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

SHOULD WE FEEL GUILTY ABOUT FLYING?

Whilst it may be the newest phase of a global trend toward more ethical consumerism, the flight shaming movement poses an interesting challenge to Australia’s ecotourism industry.

Flight shaming? What’s that?

Unless you’ve been on a media hiatus, you’ve no doubt read the reports from around the world heralding #flygskam, or flight shaming, as the latest buzzword and lifestyle choice for the environmentally conscious traveller. The Swedish word flygskam translates to the guilt or feeling of embarrassment caused by stepping aboard an aeroplane, knowing you are making the biggest contribution a single citizen could make towards climate change. The word has encouraged a mass movement in Europe to boycott flying and preference other transport options, such as trains.

Why is flying a big deal?

The awareness of air travel being a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions is not new. A 2018 study found that between 2009 and 2013, the global carbon footprint of the tourism industry increased from 3.9 to 4.5 GtCO2e, four times more than previously estimated. Today, the sector accounts for about 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, a large part of which comes from transportation, including flights. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), in its most recent annual report, showed that the amount of CO2 emitted by the airline sector alone increased from 860 million tonnes in 2017 to 905 million tonnes in 2018, with an expected increase to 927 million tonnes in 2019.

Drilling it down, that means that a return flight from Sydney to Singapore creates a warming effect equivalent to 6.2 tonnes of CO2 per person. A Melbourne to London return trip, conversely, notches up 16.8 tonnes.  Evidently, Australians’ love affair with flying comes at a cost, and we don’t mean to the wallet – interestingly, flight prices have decreased by 61% since 1998, after adjusting for inflation.

Girl looking at departure board

So, what does all this mean?

A report from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) details how the transport industry, in particular aviation, must drastically reduce emissions as a part of a world-wide commitment to limiting global warming to 1.5°C by 2100. The report highlights that this would require ‘rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes,’ including reducing CO2 emissions by about 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030.

Is this even possible?

For many Australians, flying has become a necessity – whether for work or to visit family and friends living across or outside of our island continent. Indeed, with almost half (49%) of Australians either born overseas or with at least one parent born abroad, international student numbers continuing to grow exponentially and contributing $32.4 billion to the Australian economy and alternative transport connections falling short particularly for long distances, it is hard to imagine how things can change in our own backyard. Besides, Australia is unavoidably a long-haul destination for most international visitors, and our tourism industry – particularly the ecotourism industry – relies heavily on international visitors and tourist dollars.

Clouds

So, is there a silver lining?

There’s a long way to go, but the airline industry is making progress. It is exciting to see experimental projects, such as Qantas and the agricultural technology group, Agrisoma Biosciences, growing mustard seeds in Australia in the hope of producing their first aviation biofuel seed crop by next year. Qantas and Jetstar have already trialled Australia’s first commercial Airbus 330 flight powered by a 50:50 mixture of conventional jet fuel and biofuel derived from cooking oil, and seem to be moving in the right direction.

Virgin Australia is also active in this space, supporting research into sourcing biofuel from sugar cane, algae and mallees, and partnering with American chemical renewable fuel supplier Geovo Inc. for a two-year trial program.

According to IATA’s Director of Aviation, Michael Gill, biofuel has the potential to cut emissions by up to 80%. Currently, it’s only filling 0.01% of the industry’s combined fuel tank, but this is likely because it costs 2-3 times the cost of traditional jet fuel. What many people don’t know is that the first biofuel-powered flight by a commercial airline happened some 11 years ago and that today, more than 100 global initiatives are working on elements of sustainable aviation fuel commercialization.

Despite this, IATA has some way to go if it is to reach its ambitious carbon reduction target of shaving 50% off flight-related CO2 emissions by 2050 compared to 2005.

What about carbon offsetting?

Carbon offsetting is the action of compensating for one’s emissions by investing or participating in schemes which aim to make equivalent reductions of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This is commonly done through activities such as tree planting or carbon sequestration. These schemes are designed to prevent, remove or reduce the release of emissions, but do they work?

According to a 2018 Climate Council study investigating climate change threats to Australia’s tourism industry, offsetting can mitigate some negative impacts of air travel, supports worthwhile renewable energy initiatives and encourages consumers to take action. However, a survey of 139 airlines showed that only one third of airlines are actively engaged in offsetting, and information provided to the public is often confusing and misleading.

This may account for the low uptake of voluntary carbon offsetting, with only 2-4% of travellers globally thought to be offsetting their flights (this number is slightly higher in Australia, with one study finding 10-16% of Australians had purchased carbon offsets in the past).

Another fundamental problem appears to be the lack of transparency and credibility in offset schemes. If a customer cannot see how their additional money is being spent, it is understandable that they are less willing to take part in offsetting. As research from 2019 shows, over half of the world’s travellers are more determined to make sustainable travel choices than they were a year ago, but they continue to face major barriers, including a lack of knowledge, when trying to put their beliefs into practice.

