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


Congratulations to Quandamooka Coast for achieving ECO and ROC Certifications for its Yalingbila Whale Tours and Cultural Guided Land Based Walks. Quandamooka Coast is the tourism arm of QYAC (Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation) who also operate ECO certified Redlands Kayak Tours and ECO, ROC and Climate Action certified Minjerribah Camping.

Cultural Tours

QYAC is a Registered Prescribed Body Corporate created under the Native Title Act 1993 to manage the recognised Native Title rights and interests of the Quandamooka People. Through its tourism division, QYAC offers a range of tours that are designed to showcase both the cultural heritage and spectacular landscape of Quandamookajara (Quandamooka Country – Moreton Bay area)

Every year, between June and October, Yalingbila Whale Tours enable guests to experience humpback whales migrating past Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island). This tour is owned and operated by the Quandamooka people. It offers a day cruise with local Aboriginal guides sharing cultural knowledge about Yalingbila (whales) and the spiritual connection these creatures share with the Quandamooka people, part of one of the oldest living cultures in the world. The informative guides also share scientific knowledge about Yalingibla and their migration journey.

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Quandamooka Coast offers Cultural Guided Land Based Walks such as the Mulumba Cultural Walk. This walk is guided by a Quandamooka tour guide. The tour takes guests on a journey around the rocky headland at Mulumba (Point Lookout) through the Gorge Walk. If offers guests interpretation of the landscape, creation stories, bush tucker identification and information about medicinal bush plants, trees and ochre.

Quandamooka Coast is continually striving to offer sustainable, informative, and culturally engaging products for its guests. The organisation conducts its tours in a way that maximises the cultural experience and minimises the potential negative impacts its operations can have on the environment.

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Quandamooka Rangers are actively working every day to improve the health of (Quandamooka Country). Land management activities that are carried out include tree planting, habitat restoration, cultural site management, mining rehabilitation, traditional fire management, and weed eradication. Not only do these activities provide for the natural, cultural, and scenic attraction that brings people to Quandamookajara, these activities store carbon in rehabilitated areas and tree planting, improve habitat for threatened species such as koalas and acid frogs, reduce the risk of bushfire and in turn lower the resulting carbon emissions.

QYAC has also joined Ecotourism Australia’s ECO Destination Certification program and Quandamooka Country has begun the journey towards becoming a certified ECO Destination. For more information click here.

Congratulations once again to Quandamooka Coast for achieving Ecotourism and ROC Certification!

For more information visit their website or Facebook page.

[Pictures sourced from Quandamooka Coast]


Dr Jane Goodall to speak at online conference Travel DAZE in November

Thought-provoking keynote speakers, interviews and panels presented virtually will be feature at this year’s online conference Travel DAZE.

The five-day event 2-6 November, will include two sessions each day and bring together the best minds from within the travel industry along with external experts to foster its recovery.

Speakers include Dr Jane Goodall, founder of G Adventures Bruce Poon Tip and CEO/ Managing Director of Virgin Australia Group Paul Scurrah to name just a few.

These unprecedented times have brought the travel industry to its knees, decimating tourism globally.

How do we rebuild and re-emerge stronger than ever?

Travel DAZE will explore what tangible steps you can take toward rebuilding a sustainable and profitable future.

The industry is in shock, but success can be forged through adversity. The aim is to evolve to recover.

Travel DAZE 2020 is a free-to-attend forum. Register now to secure your place.


[All photos supplied by: The Misfits Media Company]


Voting is now open for Ecotourism Australia’s Board of Directors 2020/21.

The persons detailed below have nominated and are eligible to stand for the 2020 Election of Directors.

Five positions on the Board will be filled by this year’s election.

Candidates listed are in alphabetical order by surname. Please read on for their supplied biographies. 


Individual member

Current Director, renominating

Alysia has been an active Director of Ecotourism Australia for the past two years and has served on the Policy and Advocacy and Conference and Awards committees and chaired the Communications and Marketing Sub-committee and Destinations Working Group.

As the Australian tourism industry faces unprecedented challenges, Alysia is keen to continue to work hard with fellow Ecotourism Australia Board Directors and staff to ensure the significance of the sector and the voice of nature-based and ecotourism is heard and recognised.

Alysia is a strong advocate for EA’s benchmark accreditation programs and industry standards and champions the importance of maintaining quality standards, compliance and skills training. Alysia will work to strengthen the products and services that Ecotourism Australia provides to its members as we move further into digital engagement and delivery.

