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

Sustainability in tourism. The role of policies, of local communities and of the technologies involved: A literature review.

More and more it becomes clearer that sustainability in tourism is not just about the environment as it has been thought .It also concerns old issues such as economic, public health and protection, as well as and new concept such as the positive impact on the labor market (as it increases the employment prospects of the local population) and the carrying capacity of the specific tourism destination were furtherly developed.

GSTC Destination Criteria v2 – Now Available in Greek

The GSTC Destination Criteria v2 has been translated into Greek and is available to download in the Criteria Translations section. Τα Κριτήρια Προορισμών του GSTC v2 έχουν μεταφραστεί στα Ελληνικά και είναι διαθέσιμα για λήψη στο τμήμα “ Μεταφράσεις Κριτηρίων”.

The post GSTC Destination Criteria v2 – Now Available in Greek appeared first on Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).


Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead 

The Australian environment remains in the international spotlight and the devastation caused by the recent bushfires is still very real for those who proudly call this nation home. One of the many ongoing impacts which can’t be ignored is the amount of carbon dioxide which has been released into the atmosphere. In fact, alarming reports show Australia has already surpassed two-thirds of last year’s total man-made emissions.

Measuring emissions is now included in Ecotourism Australia’s (EA’s) ECO Certification program and the outcomes achieved by certified operators show that by following current guidelines and utilising proven tools, business owners can easily create opportunities to reduce their annual carbon footprint. The tourism industry is recognised as one of Australia’s biggest economic contributors and employers and the ecotourism community is well positioned to play their part in rebuilding a sustainable nation.

The tourism industry isn’t without its own emission challenges — think for example of the rise of the flight shaming movement gathering momentum in 2019 — however, while the world continues to wait for sustainable aviation fuel commercialisation, it is time to concentrate on reducing emissions in other areas of business which can be independently controlled.

Travel company Responsible Travel has recently begun this important conversation. They have commissioned a study which aims at beginning to understand the carbon footprint associated with other areas of the holiday experience; such as food and accommodation. “This is a small pilot study based only on a small number of holidays,” says Ecotourism Australia Certification and Policy Manager Eloise Touchot, “still, I find that we often forget to consider emissions from food choices, so I liked that it brings attention to the topic.”

How does the current food production system effect GHG emissions?

Our World in Data reports that the global food system accounts for approximately 26% of GHG emissions with the largest portion of 31% attributed to livestock and fisheries. A further 27% lies with crop production, 24% with land use and 18% with supply chains.

Whilst measuring the carbon cost of a holiday is an emerging conversation, the environmental impact of meat production is one topic which has gained momentum over recent years, prompting mainstream media to declare 2019 The Year of the Vegan. This declaration has been supported with high profile events, such as the Oscars, announcing the menu for the Nominee Luncheon to be served vegan.

As the focus of wellness and living a clean lifestyle become mainstream, so is the rise of those committing to plant-based diet. Australia has been ranked as the third-fastest growing worldwide vegan market which means it is well and truly time for tourism operators to accommodate a variety of dietary needs into their menu. This is not only a positive step towards reducing emissions but also to ensure a variety of food options is available for guests.

Ecotourism Australia’s certified operators joining the plant-based revolution

Food Emissions Article Billabong Retreat

Plant Based Selection / credit: Billabong Retreat

It is becoming increasingly familiar to read menu boards across the country which offer local and seasonal foods highlighting the support of regional farmers and minimising food miles. It is also commonplace to see commercial kitchens accommodating a range of dietary needs including gluten free, dairy free, nut free and plant-based options. Many of Ecotourism Australia’s certified operators have gone a step further with their environmental commitment by providing broader and more specialised sustainable food choices to their guests. 

Vegetarian options have dominated menus at mindfulness retreats long before wellness became a mainstream lifestyle choice. Billabong Retreat in NSW, who are ECO certified Nature Tourism, are one such example. A strong food commitment has been embedded as part of their founding principles as Billabong Retreat believe “the food is everything”. They serve delicious vegetable based homestyle meals “not because we promote vegetarianism, but because we believe on average people don’t eat enough vegetables and we want to inspire our guests to eat more by showing them how amazing and yummy they can be!”

