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


Ecotourism Australia’s Global Eco Conference will be held in Cairns from 2-4 December this year, surrounded by two World Heritage sites: The Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest. 

This year’s conference will once again bring together the world’s leading speakers on ecotourism, sustainability and responsible tourism, as well as tourism operators, protected area managers, tourism organisations, Indigenous bodies and researchers. 

“This is the longest-running ecotourism conference in the world,” says Claire Ellis, Ecotourism Australia Chair. 

“It’s been going consecutively for 26 years and every year, we are astonished by the high calibre of speakers and attendees. It’s our main event of the year and certainly one not to be missed.”

With last year’s conference attracting 230 delegates from 20 countries for three packed days of keynote presentations and workshops around the theme of ‘Ecotourism – It’s Time’, this year’s event is sure to again provide fertile ground for meaningful discussions and knowledge-sharing among participants. 

Ecotourism Australia would like to thank the Department of Innovation, Tourism Industry Development and the Commonwealth Games (DITID), the Department of Environment and Science (DES) and Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) for their generous support of this year’s conference.

Further event details and a call for papers will be advised shortly.

CNBC Writes About the GSTC Destination Criteria

“In order for a destination to be certified as sustainable, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council outlines a list of criteria. It ranges from supporting local businesses, to conserving natural resources, and encouraging visitors to participate in the community.” Separately, places like Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park in Montana are following a similar […]

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Arival: Are Sustainability Certifications Worth It?

Arival Looks into the question: “Are Sustainability Certifications Worth It?”   There is a clear business opportunity for tour operators to please travelers who care about sustainability a little—and to earn new customers from the passionate travelers who care about sustainability a lot. Certifications can help prove your company’s sustainable practices, and offer assurance to […]

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They say that the strength of the team is each individual member and the strength of each member is the team. This sentiment is certainly represented at Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort on the Great Barrier Reef, where instead of nominating one Everyday Ecotourism Hero, Environmental Manager Chelsea Godson could not help but nominate four!

Credit Colin Baker

Photo: Colin Baker

Situated in a highly protected ‘green zone,’ Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort (LEIER) is often seen as a leader in sustainable tourism. The resort runs almost entirely on renewable energy, including solar and gas technology, and has won numerous awards for its dedication and commitment to sustainable ecotourism principles and exceptional customer service.  In this article, the last of our Everyday Ecotourism Heroes series*, we’re taking you behind the scenes to meet some of the team who drive LEIER’s sustainability mission and initiatives.

Robert Thomas

Robert Thomas  

Robbie Thomas, (aka Bob) is the LEIER Project Manager and plays a key role in moving the resort towards its target of being powered by 100% renewable energy by 2020. Since 2009, Bob’s attitude and commitment to sustainability have proven invaluable to the resort. Ten years on and to this day, Bob has maintained incredible resolve and problem-solving abilities that inspire and energise others. When problems are presented, he says with a smile, “Oh wow! How are we going to fix this?”.

“He inspires through his ability to experiment, overcome problems through tenacity and effort, pushing boundaries and taking risks with the intent to help others or the environment with everything from renewable energy, [to] IT, to the food composting system,” explains Chelsea.

“He always finds a way of making things work even when told it’s not going to work.”

John Meech

John Meech

It’s the people who expect nothing in return, but deserve the most, who are often the greatest assets to our communities. John Meech has been a volunteer at LEIER for 15 years and his dedication has left an incredible legacy of inspiration and on the ground conservation action.

John – whose interest in Lady Elliot Island started when he was a Ranger for the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service close to 20 years ago – has been involved in numerous volunteering projects at Lady Elliot, including conducting turtle research, educating guests and establishing the first native plant nursery on the island, called ‘John’s Nursery’. He started this nursery with a wheelbarrow and shovel, growing cuttings, digging holes and planting nearly 100 trees per year over the winter.

John’s work has inspired many others to contribute, including the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and other volunteers, kicking off an incredible team of people committed to helping conserve and improve Lady Elliot Island.

“John was always willing and encouraged guests to participate in his work with turtles and with the revegetation program. This helped improve the guest experience and inspired them to act for turtle conservation and contribute to environmental conservation,” explains Chelsea.

He also had the opportunity to meet HRH the Prince of Wales when he visited Lady Elliot Island, where he was able to share his knowledge of turtles.

 Jim and Annie Buck

Jim and Annie Buck

In another example of dedication and commitment, Jim and Annie Buck have played a pivotal role as conservation volunteers on both Lady Elliot Island and Lady Musgrave Island on the Great Barrier Reef for over 30 years. Having worked at LEIER in a volunteer capacity for nearly 10 years, Jim and Annie recently became permanent members of the team as Ecosystem Management Officer and Assistant.

The relationship between LEIER owner Peter Gash and Jim and Annie actually began some 33 years ago, when Jim and Annie were volunteering to monitor turtles on Lady Musgrave Island and Peter managed a tourism operation there. When Peter took over LEIER in 2005, it wasn’t long before the Bucks came to the island for a holiday and offered to volunteer their time there as well.

“Over 20 years [at Lady Musgrave Island] Jim and Annie were volunteers EVERY summer for 5 weeks at a time,” explains Chelsea. They did this all whilst holding down ‘real’ jobs and raising their daughters.

Today, Jim and Annie are responsible for acres of planted native trees, exotic weed eradication, turtle monitoring and guest education on the island. These Ecotourism Heroes have always taken the time to talk to guests and take them out at night to see turtles, making a huge positive impact on guest experiences – and in turn helping the natural environment through education.

“Jim and Annie motivate others, leading by example and being out in the field for hours on end and doing such great work that people naturally are curious as to what is going on. […] They are selfless, hardworking and passionate [and] their high quality and extensive work has had an incredibly positive environmental impact on the Island – and on our business.”

Thank you, Robert, John, Jim and Annie for all that you do and to Chelsea for nominating such a fabulous group of Everyday Ecotourism Heroes!

Lady Elliot turtle FB

*For more on our Everyday Ecotourism Heroes campaign, check out the feature articles below:


[Photos: Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort]

GSTC Training Program Announces New Partner, mascontour

GSTC Training Partner: mascontour Sustainable Tourism Consulting & Communication The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) announces a new partnership with mascontour, a leading global sustainable tourism consultancy based in Berlin, Germany. GSTC will work with mascontour’s team of expert sustainable tourism consultants to deliver training and skills development opportunities for tourism industry professionals. One […]

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