Three of Australia’s bushfire-prone regions are joining the push to build Australia’s tourism sector back better using sustainability principles, thanks to funding from the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia (WWF-Australia) and Ecotourism Australia’s internationally recognised ECO Destination Certification program.
The Great Ocean Road (VIC), Barrington Coast (NSW) and Bellingen Shire (NSW) are the three newest destinations to embark on the journey of certification, joining 18 other destinations around Australia.
Ecotourism Australia CEO Rod Hillman said it was a sign the industry was moving in the right direction.
“Australia’s destinations have been impacted by bushfires, COVID and a host of other natural disasters. To rebuild with a focus on the principles of sustainability will not only help these destinations to have long-term economic stability but ensure that any growth in the region is managed with the natural environment, community and culture at the core,” said Mr Hillman.
Each destination will be supported by WWF-Australia with a two-year $30,000 package that covers all costs to progress through Ecotourism Australia’s ECO Destination program.
“Communities that rely on tourism are hurting, but we know when COVID restrictions ease there will be travellers who are hungry for sustainable tourism experiences. We hope this growing partnership with Ecotourism Australia will lead the charge in helping Australia’s nature-based tourism sector get back on its feet and support attractions that are good for people and nature,” said Dermot O’Gorman, CEO of WWF-Australia.
In Bellingen Shire, it’s the community itself which is driving positive change:
“The residents of the shire have given council a very clear mandate with respect to tourism,” said Michael Grieve, Manager of Economic and Business Development at Bellingen Shire Council.
“Bellingen Shire Council places a strong emphasis on tourism management as opposed to tourism marketing. It manages tourism in line with community ideals, which include celebration and protection of our natural environment, respect and acknowledgment for Gumbaynggirr Culture and preservation and recognition of our unique, diverse community and culture.”
For the Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority, becoming a certified ECO Destination is providing a framework for the new destination management authority to protect, conserve and rehabilitate the region’s natural assets and also determine policy directions and infrastructure development for the future of the region.
“We decided to start the journey to become an ECO Destination as the process will support us to assess existing practices and develop a plan to achieve responsible tourism for the Great Ocean Road region,” said Jodie Sizer, Chief Executive Officer of the Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority.
“We are eager to partner with Traditional Owners, local government, fellow land managers and the tourism sector to ensure the Great Ocean Road is a strong, well-managed destination – that offers high quality experiences while protecting the remarkable natural and cultural values of the region.”
For visitors, travelling within a certified ECO Destination provides reassurance that the region is backed by a strong, well-managed commitment to sustainable practices and provides high-quality nature-based tourism experiences.
“The Barrington Coast region is highly regarded for the quality and diversity of its natural areas and biodiversity values. A significant part of our visitors’ activity time is spent within a natural area or with a focus on the experiences these natural areas provide. We want to continue to build an environment in which ecotourism thrives, offering genuine and authentic ecotourism experiences,” said Sharon Bultitude, Destination Management Coordinator from Mid Coast Council (Barrington Coast).
It is in these immersive ecotourism experiences that conservation and tourism intertwine.
“For the last two years, we have been excited to work in close partnership with WWF-Australia, driving real positive change for our regions and showcasing how the conservation and tourism industries can collaborate for mutual benefit,” said Mr Hillman.
Media contact: Lina Cronin, Communications Manager: [email protected], 0422 325 488
For many, landfill is a convenient and final waste management solution for materials that tend to hang around longer than we wish they would. But for some tourism operators, diverting waste from landfill was the only option for a sustainable future – and it meant getting creative. The waste series ‘Lay Waste to Landfill’ explores the outstanding innovations from our ECO certified operators who go above and beyond to turn their waste management systems into a force for good.
For Kate at Cruise Maroochy Eco Tours, cutting out plastic was a no-brainer. Kate has always felt that the sale of water from single-use plastic bottles was unnecessary, and as one of the owners of an Advanced Ecotourism certified and Hall of Fame member business, plastic water bottles completely go against her philosophy.
Cruise Maroochy Eco Tours’ prime location in the Sunshine Coast region of Queensland gives them incredible access to some of the state’s most captivating marine wildlife. Strategically timing their cruises to minimise their environmental impact, Cruise Maroochy’s educational journeys broaden their customers’ appreciation for the natural environment with in-depth commentary throughout each cruise.
As important as it was for Kate to remove the ever-present plastic water bottles from her business, the solution was not so straightforward. Her determination to find a material and design that was both practical and easily recyclable was a challenge, as Kate stated, “There are very real problems faced by the manufacturing & recycling industries of all glass, aluminium & plastic materials.” As her search continued, our recycling reality became all the more clear.
While glass is perceived to be one of the more easily recycled materials, its production can mean up to 33% more greenhouse gases are produced than when plastic is produced. Not only do its emissions and the immense energy needed for production outweigh the benefits, but Australia’s glass recycling system does not mean that old bottles will be created into new ones. The contamination of products means new bottles are discoloured and faulty. From a tourist’s perspective, the impracticality of carrying around a delicate, yet heavy, item makes the material unsuitable for replacing plastic bottles.
Finally, Kate landed on a suitable option. Using significantly less energy to produce and being one of the most recyclable materials, aluminium cans are now sold at Cruise Maroochy Eco Tours for guests who are without a water bottle of their own.
“Single-use plastics did not fit with our waste management policy, so we literally canned them,” Kate said.