Plane with sunset

A vision for the future

Ecotourism Australia’s 500 certified ecotourism operators around Australia are already leading the charge when it comes to taking climate action. Coodlie Park Farm Retreat in South Australia, for example, has been offsetting 100% of its visitors’ emissions on its own property for close to 20 years and Red Cat Adventures, which won the 2018 Australian Tourism Award for Major Tour and Transport Operator, includes a ‘carbon neutral’ option for every booking made on their website.

At Ecotourism Australia, we envisage a future in which this creativity among tourism businesses continues to flourish, where offsetting your flights, as a traveller, is an opt-out, not an opt-in decision, and where a diverse range of localised offsetting options exist which have true and lasting positive impacts on the natural assets on which our sector depends.

In an industry driven by the needs and expectations of an increasingly eco-conscious traveller, staying ahead of the emissions game is no longer just a smart way to gain competitive advantage, but a necessity to ensure long-term business survival.

 

[Photos from Unsplash]

Vireo Srl is now GSTC-Accredited for Certifying Destinations

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is pleased to announce that Vireo Srl has achieved the ‘GSTC-Accredited’ status for certifying destinations.  Achieving the GSTC-Accredited status for certifying destinations means that a certification program is following processes and procedures that have been reviewed and approved by the GSTC Accreditation Panel in order to provide an […]

The post Vireo Srl is now GSTC-Accredited for Certifying Destinations appeared first on Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).

WELCOME TO THE INNAMINCKA HOTEL

Resting on the border of South Australia and Queensland, you will find a surprising outback oasis.

The Innamincka Hotel, which has just achieved Ecotourism Certification, is regarded an iconic meeting place for travellers, a hub for local tours and tourism, and an authentic outback pub experience. The word Innamincka is in fact derived from the Yandruwandha words ‘Yini’ and ‘mingka’ meaning ‘your waterhole’!

 Tourists Innamincka Hotel

 It’s a place steeped in history: In 1885 the Innamincka Hotel was built upon the banks of the Cooper Creek. Here, it thrived as a refuge for drovers, pastoral workers and shearers up until 1952. The entire town around the hotel struggled to stay viable with changes in modern transport and was declared a ghost town in 1956 after a devastating flood destroyed most buildings. It wasn’t until the early 1970s that the pub saw its revival, with a surge in 4WD vehicles and exponential growth in tourist demand for authentic outback experiences. The new Cooper Creek Hotel-Motel opened in 1973, which was subsequently renamed the Innamincka Hotel in 1983. Current owners Kym Fort and David Brook bought the hotel in 1999 and set about renovating and upgrading the infrastructure.

Historic Photo 

Today, the Innamincka Hotel in not just a hotel: guests have the chance to discover the delights of the Cooper Creek from the water, participate in 4WD tours of the majestic Coongie Lakes with experienced guides, camp along the banks of the Cooper Creek and enjoy the outback night sky under a blanket with the family at the Starlight Cinema.

Cruise

Including an iconic bar that remains largely untouched since the 70s, and an outback dining experience like no other, this hotel offers one of the most authentic Australian outback experiences while also focusing heavily on sustainability. The owners have worked hard to ensure a water filtration plant has been included to the property, ensuring every tap in the pub runs with clean potable water from the Cooper Creek. A considerable investment in solar power has also seen the property run off solar since 2017. Through their commitment to creating an authentic experience for their guests while preserving the natural environment within which they operate, the Innamincka Hotel has achieved Ecotourism certification for their Innamincka Hotel and Motel, Cooper Creek Cruises and land based tours. Congratulations, Innamincka, and welcome to the Ecotourism Australia family!

 

AN HONOURABLE MISSION

Passion is contagious and the team at Wajaana Yaam Gumbaynggirr Adventure Tours’ passion is second to none. This team oozes positivity, a love for what they do, but most of all a deep pride in their roots. Wajaana Yaam is 100% Aboriginal owned and operated. This not only provides direct employment for local community members but also creates an authentic experience for the guests who participate in their stand-up paddle board tours and walks.

With approval from a local Elder, guests are treated to authentic, unedited stories of the local culture, language and bush tucker, something which owner Clark Webb says is an honour to share:

“We are very honoured to be in a position to revitalise, teach and share our Gumbaynggirr language,” he notes. “Language is at the core of all our programs and we are of the opinion that keeping language alive and passing on to future generations is the most important work to be done. [Also], storytelling in our experiences connects our guest to our country on a level that they wouldn’t’ think was imaginable before.”

Wajaana Yaam Gumbaynggirr Adventure Tours 1

At Wajaana Yaam Gumbaynggirr Adventure Tours however, engaging the local community is not just about enriching the guest experience. Instead, the team has a much bigger goal:

“The tourism products that we deliver will support the language teaching programs that we deliver with the goal of opening a Gumbaynggirr Immersion School in 2021,” says Clark.