She demonstrates strong leadership attributes in governance, financial accountability, strategic planning and membership value. Her extensive experience in emergency response and recovery has been at the forefront this year in regard to the national fire and COVID19 crises.

Alysia holds a Master in Tourism-Monash, Certificate in Community Engagement (Iapt2) and has a passion for engaging with the tourism sector in a collaborate manner, focused on sustainable destination planning, accessibility and visitor experience development.

She has a personal commitment to the promotion of the health benefits of engaging with nature and is dedicated to experience development that connects visitors with people, place and storytelling in a sustainable manner.

Alysia enjoyed after 19-year career at Parks Victoria, culminating in the senior position of Tourism Manager, where she was the architect of award-winning initiatives and led tour operator reforms to reduce red tape, promote resilience and create enabling environments for operators.

Alysia has worked with regional operators and government organisations on planning, feasibility and product development as well as with VTIC on COVID19 industry programs.

Alysia served on numerous tourism organisations, including being Chair of Yarra Valley Campaign Committee and is currently a Regional Tourism Ambassador with ART.


Business member: Wet Tropics Management Authority

Scott is the current Executive Director for the Wet Tropics Management Authority, a statutory body with the responsibility of managing the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Prior to this role, Scott has worked for the Queensland state Government since 1995 in various roles and agencies including the Department of Primary Industries, Natural Resources and Water, and the Department of Environment and Science.As the Executive Director for just over five years, Scott has successfully and significantly improved partnerships with Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples, the tourism industry, community and Government organisations to deliver on-ground management and improvement to the World Heritage Area. Scott has been passionate about partnering with the tourism industry to ‘tell the story’ of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. The tourism industry isin the perfect place to take on the stewardship of our natural areas, to protect the assets that attract its visitors and clients. This partnership approach has led to collaborative campaigns in marketing in Tropical North Queensland that focus on the natural assets of the region. As well as this, Scott’s team have partnered with tourism operators to fund research projects and to plan for future de-carbonisation of the industry.The Wet Tropics Management Authority has led a Wet Tropics Tour Guide training program that develops capacity to for tour guides:

  • to build tourism industry knowledge of the World Heritage Area and its values and enhance visitor experiences
  • to create networking, information and skill sharing opportunities for Wet Tropics stakeholders
  • to build awareness of land manager and Aboriginal Traditional Owner protocols.

Scott is passionate about supporting First Nations Peoples to develop unique visitor experience and believes that Ecotourism Australia can play a strong role in this area. Scott has received two Australia Days Awards for leadership in the public service.


Certified operator: Diverse Travel Australia 

Caroline Densley is an owner and Director of Diverse Travel Australia a ROC Accredited inbound tour operator that specialises in wildlife, nature & Aboriginal cultural experiences across Australia. For over 22 years Caroline has been actively involved in the inbound tourism sector and is a passionate advocate for responsible and sustainable tourism across Australia. 

For 16 years Caroline was a committee member on South Australia’s branch committee of the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC), the peak tourism export industry body that represents the interests of over 1,000 tourism export companies throughout Australia. Over the past two decades she has served on several tourism industry committees, a Nature Based Tourism Taskforce in South Australia and several National committees including one that developed the highly successful national Indigenous Tourism Champions Programme (ITCP), that supported Aboriginal Tourism development across Australia. Caroline was a mentor to several Aboriginal owned and operated business throughout the program’s duration.

Through her mentoring roles Caroline has established ongoing strong relationships with the Aboriginal owned & operated businesses across Australia and she continues to educate the wider inbound tourism industry on the value of including Aboriginal experiences into client itineraries.

As an Australian destination specialist Caroline has an intimate knowledge of remote and regional Australia and understands the strength and value of Ecotourism accredited members to Australia’s story.

Caroline is a founding member of the Koala Clancy Foundation a not for profit incorporated association that supports the wild koalas of the Western Plains of Victoria. The Koala Clancy Foundation is inspiring travellers and local communities to help ensure a future for wild koalas through enhancement and protection of their natural habitat.

Having spoken with some of the current Ecotourism Australia Board Members Caroline feels she has experience and skills that will add value to the Board through her extensive experience in the tourism trade distribution, product development and marketing.

In 2019 Caroline was awarded the Australian Tourism Export Council’s (ATEC) prestigious Captain Trevor Haworth Outstanding Contribution by an Individual to the Tourism Export Industry award.


Certified operator: Diamond Waters Treehouse Retreat

Current Director, renominating

Peter is a current member of the Ecotourism Board and Chairperson of the Certification Committee.

With his wife Kerry, he is the owner/operator of Diamond Waters Treehouse Retreat, a multi-award winning luxury eco retreat and events centre on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales. The Treehouse Retreat is currently Advance Ecotourism and Climate Action Business certified.

Peter and Kerry have been engaged with the Tourism industry since they started the exciting journey of rehabilitating their 13 acre rural property in 2004. Peter is also a Committee Member/Risk Manager for the Slice of Haven Food and Wine Festival (13 years) and Kerry is a Board Member of the Greater Port Macquarie Tourism Association. Together, they have developed a strong and lasting passion for the Tourism industry since moving to their new home in Dunbogan NSW.

Prior to his engagement with tourism, Peter was the CEO of several private and public hospitals, large and small. It is in this capacity he honed his skills in the areas of: corporate governance; financial management; risk management; standards compliance, and in particular, performance management and benchmarking. He has been for 27 years, and still remains, an active Assessor for the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards, the certification body for hospitals and healthcare systems. In this capacity he brings to EA, the experience of other certification systems nationally and internationally.

As a Board Member of EA he has been privileged to work through the 2019-2020 challenges of Bushfire and COVID. In his role of Certification Committee Chairperson, he has thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the introduction of on-line certification processes and the development of future outcome based performance indicators for tourism operators. He would very much like to continue assisting EA and its members in these important areas of development.


Certified operator: Mt Barney Lodge

Current Director, renominating

Innes Larkin has been active in the outdoors from an early age, hiking and climbing in Australasia, Europe, UK, and Nepal including expeditions to Mera Peak and Ama Dablam. In 2016 Innes was jointly awarded the Australian Search and Rescue award.

A teacher with a Masters in Outdoor Education, Innes has taught in London, and QLD. In 2006 Innes and Tracey Larkin purchased Mt Barney Lodge which holds Advanced Ecotourism Accreditation with Ecotourism Australia.

From 2010 to 2012 Innes spearheaded a campaign to “Keep the Scenic Rim Scenic”. This was in response to Coal and Coal Seam Gas mining moving into the Ecotourism hotspot. A legacy of this campaign is that the Scenic Rim is now Coal and Gas Free.

Twice a member of the Community Advisory Committee for the Gondwanan Rainforests of Australia World Heritage property, as well as Deputy Chair of Ecotourism Australia and additionally the chair of the Executive and Finance and Conference committees. Innes is also Chair of the Global Eco Conference committee helping to facilitate the 2019 and 2020 Global Eco conferences.

Innes is passionate about sustainable tourism and the lasting legacies it can bring to a region.


Business member: TRC Tourism

Janet Mackay is the owner and Director of TRC Tourism (TRC). TRC is a leading global tourism consultancy based in Australia and New Zealand. For over 20 years the company has engaged with businesses, governments and communities around the world to enhance peoples’ lives and the places they live through sustainable tourism, recreation and conservation planning, development and management.

Janet is an accomplished tourism professional with more than 25 years’ practical experience including substantial knowledge in all aspects of sustainable tourism destination planning and product development. She is well-known as a destination and visitor experience planning leader, as well as related infrastructure and product development. This has seen Janet working with multiple governments, agencies, stakeholders and the tourism sector to develop plans and products for a wide range of attractions, infrastructure, services and interpretation. She has worked with all level of governments to determine appropriate governance models to ensure maximum effectiveness in the delivery of sustainable tourism outcomes.

She also provides mentoring and training for tourism operators and managers. Janet’s passion lies in ecotourism particularly working with indigenous communities to create and deliver new experiences that create sustainable economic, social and cultural outcomes. Janet’s leadership in sustainable tourism is demonstrated by her award-winning planning approach toward destination planning and management. TRC offsets all its carbon emissions through the Path Zero program and is a member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. Under Janet’s direction, the Sustainable Development Goals are embedded into TRC’s planning process for every project.

With extensive networks at all levels of the public and private sector in all jurisdictions across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, and governance experience as the Director of her own company Janet is well placed to be an effective communicator and champion as a Board member of Ecotourism Australia.


Individual member

I’m incredibly fortunate to lead a global philanthropic conservation program that’s centred on empowering people to be the stewards of their lands for environmental, cultural and economic benefits. The BHP Foundation is a charity solely funded by BHP. As the Program Director of its Environmental Resilience global program since start-up four years ago, we’re now supporting many projects that are tackling the wicked problem of delivering enduring conservation outcomes in multi-function landscapes. Local enterprise and tourism are critical and my aim is to leverage private, public and philanthropic funds to support Indigenous peoples and local communities.