As research develops and awareness grows, we are entering a new norm and, as a result, are seeing operators outside the traditional health and wellness category integrate sustainable food choices as best practice. One example of this is Wavelength Reef Cruises in QLD, an Advanced Ecotourism and Climate Action certified business, who operate in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. According to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) newsletter, “High Standard Tourism Operator Wavelength Reef Cruises went fully vegetarian for their tourism product as part of [their] approach to addressing climate change. Wavelength is following the advice of researchers that eating a plant-rich diet is a globally scalable way of people reducing their personal carbon emissions.”

Food Emissions Article Wavelength

Vegetarian Selection / credit: Wavelength Reef Cruises

But is going completely plant-based the only way to reduce emissions and have a positive impact on the environment? Dropbear Adventures in QLD, ECO certified at the Nature Tourism level, have explored other alternatives as they love to look after their vegans and vegetarians just as much as their meat eaters. “Our fruit and vegetables are all sourced locally as we believe it’s very important to support our local farmers. And as part of our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint, we’ve recently made some changes to the types of meat we serve on our tours. Beef is now off the menu and has been replaced with kangaroo [which is] much more sustainable and healthier!”

As with all new conversations there are many aspects to consider so, as many EA operators value the importance of continuous improvement, we have put together a collection of helpful suggestions. These are designed to ‘plant the seed’ (pun intended) and provide some ideas around how you can reduce your emissions, provide support for your fellow countryman and use your story to educate your guests with value-adding interpretations. 

cereal 1866559 1920 pixabay

Supporting Australian Agriculture / credit: Pixabay

1.    Reduce

If offering a complete plant-based menu isn’t your thing, consider a commitment to the ‘Reducetarian’ lifestyle by providing less meat, dairy and egg options in your menu. You could do this by:

  • Participating in annual events such as Vegetarian Week
  • Include #MeatFreeMonday in your weekly schedule
  • Serve one plant-based meal per day
  • Reduce the quantity of meat in recipes by substituting with plant-based options
  • Try positioning meat dishes at the end of the buffet aisle. This has been shown to cut people’s meat intake by 20%

 2. Support – ‘we rise by lifting others’

Never has there been a better time to buy fresh produce from local farmers, which reduces food miles, as well as encouraging your visitors to show support to social initiatives whose primary focus is to generate income into the Australian economy. Tourism Australia has launched a nationwide campaign designed to encourage Australians to #HolidayHereThisYear, and there are also calls to #BuyFromTheBush and grab an #EmptyEsky, before heading to impacted communities and filling it with local food, wine and wares. #SpendWithThem helps regions along on their road to recovery and, although you as an operator may not be able to head out on a #RoadtripForGood, you can exercise your buying power and encourage your visitors to do the same. This is one simple way to add value to the lives of those affected as they begin their #BushfireBounceback.

 3. Educate

Ecotourism operators welcome visitors who value ecologically sustainable tourism and have a primary focus of experiencing natural areas that fosters environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation. The Ecotourism Australia community of 500 certified businesses holds the unique position of educating guests through quality interpretation programs, promoting new business developments and annual campaigns via social media platforms and offering quality training on best practice sustainable development to their teams. Harnessing these communication opportunities is a simple yet effective way to encourage new habits through leading by example.

wine tasting 1952074 1920 pixabay

Celebrating Australian Producers / credit: Pixabay

As the conversation around emission reductions in food and accommodation gains momentum, EA and the extended community values the thoughts and opinions from operators in the field. Does your business offer either vegetarian or vegan options? What benefits have you found by increasing plant-based options within your meal planning? If no, what challenges have you come across which have prevented you from changing your menu? Other than food, how else have you been reducing emissions within your business?


[Header image credit: Pixabay] 

World Economic Forum: 6 ways travelling professionals can cut their carbon footprint

Here are six ways we recommend you get started, in order from the easiest to implement to the most environmentally impactful: (1) Travel with trust: When looking for a place to stay, look for accommodations that utilize various sustainability standards. […] Use the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s list of trusted standards used in different countries as […]

The post World Economic Forum: 6 ways travelling professionals can cut their carbon footprint appeared first on Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).


