Great Barrier Reef Experience Development Forums, QLD – 7th and 14th November 2012

This is an Australian Government funded initiative under T-QUAL Grants.  In partnership with the Department of Resources and Energy and Tourism, Tourism Australia, Parks Australia and the three National Landscapes of Queensland, Tourism Queensland will help operators on the Great Barrier Reef, in the Wet Tropics and in Australia’s Green Cauldron to embrace new trends in experience development.

Travellers around the world are looking for meaningful experiences that connect them to special places, people and cultures. While the Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most aspirational holiday destinations, feedback from visitors suggests we could do more to truly excite, engage and inspire.

Great Barrier Reef tourism operators have been confronted with increasing competition from cheaper reef destinations, declining visitor numbers, underwhelmed visitors spreading negative word of mouth and negative global press.

Experience Development Forums to help tourism operators on the Great Barrier Reef develop signature experiences will be held in the coming weeks. They give opportunity for participants to:

  • Explore the strategic insights, research findings and current worldwide trends in experience development
  • Gain practical tools and advice on how to shift from selling a product to giving visitors a memorable experience
  • Discover benefits of this shift for your business – increased yield, market share and greater advocacy from visitors
  • Be competitive on the global stage and tackle declining visitor numbers

Attendees will walk away with practical tools and ideas to create world class memorable experiences in their business.  A number of these ‘ideas’ from the forums will receive support and mentoring over six months to help bring that idea to reality.

Discussion forums will be held and online resources will be available to businesses located in each of Queensland’s National Landscapes.

Join the Experience Development Forums in your region:

  • 7 November 2012, Tourism Queensland Head Office – Southern GBR Session
  • 14 November 2012, Peppers Coral Coast Resort – Whitsundays & Mackay Session
  • Early December 2012 (TBA) – Tropical North Queensland Session

To learn more and register to the forums, please follow the link.

WTM World Responsible Tourism Day Expo, 7 November 2012

Hills, Hawkesbury & Riverlands Tourism in conjunction with Hills TAFE are the only entities taking part in WTM (World Travel Market) World Responsible Tourism Day (WRTD) in NSW. This initiative is supported by the World Tourism Organisation.

It’s all about businesses around the world playing an important role in showing what the travel and tourism industry can achieve in making the world a more responsible place to live and travel.  WTM World Responsible Tourism Day is now four years old, a record number of travel companies were approved last year to use the official logo and many also marked the actual day with special activities, such as promotions, press conferences and press releases.

They are holding a special event day for WTM World Responsible Tourism Day

  • An industry only workshop day on Wednesday 07 November 2012 10am-4pm at Learn2 Rouse Hill (a series of workshops designed to help small business make their product, business and environment more responsible and sustainable).

For more information, please follow the link.

Discover Queensland: Go Camping

The best way to enjoy the Queensland bush is to pitch your tent, or park your camper trailer or caravan in one of Queensland’s parks and forests. You can enjoy spectacular ocean views, watch the stars at night in the middle of the bush, spot unique wildlife and enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities from bushwalking to adventure sports.

Make a Queensland national park or forest your next destination for a bush or beach getaway. Places include camping areas close to towns and suburbs to secluded campsites away from crowds. There is a new online camping and vehicle permit booking system available at Bookings can also be done through the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service business centers, an authorised booking agent or by phone on 13 74 68.

Ecotourism Australia’s Annual General Meeting in Focus

The 2012 Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held on Day 2 of the Global Eco Asia Pacific Tourism Conference in Cairns. The members present at the AGM unanimously approved the proposed changes to the Constitution. Following the elections and subsequent Board Meeting, the Board of Ecotourism Australia for 2012/2013 is:

  • Cameron Kerr (Chair)
  • Lisha Mulqueeny (Deputy Chair)
  • Tony Charters
  • Michael Collins
  • Andrew Daff
  • Professor Ross Dowling
  • Dr Claire Ellis
  • Shelley Lavender
  • Duncan MacKenzie
  • Rick Murray