My work with partners around the world has shown that supporting ingenuity and enterprise can have lasting change for families and the environment – like Norbil’s idea to attract hummingbirds to his property in the Peruvian Amazon for tourists to photograph, who can now afford to convert his coffee growing to organic practices; or the generations-old biodynamic winery in Chile committing part of its property to conservation, to preserve habitat for bees that pollinate the vines. Sustainable tourism is an essential part of the solution to biodiversity loss, climate change impacts and loss of culture and connection to nature.

Projects I work on are supporting individuals and communities to be transformational. For example, the Chief Resilience Officer in Ningaloo brought the community together to map a future that will be resilient to the shocks and stressors of climate change; and the Indigenous ranger teams of the 10 deserts are building a website to deliver a coordinated tourism experience.

My work and networks are global, however it’s Australia that’s my home, and source of energy and knowledge. I worked in the hospitality industry through school and Uni (while completing a Zoology degree) spending a gap-year driving around Australia and using every opportunity since then to explore the beaches, bush, arid lands and forests of Australia. I worked at the WA Environmental Protection Authority for 16 years, followed by five yearsleading BHP Iron Ore’s environmental strategy and now four years with the BHP Foundation.

The perspectives from my work and background may complement the excellent work of Ecotourism Australia and the important role it’s going to play in the next few years that’ll be crucial to Australia’s economy and biodiversity, through its leading practices and credibility.



Financial members can vote online via Election Buddy for up to seven (7) days prior to the election – an email has been sent to your primary email contact.

Voting is now open and will close at 12:45 AEST during the AGM. The AGM will commence at 12:30 AEST on Wednesday, 21 October 2020 – broadcast online via Zoom from the Ecotourism Australia office, 1a 88 Buckland Road, Nundah, Queensland 4012. 


Hervey Bay Boat Club’s Sandy Straits Scenic and Wildlife cruise is a relaxed, five-hour tour through the pristine waters of the Great Sandy Straits Marine Park. On the tour you visit historic and naturally significant locations such as: Woody Island, North White Cliffs, Ungowa and Garry’s Anchorage. 

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Photo: Hervey Bay Boat Club

Departing from the Hervey Bay Boat Club guests can relax on deck, wildlife spotting as you cruise south, along the picturesque west coast of World heritage-listed K’Gari (Fraser Island), to the famous Gary’s Anchorage, located approximately half-way to Tin Can Bay.

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Photo: Hervey Bay Boat Club

Passengers will see swathes of mangroves, and the famous sand cliffs of K’Gari. The surrounding sand flats and wilderness flourish with marine life and birds. Dolphins, turtles, and eagles are common, but you can also see more elusive animals such as dugong, sharks and the famous Fraser Island dingos.

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Photo: Hervey Bay Boat Club

One of the key features of this cruise is the informative commentary on the sensitive, inter-tidal marine ecosystem and Ramsar protected area of international importance. The tour emphasises the vibrant presence of migratory shorebirds and the need to protect their population within the Great Sandy Marine Park World Heritage area. On the cruise, you will learn that the shorebirds occupy a range of habitats, including the mouths of creeks and estuary ecosystems, rocky ocean foreshores, sand spits and sandy beaches.

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Photo: Hervey Bay Boat Club

The commentary also focuses on local history, including early settlers, logging, the challengers of explorers Cook and Flinders. It begins with a paying of respects to local Aboriginal Butchulla peoples, Elders past, present and emerging.


The tour in includes a light lunch and is available November – June. Click here to book.  


To learn more about Hervey Bay Boat Club’s ECO certified adventure cruises, click here


Hervey Bay Boat Club are also on Facebook, or you can visit their website here


[Banner Image: Hervey Bay Boat Club]


Five ECO Destinations in Top 100 2020 Sustainable Destinations list


Five ECO Destinations have been awarded a place in the Top 100 2020 Sustainable Destinations list announced last night during the first ever online Global Green Destinations Days (GGDD20) conference.

Certified ECO Destination Port Douglas Daintree and four other destinations currently progressing through Ecotourism Australia’s ECO Destination Certification program have been awarded the prestigious accolade. The four progressing ECO Destinations include Lord Howe Island, Townsville, Bay of Plenty (NZ) and Niue Island (Pacific). There currently are 17 destinations in Ecotourism Australia’s program. 

These five ECO Destinations are among an impressive list to be included across the world.

The Sustainable Top 100 Destinations competition is organised to showcase sustainable tourism stories and good practices of destinations, as inspiring examples to others, to tour operators and to travellers. The list of five represents the highest number of destinations to be included from the Australia/ Pacific region.

