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

“Navigating the Way Forward” – GSTC 2019 Global Conference in the Azores

“Navigating the Way Forward” – GSTC 2019 Global Conference in the Azores The GSTC 2019 Global Sustainable Tourism Conference “Navigating the Way Forward” that took place on December 4th-7th in Terceira Island, the Azores, brought together 250 delegates from 42 countries, along with hundreds of viewers that watched the live broadcasting of the conference. […]

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Japan Tourism Agency Commits to Formally Adopt GSTC Criteria in its Tourism Policy

Japan Tourism Agency has committed to formally adopt GSTC criteria as part of its tourism policy. Japan has ambitious plans to grow tourism arrivals, but is determined to do this in a sustainable way. To that end, the adoption of the GSTC destination criteria is a major commitment and act of leadership. Prof. Kumi […]

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MEDIA RELEASE: Douglas Shire Becomes World’s First ECO Certified Destination

History has been made today in the far north Queensland Shire of Douglas, with the Port Douglas and Daintree destination becoming the first in the world to achieve Ecotourism Australia’s ECO Destination Certification.

The announcement was made during Ecotourism Australia’s annual Global Eco Asia Pacific Tourism Conference in Cairns, with the certificate presented to Douglas Shire Mayor, Julia Leu.

The shire, which first signed up for the certification program in 2018, has been working hard on the 100 criteria involved in the certification, of which it has met 80 to reach the ECO Certified Nature Destination level.

Douglas Shire

Photo: Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu receiving Douglas Shire’s ECO Destination Certification certificate from Ecotourism Australia Chair Claire Ellis

An onsite audit conducted last week by an international team of independent auditors assessed every aspect of the shire’s application in detail, including reviewing documentation, visiting key tourism sites and conducting interviews with council staff, community group representatives, service providers and the mayor herself.

Cr Leu said the ECO Destination Certification gave the region a big green tick of approval.

“Our vision is to become the world’s leading tropical visitor destination by delivering world-class sustainable tourism experiences,” she said.

Aboriginal Child Credit Tourism Port Douglas Daintree

Photo credit: Tourism Port Douglas Daintree

“The ECO Destination certification, through its rigorous auditing process, gives us credibility, setting Douglas Shire and its unique natural experiences apart from everywhere else.

“By focusing on the sustainable interactions with nature, we hope to conserve our pristine environment for our tourism industry and for future generations to enjoy.”

Ecotourism Australia’s ECO Destination Certification program was created in partnership with Green Destinations, an international non-profit foundation for sustainable tourism whose standards are accredited and recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).


[Cover photo: Tourism Port Douglas Daintree]


MEDIA RELEASE: Twelve Tourism Businesses Inducted into Ecotourism Australia Hall of Fame

Twelve of Australia’s leading nature-based tourism businesses were inducted into Ecotourism Australia’s Hall of Fame last night, for being ECO certified for 20 years.

The awards were presented during the gala dinner of the Global Eco Asia Pacific Tourism Conference, held at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, north of Cairns.

Induction into the Hall of Fame is an honour now bestowed upon 26 ecotourism businesses, the first of whom were entered into the Hall of Fame in 2018, 22 years after Ecotourism Australia’s certification program was fist launched as the National Ecotourism Accreditation Program (NEAP) – now ECO Certification.

Ecotourism Australia CEO Rod Hillman said that this year’s awardees were some of the leading ecotourism operators in the country, whose longevity and continued success in a rapidly changing industry was testament to their continued commitment to sustainable business practices and dedication to benefiting the communities and environments in which they operate.

“We are very proud to welcome these 12 operators into our Ecotourism Australia Hall of Fame. They are our nation’s true ecotourism innovators, and their leadership has paved the way for more responsible and sustainable tourism as we experience it today.

“In 1997, we had just eighteen operators certified under NEAP – the world’s first ecotourism accreditation program. Today we have close to 500.

“Our industry has come a long way, and operators like these continue to amaze and inspire us by how they run their businesses, the positive impact they have on their community and environment, the way they educate travellers and the ingenuity they continue to show in making our industry better.”

The Hall of Fame entrants for 2019 are:

  • Billabong Sanctuary (QLD)
  • Billy Tea Safaris (QLD)
  • Cairns Adventure Group (QLD)
  • Daintree Discovery Centre (QLD)
  • Down Under Tours (Australia) (QLD)
  • Everglades Eco Safaris (QLD)
  • Grampians Personalised Tours & Adventures (VIC)
  • Paperbark Camp (NSW)
  • Tropic Wings Cairns Tours & Charters (QLD)
  • Undara Experience (QLD)
  • Far Out Adventures (NT)
  • Yelverton Brook Eco Spa Retreat & Conservation Sanctuary (WA)

GSTC Country Representative Program to End in 2019

GSTC began designating valuable GSTC partners as Country Representative in 2014 to serve as the “eyes and ears” and in many ways the voices of GSTC in their respective countries or regions. They have played a valuable role, helping stakeholders better understand and engage with the GSTC. The GSTC Country Representative Program will cease […]

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The Flinders Ranges & South Australian outback are often considered one of Australia’s ultimate travel destinations. From Adelaide, the ranges are a five-hour drive, and the region is dotted with a number of interesting townships. As we journey on an exploration of this region, come along with us. The diversity of history, amazing landscapes, rich Aboriginal heritage and variety of accommodation options make this region a unique experience. Along the way, you’ll marvel at ancient mountain ranges, red dusty roads and expansive craters which are iconic of the outback, resembling the scenes of another universe.

Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary

Photo: Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary /

Getting around

Self-drive or guided 4WD expeditions are the best way to get an overview of the wide expanses of this rusty, red landscape. The Outback Loop self-drive trip includes ten destinations recommended to capture the highlights of the region. Whether you’re looking for self-guided, tagalong or fully guided experiences, these ECO certified operators will have you covered:

Flinders Ranges

Photo: Finders Ranges /

If you prefer to see the region in stylish comfort, treat yourself to the luxury of The Ghan, the train which offers three routes to and from Adelaide, stopping at the outback South Australian towns of Coober Pedy, Marla and Manguri. If you like a guided experience, check out SA Eco Tours for small group safaris and tours.

Finally, there are also multi day hikes into this beautiful region – such as this one offered by Respecting our Culture certified Diverse Travel Australia – and, if you’re looking for something completely different, why not try exploring the Flinders on a camel? Camel Treks Australia’s guided camel treks offer great relaxation, fresh air and sunshine. The camel string travels slowly, far away from modern developments and the unpolluted atmosphere makes for great evenings under the stars around the campfire.  

Camel Treks Australia

Photo: Camel Treks Australia /

Where to stay

When it comes to accommodation in this beautiful region, you’re spoilt for choice. If you’re looking for a glamping outback experience, check out Wilpena Pound Resort. It’s located within the Ikara Flinders Ranges National Park, 430km north of Adelaide. Here, you can enjoy a haven of outback hospitality with 60 hotel rooms, 15 glamping safari tents, a picturesque campground, national park visitor information centre, a restaurant, bar/bistro, swimming pool and general store. There is so much to see and do with a range of 4WD tours, guided Aboriginal cultural tours, stargazing, nature and bush walks, and scenic flights over Wilpena Pound and the Flinders Ranges.

Wilpena Pound

Photo: Wilpena Pound /

Outback-style glamping is also available at the beautiful Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, an Advanced Ecotourism certified hotspot known for its incredible stargazing and astronomy tours. Complete with tracks, trails and scenic flights, this is an environment with abundant wildlife and minimum human interaction. The pinnacle experience here is the famous Arkaroola Ridgetop Track, only accessible on a tour.   

Rawnsley Park Station

Photo: Rawnsley Park Station /

Photo: Rawnsley Park Station

If you want to experience an immersive outback stay, why not try an outback station accommodation? Sheep and cattle stations have been a huge part of South Australia’s history for more than 150 years, and properties in the Flinders Ranges and outback combine traditional farm life with luxury, providing a unique experience for guests. Stay on a sheep or cattle station in shearers’ quarters, cook your own meals or join your hosts for dinner. Check out Rawnsley Park Station, with its fascinating 50-year history as a traveller’s rest spot, for lush eco villa style accommodation. Catninga offers a bed & breakfast option, or caravan and camping spots surrounded by fields (the hosts have even been known to invite guests to their deck for sunset, wine and cheese!) and Skytrek & Willow Springs Station offers accommodation in cabins, a homestead or cottages, plus camping options.

Innamincka Outdoor Cinema 2

Photo: Innamincka Outdoor Cinema /

Should your travels take you closer to the Queensland border, make sure you stop off at Innamincka Hotel – it’s got accommodation, an outdoor cinema, a traditional Aussie pub vibe and Australia’s most remote mini golf course! 

Things to do

There is so much to discover in this region – and the landscapes you’ll find are surprisingly varied. Check out the waterfalls at Alligator Gorge in Mt Remarkable National Park (3.5 hours’ drive from Adelaide), go opal mining in Coober Pedy or marvel at Arkaroola’s granite mountain views and spinifex-covered hillsides. Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre is Australia’s largest salt lake the lowest and darkest point in Australia, fifteen metres below sea level. To get a birds-eye view, check out Outback Spirit Tours, who include a fly over on their South Australian tours.

Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden

Photo: Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden /

Another great thing to do is expand your knowledge on the state’s flora at the 250-hectare Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden in Port Augusta. This garden was established to research, conserve and promote the wider appreciation of Australia’s arid zone flora, and today features thousands of plants and is home to over 150 bird species. You can enjoy peaceful walking tracks, stunning views of the Flinders Ranges or even an interesting guided tour. For coffee lovers, the visitor centre’s café, gift and plant shop will be a welcoming sight.

Finally, this region of dramatic landscapes is famous for its sunsets and stargazing opportunities. The Breakaways, deep orange mountains approximately 33 kilometres north of Coober Pedy, were once covered by an inland sea. Now, the spot flourishes with a vivid ecosystem of native fauna and flora and are a magical place to admire the sunset. Sunsets from the spectacular Rawnsley Park hilltop summit, a 30-minute drive away from Hawker in the Flinders Ranges, are also well worth the drive.

Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary FB

Photo: Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary / Facebook

For star gazing, you can’t go past Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary – it’s famous for having the clearest skies in the southern hemisphere and houses Australia’s largest privately-owned astronomical observatories.

As night falls – whether you’re sprawled out on a luxurious bed in the middle of the Flinders Ranges or tucked up in a sleeping bag under the stars – you’re sure to fall asleep peacefully, with the sounds of nature surrounding you, drifting off into dreams of red landscapes and wide open roads, subconsciously planning your next trip back to this wonderful and fascinating region.