We are currently facing an unprecedented global health crisis, with repercussions that are being felt in all sectors of society and the economy, especially in the tourism sector. However, at moments like this it is important to remember that tourism has shown a strong resilience to adapt, innovate and recuperate from adversity and we should get prepared for recovery.
At an initial phase, domestic and intraregional tourism is expected to catch up faster than intercontinental travel. The impacts of actions such as restriction of movements have contributed to international tourism coming to a standstill and therefore many tourists are considering alternatives such as travelling closer to home while finding simple pleasures and reducing carbon emissions.
In addition to the growing tourism demand for more sustainable options, it is important to consider post COVID-19 trends such as the preference of travellers for outdoor activities such as long-distance walking activities, taking holidays in their home country, and considering the environment and travel emissions when travelling.
Booking.com’s 2019 Annual Sustainable Travel Report found that ‘sustainable stays are growing in popularity, with almost three quarters (73%) of global travellers intending to stay at least once in an eco-friendly or green accommodation when looking at the year ahead’.
These new and past trends represent benefits for the recovery of the ecotourism sector, which is founded on sustainability and looking towards partnerships and adaptation actions. We are happy to see that many of our members have been putting into action the ideas outlined in the UNWTO COVID-19 Tourism Recovery Technical Assistance Package.
We would like to highlight the following examples and encourage tour operators to continue with their recovery plan:
- Parks Australia have been helping travellers to imagine their future travel experience by providing expert advice and recommendations to inspire future planning and instil confidence in trip decisions. This aligns with UNWTO’s statement: “Stay home today. Travel tomorrow.”.
- Crystal Creek Meadows Luxury Cottages & Day Spa Retreat have been an example of using social media to notify guests about safety procedures. Informing guests about existing protocols in an easy and updated manner reassures travellers that they can get back to travelling with confidence.
- South Australia has been leader in designing a domestic tourism marketing strategy which identifies products and destinations particularly appealing to different segments of the domestic market. Understanding what domestic travellers want and love; e.g. food, adventure, and romance, etc. helps to customize their online experience.
- Ocean Rafting has focused on raising awareness of local experiences for local travellers, aiming to educate and familiarize locals about the importance of domestic tourism to accelerate recovery.
Congratulations to our members for their recovery actions and for being an example to others.
[Header image: Kosciuszko National Park by Steve Bruce/Unsplash]
Progress against key environment targets in 2019 takes SITA a step closer to carbon neutrality by 2022
Ximena Alvis is one of the four candidates of the Ecotourism Australia – University of Queensland PhD scholarships, working on the sustainable destinations topic. Ximena just finished the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Sustainable Tourism Training Program (STTP) as part of her PhD’s research phase and shares her thoughts on this course that she says offers practical insights and effective steps to help participants improve their sustainability practices.
EA: Why did you decide to take part in this training?
XA: I always wanted to do the GSTC course but now it seemed even more appropriate to understand how the criteria works, especially the destination criteria, as this is my PhD topic. I believe having a better understanding of the value of these principles and criteria will help me understand the whole picture, and how important the engagement of stakeholders is in a destination in order to have a long but successful journey of sustainability.
EA: Who is the Global Sustainable Tourism Council?
XA: As per the GSTC website: “The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) establishes and manages global sustainable standards, known as the GSTC Criteria. There are two sets: Destination Criteria for public policy-makers and destination managers, and Industry Criteria for hotels and tour operators. These are the guiding principles and minimum requirements that any tourism business or destination should aspire to reach in order to protect and sustain the world’s natural and cultural resources, while ensuring tourism meets its potential as a tool for conservation and poverty alleviation.” (GSTC website: www.gstcouncil.org/about/about-us/)
EA: Who participates in GSTC’s Sustainable Tourism Training Program?