“We also offer free pouring water available to all of our guests,” Kate added, however when visitors are left with the decision to buy water, they know they are treading lightly on the environment through Cruise Maroochy’s initiative.
Kate practices what she preaches throughout each of Cruise Maroochy’s educational Eco Tours, seeing an appreciation from her customers for her uncomplicated commitment to sustainability.
“Customers are quick to pick up on our authenticity and compliment us on this.”
Now, what she calls for is people to continue to educate themselves on the state of Australia’s recycling industry beyond a Cruise Maroochy Eco Tour, as she recognises a lack of awareness around how our waste is used after we throw it away to be dangerous. People pressure, she says, is driving intelligent companies to conduct valuable market research into what consumers value – and that’s wastes reduction.
“So, keep the pressure up people – always.”
Do you have a novel waste management solution that stands out amongst the rest? Let us know at [email protected] to be featured in our ‘Lay Waste to Landfill’ series.
All images courtesy of Cruise Maroochy Eco Tours
Are you searching for a hassle-free getaway from your hectic day-to-day lifestyle? Tea Tree Hollow, Australia’s most recent Nature Tourism certified operator, offers you and your loved ones the best.
Tea Tree Hollow, a four-bedroom, two-bathroom property with a fully equipped kitchen and laundry, provides comfortable sleeping for eight people not far from Sydney and Canberra. This 40-acre unspoilt property nestled in a valley, surrounded by bush and pastoral land, provides a unique rural Australian experience for anyone searching for a tranquil and private weekend getaway or week-long holiday.
The accommodation features a handmade wood-fired pizza oven, BBQ and outdoor dining area, airconditioned open plan living area, fire pit with seating, herb garden adjacent to the house, covered veranda with cooling misting system, short trails and walks to explore nature without leaving the property, expansive grassy fields, purpose-built yoga deck, Japanese raked stone garden, outdoor claw foot bath with expansive views, unfenced dam about 180m from the house, privacy with no other houses in close proximity, board games and kids’ books in the living area – all of which offer an ideal vacation for couples, families or groups of friends in need of rest and rejuvenation.
By achieving Nature Tourism Certification, Tea Tree Hollow has demonstrated that they are leading the way as an operator in terms of sustainability and provision of authentic, high-quality nature-based tourism experiences. Antonia Stephenson and Andrew Stephenson, owners of Tea Tree Hollow, are passionate about providing an eco-friendly experience to visitors by preserving and improving the biodiversity of this 40 acres property. The purposely built compact house helps to leave a small physical and carbon footprint to preserve the pristine condition of the property which also ensures a healthy ecosystem in return. Their efforts in safeguarding a healthy ecosystem have become a success as hundreds of species of flora and fauna are flourishing within the property.
An off-grid solar power system with battery storage, a 58,000l rainwater tank to harvest rainwater from the roof, LED lighting, furniture built from up-cycled pallets where possible and a re-forestation programme within the property are just a few among many significant initiatives the owners of this property have taken to be sustainable in their business.
We congratulate Tea Tree Hollow for achieving ECO certification at the Nature Tourism level and hope this will be an inspiration to continue their best practices.
All photo credits: Tea Tree Hollow
Looking for a holiday escape on the magnificent 90 Mile Beach in the East Gippsland region with fun activities and relaxation for the whole family? Our newest certified member, Lakes Beachfront Holiday Park, may be your perfect place for your next family holiday.
We are excited to announce that this holiday park has recently achieved Nature Tourism Certification. Congratulations!
Lakes Beachfront Holiday Park is a unique holiday park, located in Lakes Entrance in Victoria at Lake Tyers Beach – only 3 hours’ drive from Melbourne. The park is set in a beautiful, quiet bush landscape, with direct access to secluded beach frontage on magnificent 90 Mile Beach, offering a full range of holiday accommodation, caravan, and camp sites.
At Lakes Beachfront Holiday Park, you can choose to simply relax and read your favourite book or explore the delights and natural wonders of the East Gippsland region. Unwind by relaxing by the pool or by indulging in golf, fishing, surfing, waterskiing, beach volleyball, bocce, tennis or long walks on the beach. Relax and enjoy the atmosphere of an open fire.
A range of child-friendly options are all set up in a beautiful and peaceful environment with Koala Kid’s Club programs in the school holiday season and other activities including; a large solar heated pool with spa and toddler beach pool, jumping pillow, playground, giant chess game and plenty of room for bike riding.
The team at Lakes Beachfront Holiday Park is passionate about preserving the beautiful patch of East Gippsland and aims to foster responsible sustainable environmental management in everything they do. The villas and cottages are designed and built with environmental initiatives to maximise energy and water efficiency. This includes ceilings constructed to make use of natural lighting, LED lighting in all rooms, solar heating, instant gas hot water systems and bore water on gardens and pool.
Lakes Beachfront also strives to improve the physical and biological environment of the park. Indigenous plants like Banksias and Tuckeroos are planted around the gardens and camping sites for biodiversity conservation to provide shelter and feed for birds and other animals during extreme weather conditions.
Holidaying with Lakes Beachfront Holiday Park supports the sustainability of the region. The team sources from local suppliers and the park employs local people. Partnerships with local, climate-friendly businesses and strictly adhering to local waste and recycling programmes are just some of the park’s other sustainability initiatives.
[All photo credits: Lakes Beachfront Holiday Park]