Has Valentine’s Day got you looking for a romantic getaway with your significant other or simply wanting to spend some quality time away? To get you excited for your next romantic eco trip, Ecotourism Australia has highlighted 10 of its most romantic experiences to enjoy. While each individual has a different idea of what makes for a romantic experience, there is something for everybody to find. Whereas for some it is the secluded getaway at a treehouse retreat, for others it is the adventurous horseback trip. Have a look and don’t forget to add these prestigious ECO certified experiences to your bucket list.

1. Somewhere Unique

 couple deck SomewhereUnique Website

Views at Somewhere Unique. / Credit: Somewhere Unique

The couples’ retreat Somewhere Unique is the perfect place to stay if you are looking for a nature-based getaway that’s easy to reach on a weekend. Only a two-hour drive from the Sydney CBD lays the picturesque Wollombi Valley. You will get to the 20-acre bushland property in the Wollombi Valley by travelling via the historic and scenic Great North Road. Somewhere Unique combines a tranquil setting with luxurious, romantic couples-only accommodation, superb comfort and attention to detail. Choose between the Lowanna or Allawah Retreat and enjoy time with your significant other in a one bedroom fully self-contained accommodation. Both retreats have been strategically placed to ensure privacy for each couple, and thoughtfully designed to create a harmonious and romantic ambience. Add a massage or a wine tour to your stay or make use of the provided bicycles. You do not miss out on any luxury by staying at this ECO certified Nature Tourism retreat. At Somewhere Unique in the Hunter Valley, the importance of caring for the environment is directly linked to caring for the needs of guests. Find out more about Somewhere Unique here.

2. Whitsunday Rent A Yacht & Sunsail Whitsundays

 Whitsunday Rent a Yacht Website

Exploring the Whitsunday Islands. / Credit: Whitsunday Rent A Yacht & Sunsail Whitsundays

Dreaming about a romantic adventure? Skipper yourself with one of the bareboat charters at Whitsunday Rent A Yacht & Sunsail Whitsundays and take in the spectacular views around the Whitsunday Islands. Anchor up and tender ashore at one of the islands and enjoy the day on land by going on a bushwalk. Not only do the Whitsunday Islands offer some of the best national park bush walks, but they have some magnificent snorkelling sites as well. You will be able to see turtles, whales and a huge variety of tropical fish. After an adventurous day out on the ocean you can either cook for yourself in the fully equipped kitchen or pre-order all of your food through the provisioning service. Enjoy this prestige experience as a couple or book as a group, however you like to enjoy your romantic time on board. The fleet comprises of yachts, catamarans and motor cruisers, all of which are maintained and operated by the team to ensure guests have the best experience. There is the option of booking a sail guide which gives you the chance to enjoy as much or as little sailing as you want. Whitsunday-Rent-A-Yacht is determined to ensure the Whitsunday Islands and Great Barrier Reef remain well cared for. Through their offer of ECO certified experiences, they want to ensure that your time on board is spent in an environmentally and culturally sustainable manner. Check out here for more information.

3. HeliSpirit

 lake argyle website

Views of the Kimberley. / Credit: HeliSpirit

If you’re not afraid of heights and want to add some adventure to your romantic eco experience, HeliSpirit is the right choice for you. It is no secret that helicopters are an exciting, adventurous and special way to travel. Enjoy the breathtaking flights over this amazing country from eleven bases across the Kimberley, Pilbara and Northern Territory. HeliSpirit operates a fleet of helicopters at key locations across the Kimberley including Kununurra, Purnululu National Park (Bungle Bungle) and Mitchell Falls, as well as Katherine Gorge and Karratha. Sit back and discover the inspiring landscapes with a scenic flight or an extended Luxury Helicopter Safari. While you enjoy this romantic eco experience, HeliSpirit’s well trained pilots will take you up in the air and show you sights you could never see from the ground. This ECO certified tour operator is locally owned and wants you to learn about the history of the different ranges. Book the Lake Argyle Tour and have the option of a remote landing in a secret spring for a picnic or a swim or watch the sunset on this unforgettable experience. Have a look on here for further information.