XA: In the one month online course that I took, there were over 40 participants from all over the world, and from different parts of the tourism industry: tour operators, hotel personnel, government officials, students, tourism consultants, entrepreneurs, academics, and more. The course was eye opening in many ways. For example, the course gave us the opportunity to keep updated with the topic of sustainable tourism and the efforts that organizations, governments, the industry and academics are making. We also learnt how sustainability helps ‘Build Back Better’ and can help improve the way tourism is working. There is recognition that sustainability is a long but necessary journey to take on, especially in this COVID era.
EA: What kinds of topics did the course cover?
XA: The course gave an overview of the sustainable tourism principles and the roles of the GSTC in promoting the adoption of those principles, as well as key considerations for addressing sustainability challenges. These include stakeholder engagement, education, communications, capacity building, environmental impacts, visitor satisfaction and how to ensure local culture and traditions are incorporated into visitor experiences in a respectful manner.
EA: Would you recommend this training program to others?
XA: I would highly recommend Ecotourism Australia members to take the course if they haven’t already. It is a great opportunity to make new professional contacts with people that have the same sustainable goals as EA members, and to keep updated with information and new discoveries in the sustainable world.
The GSTC Certificate in Sustainable Tourism runs 5 to 6 times a year, the training classes are twice a week (1 hour per day) in a 4-week online course. The cost depends in membership and time of enrolment, from US$ 395 to US$ 495. For more information visit: www.gstcouncil.org/sustainable-tourism-training/ or contact [email protected]
Mindful Travel Solutions is a small travel agency with a difference. Under the motto of ‘by travelling the world, we can make a world of difference,’ this company, run by passionate traveller Amanda, focuses on providing travel memories that last a lifetime while preserving the things travellers love most about the places they visit – the people, animals and environment.
While Mindful Travel Solutions provide travel agency services for worldwide adventures, they specialise in eco stays in Australia and Asia and donate 10% of all their profits to Cambodian charities focused on creating educational opportunities and scholarships, protecting against child trafficking and providing food and supplies to those in need.
Amanda has over a decade of travel sales experience and a degree in international development, making her the perfect person to ensure her clients’ holidays leave lasting positive memories, not lasting negative impacts. She cares deeply about both her clients and the destinations she sends them to, and it’s this focus on genuine care and connection which sets her travel agency apart.
Based in Melbourne but easily contactable online, Mindful Travel Solutions offers genuine, personalised service, flexible payment options and a fantastic option for those seeking memorable, ethical and responsible travel experiences.
To find out more, visit the Mindful Travel Solutions website.
[Images: Mindful Travel Solutions]
Congratulations to BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort for achieving Ecotourism Certification!
BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort is located in Airlie Beach and offers self-contained holiday cabins as well as camping and caravan sites. The family-owned business is one of Queensland’s leading resort holiday parks with onsite activities for the whole family.
For BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort, preserving and protecting the area’s ecosystems and natural resources is a priority. The resort has an on-site nursery that propagates every plant used throughout the park. You can find plants like neem tress across the resort, a native deterrent for sandflies, as well as numerous flowering tropical trees and shrubs to attract native butterflies and birdlife.
Local residents include wallabies, bandicoots, ducks and green tree frogs and the resort is committed to educating guests on how to not interfere with wildlife, encouraging them to only take photos.
The resort provides a true eco experience by offering a wide variety of eco-friendly activities and accommodation options. Accommodation options range from traditional camping and caravan sites to budget-friendly cabins and luxurious condos.
When in the resort, immerse yourself in gardens with thousands of plants used to create an enchanted tropical wonderland, enjoy enormous outdoor balconies and the brand new waterslide park.
BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort is committed to sustainable practices throughout the management of its business following the ‘reduce, reuse, and recycle’ principle. Its dedication to reducing emissions is accomplished by the use of bikes for transport where possible, electric buggies, low flow shower heads, and a solar roof mounted system on the conference centre and maintenance shed roofs to generate power.
Congratulations again on joining the Ecotourism Australia family!
[All photos thanks to BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort]