international client base and prides itself on its Imagine, Challenge, Solve creative process.

Where possible, plans are designed to integrate with the natural landscape and setting for a cohesive look. Additionally, consideration is put towards ensuring cultural significance of, and any potential Indigenous artifacts at, the site are protected.

To discover more about Doepel Marsh Architects + Planners, head to their website or get in touch.

S.LI.DES. project aims at fostering cross border cooperation among cultural destinations

The project involved eleven partners: five tourism cities (the Cities of Venice and Bari and SIPRO Ferrara in Italy, DURA in Dubrovnik and the Tourist Board in Sibenik) and six technical partners: Ca’ Foscari University Venice–Dept of Management as Lead Partner; three international tourism and mobility research centres (CISET and CAST in Italy and Turizam in Croatia) and two training bodies with an expertise in craftsmanship and handicrafts (Ecipa in Italy and the Craft college of Rijeka in Croatia).