Being recognised among other world leading destinations for their sustainability efforts, all nominating destinations had to provide extensive evidence and be judged by an international team of experts.

Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr said “the top 100 recognition is a nod to Douglas Shire’s natural tourism icons and the way our community champions sustainability. At a time when we need to cut through a competitive domestic market, this type of recognition is an invaluable marketing tool for our region. 

Trina Shepherd, Executive Officer of Lord Howe Island Tourism said “we are so proud to be recognised in the Sustainable Top 100 Destinations and on our way to be getting the big green tick. This gives us even more recognition for all the sustainable practises and conservation projects we have undertaken as a small island. We hope this inspires even more eco-tourism and nature loving visitors to our shores.” 

Mayor of Townsville Jenny Hill echoed her support for the region being included. “Being recognised as one of the world’s Sustainable Global Top 100 Destinations is particularly relevant this year, as Covid19 has impacted upon us all.

“Many travel opportunities are gone, and it is a stressful time for business and tourism groups across our region. Hence the honour that Top 100 bestows is a great opportunity for us to make a difference locally, nationally and internationally and build and create new markets”she said.

Penny Spoelder, Senior Associate TRC Tourism who has been contracted to assist Niue achieve their sustainable tourism goals and destination certification with Ecotourism Australia said the destination was thrilled with the news. 

“Niue has a clear goal to make tourism sustainable for their culture, the economy, environment and visitors.  Niue Tourism and its industry partners have worked hard over the last few years and it is great to see this effort recognised.  Earlier this year Niue formalised the Moana Mahu Marine protected area. The size of the zone, relative to the country’s total area, makes it the second largest reserve in the world, after Palau.  Now they are in the top 100 and are a great example for other small island destinations.”

With the demand for sustainable travel experiences growing worldwide, Ecotourism Australia CEO Rod Hillman said “the ECO Destination Certification program assures travellers that certified destinations are backed by a strong, well-managed commitment to sustainable practices and provide high-quality nature-based tourism experiences within the region.

“We are working closely with destinations across the region to develop our leading ECO Destination Program paving the way for Australia to be recognised as a global leader in fostering responsible, sustainable tourism industry development that is backed up by strong action and a whole-of-destination approach,” Mr Hillman said. 




For questions and comments, please contact:

Ingrid Huitema – Communications and Marketing, Ecotourism Australia
0408 112 728 / [email protected]



Federal Budget 2020 – Response

Dear Members, 

The Federal Government’s budget delivered last night by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has a lot to like in it for tourism.

Strong support for regions, additional budget for Tourism Australia, support for tourism on the Great Barrier Reef and an attractive tax loss carry back initiative which will allow business to invest in their own recovery.

Personal tax cuts will hopefully lift domestic demand and encourage people to move beyond the capital cities and explore further afield.

The budget assumptions are optimistic and reliant on domestic borders reopening, an effective vaccine developed and delivered, and the tax breaks given to people being spent.

These are not however guaranteed, and time will tell if the optimism is warranted.

Although there is a lot of positive news in the Budget, we were hoping for more on three major issues.

  1. With international borders projected to stay closed until 2021, regional tourism businesses, especially those more than a four-hour drive from a capital city really need further support.
  2. Many of these businesses have been closed an extended period of time and those in the north of Australia will need to wait till at least March 2021 for their season to start. JobKeeper has proven itself to be vital for these businesses, however the budget hasn’t recognised this.
  3. The tax loss carry back initiative is excellent for those tourism businesses that are operational and have the capacity to invest in their business. However, many are not. All business is trying to manage COVID restrictions, but a large number of tourism operators are also trying to recover from bushfires, drought and floods. It will be an enormous challenge for tourism businesses to now find further resources in order to take advantage of this initiative.

The domestic recovery for regions close to capital cities has been welcome, but travel behaviour has changed compared to pre COVID times.

Domestic travellers generally do not take part in the same number of tourism activities that international tourists do.  This means that accommodation occupancy rates can be healthy but tour operators delivering services like dive trips, 4×4 adventures, kayaking and whale watching simply don’t have the pre-COVID numbers.

This decline is amplified by the COVID social distancing requirements greatly reducing the number of people allowed on each trip. These activity-based tourism businesses need ongoing support until international markets re-open and operators can return to pre-COVID levels.

Regionally based tourism is the backbone of many communities throughout Australia.

It supplies sustainable employment, investment and in many cases is the glue that can hold a community together.

These businesses need to be supported through the recovery phase so they are in a position to rebound.


Kind regards,


Rods Signature no backgorund Copy

Rod Hillman

Chief Executive