Latest news and insights from various sources relating to UN Sustainable Development Goals.

MEDIA RELEASE: HOW CONSERVATION AND TOURISM ARE REBUILDING AUSTRALIA’S TOURISM SECTOR

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.

Great Ocean Road VIC Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority

Photo: Great Ocean Road / Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority

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.”

Bellingen 2 Dangar Falls Dorrigo NSW Tom Woods

Photo: Dangar Falls, Dorrigo NSW (Bellingen Shire) / Tom Woods

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.”

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Photo: NSW’s Mid Coast is among the three newest destinations to join Ecotourism Australia’s ECO Destination Certification program, thanks to funding from WWF-Australia / Rob Mulally

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.

 

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Media contact: Lina Cronin, Communications Manager: [email protected], 0422 325 488

 

 

LAY WASTE TO LANDFILL: CRUISE MAROOCHY ECO TOURS CANS PLASTIC BOTTLES

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.

Cruise Maroochy Eco Tours QLD another holding wallaby water

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.

Cruise Maroochy Eco Tours QLD wallaby water on table

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.”

Cruise Maroochy Eco Tours QLD cheersing

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

TEA TREE HOLLOW – THE DIGITAL DETOX EXPERIENCE

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.

TTH Image1

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. 

TTH Image 2

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.

Feel like need a nature break? Visit their website and Facebook page to book a stay with Tea Tree Hollow.

All photo credits: Tea Tree Hollow

LAKES BEACHFRONT HOLIDAY PARK ACHIEVE NATURE TOURISM CERTIFICATION

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.

Lakes Beachfront Holiday Park VIC Activities

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.

Lakes Beachfront Holiday Park VIC Kids activities

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.

Lakes Beachfront Holiday Park VIC Accommodation

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. 

Congratulations again to Lakes Beachfront Holiday Park for joining the Ecotourism Australia family!  To learn more about Lakes Beachfront Holiday Park, please visit their Facebook page or website.

[All photo credits: Lakes Beachfront Holiday Park] 

WELCOME FIFTH COHORT OF MASTER REEF GUIDES

Master Reef Guides are scattered along the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in Queensland, residing as far north as the Ribbons Reefs, all the way down south to Lady Elliot Island. Currently, there are 13 in the Southern Great Barrier Reef (GBR), 40 in Far North Queensland, 22 in Central Queensland and 8 roaming at this time.

ECO certified Great Barrier Reef tourism operators can apply to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to become High Standard Tourism Operators. High Standard Tourism Operators receive a number of benefits, including the ability to nominate Master Reef Guides. But what is a Master Reef Guide?

Master Reef Guides in their uniforms walking on jetty towards the water

[Photo credit: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority]

Master Reef Guides are striving to be the world’s leading coral reef guides sharing the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Each Master Reef Guide cohort undergoes rigorous training to achieve their prestigious title. The program is developed and delivered by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), a Protected Area Manager member, the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators and Tourism and Events Queensland, and ECO certified tourism operators with the philosophy that storytelling and reef interpretation are integral to fostering appreciation for the iconic Great Barrier Reef in travellers.

This year, nineteen Master Reef Guides were added to the Master Reef Guide family from nineteen ECO certified operators.

“We thought we were coming to learn more about coral polyps and zooxanthellae, and we have come away from this knowing about so much more, about the history of this place…” said Madison Drabble from Advanced Ecotourism certified Lady Musgrave Experience.

GBRMPA QLD MRG

[Photo credit: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority]

The group spent one week on Heron Island near the Tropic of Capricorn, building on their scientific knowledge of the reef and learning storytelling techniques which will be the key to educating travellers coming to see the Great Barrier Reef each year. Alistair Chegwidden from Advanced Ecotourism certified Down Under Cruise & Dive praised the importance of storytelling after his experience, stating “This is the next step to make sure that we have someone on that boat to make sure that those guests are getting the right information and having fun.”

The Master Reef Guide program was led by world leading mentors and educators imparting knowledge from their life’s work onto future Great Barrier Reef ambassadors. The program was facilitated by Fiona Merida, Assistant Director Strategic Engagement and Fred Nucifora, Director Strategic Engagement. Expert trainers included James Cook University Distinguished Professor Sean Ulm who shared research on the coastal occupation of Australia and its cultural significance. , World renowned Cinematographer and shark researcher, Richard Fitzpatrick, Director of Biopixel, passed on his wealth of knowledge on reef biology and , cinematography and demonstrated the power of piecing this together to tell an incredible story. The field school program also featured researchers such as Dr. Jimmy White with a PhD in Marine Biology, the first to track Dwarf Minke Whales with satellite transmitters, and Dr. Jessica Stella whose PhD delved into the effects of climate change on tiny invertebrates that live in branching corals in the Great Barrier Reef. Paul Groves, Project Manager from the GBRMPA presented on The Importance of Reef Monitoring along with Peta Ross, Assistant Director, Indigenous Compliance, who gave the Master Reef Guides an unforgettable session on Cultural Awareness and the importance of Sea Country to Traditional Owners.

Ocean Rafting QLD Toby James Taylor MRG

[Photo credit: Ocean Rafting. L-R: Ocean Rafting Skipper/Eco Host/Master Reef Guide, Toby Lodewijks, Ocean Rafting Skipper/Environmental Manager/Master Reef Guide, James Unsworth and Ocean Rafting Eco Host/Master Reef Guide, Taylor Chen.]

“The quality of guest speakers that we have had has been second to none,” stated Toby Lodewijks from Advanced Ecotourism certified, Climate Action Innovator, Green Travel Leader and Hall of Fame member Ocean Rafting. Toby’s experience in the fifth cohort of Master Reef Guides means that he joins two of his colleagues, James Unsworth and Taylor Chen, in holding this prestigious title. Certified with Ecotourism Australia for over twenty years, Ocean Rafting now has the largest team of accredited Master Reef Guides in the Whitsundays Region. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet some amazing people from all walks of life, whether that’s science based, adventure based, cultural based…” said Toby of his momentous achievement.

The program’s aim to produce experts who educate and inspire travellers is a vital part of marine conservation and comes in time with conversations on the world stage about the importance of protecting the Great Barrier Reef. The Master Reef Guide program is part of an array of concerted efforts to share the unique beauty of the Great Barrier Reef. .

Ecotourism Australia congratulates the 5th cohort of Master Reef Guides!