Already, Wajaana Yaam engage the local Indigenous community by directly donating and supporting a not-for-profit Aboriginal corporation which runs programs in education and culture for the Coffs Harbour youth. The business also offers training to young Goori youth that are interested in getting involved with appropriate workshops and learning. As Clark explains, the team is strong in their belief that language carries culture and that Aboriginal people who are connected to their language and culture achieve higher at school and in employment outcomes.

Wajaana Yaam Gumbaynggirr Adventure Tours 2

With such an honourable mission, we think this is a team to be recognised and a story to remember.

Ngaraanga nginundi Yuludarla – Remember your story.

Thanks, Wajaana Yaam Gumbaynggirr Adventure Tours, for sharing your story with us!

  

Have you read the other articles in this series?

THE USE OF SILENCE TO HELP PRESERVE A CULTURE – featuring 1770 LARC! Tours

 

GSTC in “Tools for Sustainable Tourism” by the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth

The Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth identifies the GSTC Criteria as the key Tool for Sustainable Tourism The Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth has published a report under the title “Tools for Sustainable Tourism” (Verktyg för hållbar turism), referring to the GSTC Criteria and GSTC-Recognized Standards. A short summary in English […]

The post GSTC in “Tools for Sustainable Tourism” by the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth appeared first on Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).

BEST ECO EXPERIENCES FOR A RAINY DAY

They say those who think only sunshine brings happiness have never danced in the rain… or checked Ecotourism Australia’s Green Travel Guide! We’ve compiled our top picks the best rainy-day ECO experiences. Whether you’re going stir crazy with the kids or just looking to optimise on the quaint, peaceful weather, check these out!

FOR THE FAMILY

 Reef HQ

 Get your ocean fix indoors.

Sick of being hauled up at home as the tropics lives up to their reputation or the winter rains drizzle down? Check out the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium in Queensland. Townsville houses one of the best aquarium experiences you can find. Reef HQ aquarium provides visitors with world class living exhibits, complemented by thematic and interactive educational experiences, raising awareness and encouraging behavioural change in the community to help protect the Great Barrier Reef. Spark your child’s curiosity and maybe even learn something new as an adult about one of Australia’s most beautiful natural assets.

Find out more here.

Tribal

 The best cultural experience…on a boat?

Tribal Warrior allows you to explore the waters of Sydney harbour while learning about Australia’s cultural history. On this enclosed boat – which departs in all weather conditions! – learn the Indigenous names of significant Sydney landmarks and enjoy authentic cultural performances aboard the Mari Nawi (Big Canoe). Relax, eat, drink and learn with the family as you are accompanied by the friendly and welcoming Indigenous crew. This is a uniquely Australian experience for all ages.

Find out more here.

Dino

Where imagination gets to roam free.

The outback is the place of all dinosaur lovers’ dreams…and let’s face it, what kid (or kid at heart) isn’t a dinosaur fan? Australian Age of Dinosaurs is a multi-award-winning science-based museum and major tourist attraction. The site of a 150-herd dinosaur stampede some 95 million years ago, this is the place to go to see real life dinosaur footprints scattered over the rockface, telling the story of a terrifying encounter immortalised forever. The museum hosts daily guided tours through its facilities where you’ll view real life dinosaur artefacts as well as life sized statues. In addition, there are a multitude of activities for the entire family. Being in the outback, you can stay onsite and make a holiday of it! This museum allows for all things dinosaur and all things fun.

Find out more here.

FOR THE RETREATERS

Aquila 

Treehouse reset. 

Aquila Eco Lodges offers a unique accommodation, set amongst the Grampians National Park. Offering two treehouses and two loft houses, Aquila showcases a model of sustainable living without compromising on personal comfort. Beautifully set amongst the native bush to provide privacy for the guests and give them a sense of being ‘with nature’, the lodge is most well-known for its art and dining experiences, making it the perfect wet weekend getaway.  

Find out more here.

Billabong

Bathe on the balcony.

Who wouldn’t want to listen to rainfall on the billabong as you take a warm bath on your secluded balcony with a glass of wine? Billabong Retreat allows for this and so much more. Nestled amongst bushland, just a 50-minute drive from Sydney, you will experience fine dining, tailored yoga classes and a day spa everyone can enjoy. This is the perfect option if you’re looking to spend your rainy weekend indulging and recharging.

Find out more here.

Houseboat

Peace on the river.

Dakini Hideaways’ Bills Boathouse II is a little slice of heaven floating upon the Murray River. Escape the everyday, lose track of time, and listen to the rain fall in your own secluded house boat. This self-contained accommodation supplies you with everything you need for the weekend without you having to go anywhere. BBQ the fish you just caught, right there on the deck, and indulge in the seclusion and quiet, surrounded only by the sounds of nature.

Find out more here. 

For many more fun activities and accommodation in your area,  make sure you visit our Green Travel Guide!