The Chair, Cameron Kerr revisited the significant achievements over the past year for Ecotourism Australia:

  • Global Sustainable Tourism Council recognition: Ecotourism Australia is one of only 10 organisations world wide (and the only one in Australia) to be recognised by the UN supported Global Sustainable Tourism Council in December 2011. This brought tangible benefits initially to accommodation carrying Ecotourism and Advanced Ecotourism Certification being added to the Travelocity and Sabre Eco-Certified Hotel Program giving them global distribution to travel agents worldwide.
  • National Wildlife Corridors Advisory Group: Ecotourism Australia was proud to be invited to participate in the development of the National Wildlife Corridors Plan. This significant national policy initiative is essential in the important development of large scale, cross border landscape conservation connectivity planning to support biodiversity in the face of all manner of changes to ecosystems including climate change.
  • ECO IV Upgrade: The importance of standing out in an increasingly crowded market has never been more evident. To ensure our accreditation system retains its status in the market, Ecotourism Australia has released the ECOIV upgrade and all ECO Certified operators are currently going through the upgrade process. While this requires some additional time upfront, it ensures that the ECO standard is at best practice and all operators carrying the symbol are operating at the highest standards possible.
  • Corporate Governance: Over the past 18 months, the Directors of Ecotourism Australia under the guidance of a Corporate Governance Committee have been working several levels of Board evaluation and review. This is an ongoing process of continuous improvement, but we hope for our members it will give you the faith that your Board are operating effectively and efficiently on your behalf.
  • Advocacy: Over this last year our CEO, Kym Cheatham has been tirelessly representing our sector at a wide range of government and industry forums to ensure that policy planning and decisions take into account our operator’s needs.

Ecotourism Australia have achieved a great deal this year under trying conditions and look forward to new and exciting challenges in the future.

For further information on Ecotourism Australia please visit our website.

Minister Launches New Byron Bay Attractions

Two new tourist attractions developed with state government funding were launched on 21 October by the NSW Local Government Minister Don Page

A 2.5km mountain bike trail opened at Byron Bay Farmstay between Byron Bay and Bangalow, while Byron Eco Cruises and Kayaks launched their operations on the Brunswick River.

The money was made available as part of the government’s $5 million Regional Tourism Product Development Funding Program.

‘These tours and attractions are a great boost to the experiences on offer for visitors to the northern rivers,’ said Mr Page.

‘The NSW government is delighted to see funding cooperatively invested with tourism operators to help realise some very innovative projects.

‘The trail is the first and only mountain bike trail on private land in the northern rivers that will be open to the public,’ said Byron Bay Farmstay co-manager Ivan Holland.

‘It was designed and constructed with input from International Mountain Biking Australia, which gives it great credibility amongst mountain biking enthusiasts around the world.’

The trail complements the current farm accommodation operation on the property and has already been enthusiastically received by the newly formed local mountain bike club Northern Rivers Dirty Wheels.

Visitors and locals alike can now experience the natural beauty of Brunswick Heads through Byron Eco Cruises and Kayaks. The tours, which have been operating on a trial basis since mid year, are now operating daily.

‘Our tours are advanced eco-tourism certified and we believe the only form of sustainable tourism is ecotourism,’ said Byron Bay Eco Cruises and Kayaks proprietor Simon Freeden.

‘This is ‘jungle kayaking’ territory, yet an easy kayaking adventure for most people that is not tide affected and can be scheduled at a regular time each day.’

2012 Global Eco Conference Wrap

The 2012 Global Eco Asia Pacific Conference held in Cairns from 15 to 17 October was a great success, with a significant  group of tourism operators, industry leaders and keynote speakers from all around the world.

The 2012 conference was an opportunity to bring together leading players from across the globe and examine the best practices across Sustainability, Ecotourism, Cultural and Heritage Tourism, Tourism in Protected Areas and Climate Change Response.