4. Diamond Waters Treehouse Retreat

 Treehouse website

Outside terrace at the treehouse. / Credit: Diamond Waters Treehouse Retreat

If you are looking for a romantic hideaway, Diamond Waters Treehouse Retreat is the right place. Located along the Camden Haven River on the East Coast just above Newcastle, the retreat is the perfect place to slow down and rejuvenate. This is a romantic experience high among the trees between the river and the sea. This luxury accommodation offers two private treehouses, which are accessible via a 40 metre boardwalk. This enables visitors with wheelchairs to access the nature retreat as well. The retreat is on the edge of two national parks and within 10 kilometres of three other parks and nature reserves, protected wetlands and some of the most stunning beaches and waterways in Australia. The treehouses were built to be environmentally sensitive and to have an extremely low ongoing carbon footprint. Enjoy this special adventure surrounded by native wildlife. Bring more romance in by booking a massage in front of the fire in your own treehouse. Special services are offered, such as on-site babysitting or campfires. Relax in the treetops at Diamond Waters Treehouse Retreat where the pristine environment is still respected. Find out more about this eco experience on here.

5. Magnetic Island Sea Kayaks

 Magnetic Island Sea Kayaks QLD Website

Sunset at Magnetic Island. / Credit: Magnetic Island Sea Kayaks

Enjoy the beautiful sunset in Horseshoe Bay during a Kayak Sunset Tour with Magnetic Island Sea Kayaks. You will discover the unique bays in the national marine parks and the rocky coastline of Magnetic Island from your kayak. Paddle through the calm waters and watch the turtles come to the surface and the wildlife prepare itself for the night. This is a perfect evening experience within a romantic ambience. Have a chat while you enjoy a drink on your kayak or simply sit in silence as the sun sets behind the anchored sailboats. This tour is suitable for beginner to intermediate paddlers and operates with a minimum of two and maximum of 12 customers. Click here to find out more.

6. Peninsula Hot Springs

 peninsula hot springs website

Private pools at Peninsula Hot Springs. / Credit: Peninsula Hot Springs

Go for a steamy romantic eco experience at Peninsula Hot Springs. Enjoy the geothermal mineral-rich waters that flow from the deep underground into the many pools. Only an hour’s drive from the Melbourne CBD, the Hot Springs offer a range of private baths where you can relax by yourself or with your partner. Furthermore, Peninsula Hot Springs offers bath houses where you can socialise and watch the stunning 360-degree view of the region. Enjoy the ECO certified Nature Tourism sanctuary, where your mind and body can relax in the beautiful natural surroundings. Choose between indoor and outdoor pools ranging from 36 Celsius to 43 Celsius and recharge in this romantic ambience. Look up more information on here.

7. Bogong Horseback Adventures

 Bogong horseback website

Up on the horseback in Alpine National Park. / Credit: Bogong Horseback Adventures

Saddle up and explore the Australian High Country of North East Victoria. Enjoy this romantic eco experience with spectacular views of the Bogong High Plains on the horse’s back. Choose from a two-hour day ride to multi stay packhorse tours and combine great horses with the natural splendour of the Bogong High Plains. Bogong Horseback Adventures offers rides to suit all levels of riders. Add a great fire-cooked meal to your romantic eco vacation while you relax after a day of riding in the pristine Alpine National Park. If you still haven’t got enough of the farm life, you are welcome to stay in their unique farm stay accommodation. Check out here for further information.

8. Walk Into Luxury

 Walk into luxury Website02

Views on a Walk into Luxury Cape to Cape Hike. / Credit: Walk Into Luxury

Walk into a romantic eco experience with Walk Into Luxury. The ECO certified Advanced Ecotourism operator offers guided and private walks to the south-west of Western Australia to the Cape to Cape Track and Bibbulmun Track in absolute luxury comfort. You can experience the prestige nature combined with gourmet food and wine and exclusive accommodation. If you would like to personalise your walking experience, Walk Into Luxury designs you your own private journey. Enjoy secluded beaches and your own private accommodation with spa included. Find out more here.

