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

WELCOMING BIG DUCK BOAT TOURS TO THE ECOTOURISM AUSTRALIA COMMUNITY

Congratulations to Big Duck Boat Tours on achieving Advanced Ecotourism Certification for their Seal Island Tour and South Ocean Adventure Tour.

The primary mission of Big Duck Tours is to increase awareness and appreciation of the local marine park and its surrounding waters while operating responsibly and sustainably. Departing from Victor Harbour, just 60 minutes from Adelaide, the Big Duck vessel takes a maximum of 27 passengers to spectacular areas of otherwise inaccessible coastline, islands, and beaches. Three time winner of the Victor Harbor Business Association Business of the Year award, Big Duck Boat Tours offer three tours: Seal Island, Southern Ocean Adventure and a Private Charter Cruise, on which passengers learn about the history, geography, wildlife significance and the protection status of the Encounter Bay Marine Park.

The Big Duck Tours crew include qualified marine biologists who share their knowledge with staff. They have also contributed to the development of the company’s environmental plan and climate change policy. Passengers are informed of the significance of the marine park to South Australia and why they operate under a regulated permit through an informative and educational presentation.

Big Duck Tours offer unique experiences and specialise in whale, sea lion and dolphin sightings. Guests learn about history, geography and wildlife on the tours, as well as about ways they can assist in conservation.

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Photo credit Big Duck Boat Tours

Big Duck Tours’ commitment to sustainability includes environmental initiatives such as multi-use waterproof smocks, assisting the Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch Citizen Science Program and facilitating scientific surveys to Kangaroo Island. Scientific research groups charter their vessels to monitor the local dolphin populations’ health and migratory behaviours. Passengers are encouraged to participate in the KI VH Dolphin Watch and the SA Whale Centre, and Big Duck Tours provide environmental feedback advice to the local council.

 

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Photo credit Big Duck Boat Tours

Big Duck Tours’ responsible recycling practices include feeding shredded paper to worm farms; buying bulk goods in reusable containers which are returned for refill and using water from the toilet system on a local turf farm. Climate action initiatives include washing the vessel with fresh water only and using swing mooring to protect the seagrass, allowing them to photosynthesise.

Staff plan to plant 500 trees in 2020 to help reduce the operator’s carbon footprint, eco-friendly lighting is used throughout the office environment and an electronic ticketing system is used to reduce paper. Local tradesmen are engaged where possible so the operator has the opportunity to give back to the local community.

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Photo credit Big Duck Boat Tours – Granite Island

Community engagement is something Big Duck prides itself on. They are active members of Victor Harbor Business Association, Fleurieu Peninsula Tourism and the South Australian Tourism Commission. They present regularly to the volunteers at the Goolwa and Victor Harbor visitor information centres and sponsor Surf Life Saving events. South Australia local Indigenous dreamtime stories and significant historical information form part of Big Duck Boat tours.

 

For more information about Big Duck Tours, visit their website or Facebook page.

 

 

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).

PLANTING THE SEED TO REDUCE EMISSIONS: THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

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. 

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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.

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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).

TEN ROMANTIC ECO EXPERIENCES TO ADD TO YOUR BUCKET LIST

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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)