9. Yelverton Brook Eco Spa Retreat & Conservation Sanctuary

 retreat website

Surroundings of Yelverton Brook Eco Spa Retreat. / Credit: Yelverton Brook Eco Spa Retreat & Conservation Sanctuary

Spend some romantic time in the beautiful Margaret River region, in one of Yelverton Brook Eco Spa Retreat & Conservation Sanctuary’s chalets. This unique place lies nestled within the boundaries of the protected native wildlife conservation sanctuary and is an ideal place for a private or secluded, small group or romantic getaway. Experience the magic of the Margaret River region in a fully self-contained chalet. Spend your days on one of the close by walking trails or relax in your own private outdoor spa beneath the stars. Surrounded by bushland, the retreat is centrally located with easy access to all the attractions around. Meet the amazing wildlife right on your doorstep like kangaroos, woylies or the huge variety of birds and see how easy it is to be more environmental and energy efficient in your own home. Look up the Retreat on here.

10. Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

 Skyrail Rainforest Cableway Website

Views from the boardwalks. / Credit: Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

Embark on a romantic eco journey with Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Discover Australia’s Wet Tropics World Heritage Area up in the air in a cable car just outside Cairns. The 7.5km cableway  glides just metres over the canopy of Australia’s tropical rainforests. Sit back and enjoy the stunning views. Two mid-stations, Red Peak and Barron Falls, provide the opportunity to explore and learn about this ancient environment on boardwalks and at the Rainforest Interpretation Centre. Explore the rainforest with your significant other and immerse yourself in the fascinating surroundings. Find out more on here.


What’s your favourite nature-based romantic getaway? Tell us about it in the comments below!

(Header image: Walk Into Luxury)


See wild and remote attractions with the newly certified charter and scenic flight tour operator, King Leopold Air. Ecotourism Australia congratulates the Broome based operator for its Nature Tourism Certification for its Buccaneer Explorer, Devonian Reef Explorer, Devonian Reef Adventure Safari, Bungle Bungle Explorer, Bungle Bungle Adventure Safari, Cygnet Bay Explorer, Cygnet Bay Adventure Safari, Karijini Adventure Safari and Mitchell Falls Explorer tours throughout the Kimberly & Pilbara regions.

With more than 25 years of experience, King Leopold Air is a scenic pioneer in north-west Australia and shows its passion for aviation, adventure tourism and sustainable tourism. With its first flights launched in 1992 as a small charter company, King Leopold Air has an extensive aircraft engineering background and decades of experience.

View Facebook King Leopold Air

Join tours like the Buccaneer Explorer, Devonian Reef Adventure Safari or Bungle Bungle Adventure Safari to explore ancient fossilised reefs, arid land ecosystems or ancient caves. Experienced pilots are additionally trained as tour guides and take you to rocky tunnels, crystal-clear waterways or cascading waterfalls. King Leopold Air flies to World Heritage listed sights such as the ancient gorges of Kariijini National Park or majestic Mitchell Falls. Combine the scenic views with one of their guided walking tours and learn about the spiritual significance of one of the sights or go for a swim and enjoy some refreshments. As an alternative you can go on an overnight experience with the Cygnet Bay Adventure Safari Tour where you end the day with a bottle of sparkling and dinner by sunset.

Flights Facebook King Leopold Air

King Leopold Air flies to carefully selected sites and is committed to conserving the landscape. Their commitment to sustainability is shown by their efforts in using a portion of the company’s profits and resources to assist with community development. By involving their staff and the local community, King Leopold Air connects people and fosters a greater understanding about the environment and their impacts. The charter and scenic flight tour operator also transmits a greater understanding and appreciation of natural values and resources to their guests through their tour experiences. They are committed to continuous improvement in the context of sustainable development and management of tourism. Besides that, King Leopold Air manages and monitors the environmental, cultural and social impacts of their activities.

It is key to the flight tour operator to share amazing landscapes and increase awareness at the same time by offering great experiences with safety, excellence and knowledge.

Once again, we welcome King Leopold Air to the Ecotourism Australia family and congratulate them on achieving certification!

For more information about the offered tours by Kind Leopold Air visit their website, Facebook Page or check out reviews on TripAdvisor.

[Photo credit: King Leopold Air]


Transforming tourism through sustainable procurement – How TUI Group uses the GSTC Criteria

This publication aims to introduce the strategic role that sustainable procurement can play to transform tourism by scaling up the market of sustainable products and services in the sector, enabling the reduction of GHG emissions and the shift towards a more resilient, resource-efficient development. It has been developed as part of the United Nations Environment […]

The post Transforming tourism through sustainable procurement – How TUI Group uses the GSTC Criteria appeared first on Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).