The conference opened with a Welcome to Country from Henrietta Marrie, Gimuy Wallubarra Yidinji people of Cairns. The greatly anticipated Bruce Poon Tip followed soon after and discussed the Social Revolution and explained that many tourism businesses build amazing tourism products but don’t really know how to sell them and that  ‘The skill is in the selling’. Bruce also explained that people will choose a sustainable product over the same product if all things are equal. He went on to discuss how we as an industry can get consumers to pay a premium for sustainable products.

Day one concluded with an Asia Pacific Forum, followed by industry leaders sharing their experiences and success stories in Ecotourism within Australia.

The second day opened with David Wilks from the department of conservation New Zealand discussing the issues our neighbours are facing and how they are overcoming these through conservation and ecotourism. A moving case study from Cambodia was given from Kristin Holdø Hansen discussing a hotel mentoring program that was created with an aim to empower locals. Richard Edwards from discussed the importance of product development and sharing ‘our story’ for tourism operators around the globe. Edwards suggests that consumers don’t want to know what you do in terms of sustainability, they want to see it incorporated into who you are.

The three concurrent theme stream sessions; Sustainable Destination Management  Communities Benefiting from Strategic Partnerships and Tourism in Terrestrial and Marine Protected Areas provided greater insight into these key issues in Australian tourism.

The third and final day of the conference began with the Indigenous Tourism Forum with keynote speakers sharing the importance of long term engagement with communities in order to create new opportunities for Traditional Owners as well as  protecting the environment from visitor impacts.

The four concurrent theme streams for the day were; Indigenous & Cultural Tourism, Optimising Tropical Ecotourism, Marketing Eco Wonders and Tourism in Terrestrial & Marine Protected Areas, with both Australian and international speakers sharing their experiences and innovative ideas that have led to change and success.

The final session began with the Asia-Pacific Tourism Forum and concluded with the Tourism and Protected Area Forum (TAPAF) Leaders Panel debating Quality vs Quantity and Value vs Volume: What is the role of Ecotourism in leading a change in the Australian tourism model? It was argued that the industry needs to consider quality with quantity and value with volume.

The Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games the Hon. Jan Stuckey MP gave the closing address and expressed the importance of tourism and in particular ecotourism in building a strong four pillar economy in Queensland.

Cameron Kerr, the Chair of Ecotourism Australia closed the conference by thanking the keynote speakers over the three days and was enthused to see so many people leave with new and inspired ideas to establish innovative goals for 2013.

For more information on the Global Eco Asia Pacific Conference program and keynote speakers please visit the website.

G Adventures Announce OZ & NZ tours at the Global Eco Conference

Attendees at the 2012 Global Eco Asia Pacific Conference were some of the first to hear the announcement that for the first time in its 22-year history, small group adventure travel operator G Adventures is launching a comprehensive collection of trips in Australia and New Zealand. These destinations complete the company’s product line-up as the seventh and last continent it operates tours on.

G Adventures’ founder, Bruce Poon Tip, says the company has been researching and developing the new program for two years, creating trips that give travellers different cultural experiences down under.

“We recognized an opportunity to offer something new and exciting in Australia and New Zealand, and to provide our guests with a different experience to what is available in terms of indigenous and community tourism. We included the local communities in the development of itineraries to ensure a fair trade arrangement and that local people benefit from us being there.”

“It’s a huge move for us to launch 25 itineraries in an entirely new market, especially as we’ve also just announced we’re the first adventure tour operator to offer 100% guaranteed departures for all our trips in 2013.  Our loyal customers tell us the demand is there, so we’re confident,” says Poon Tip.

The new Australia and New Zealand program consists of four major routes: Sydney to Cairns and Melbourne to Darwin in Australia, and the North Island and South Island of New Zealand. Travellers can focus on one entire route or combine sections to create a customized itinerary.  Tours vary from three to 21 days and are available in Yolo (18 – 35yr) and G-Plus (comfort) trip styles.

Accommodation and transport styles play an important part in the experience and include a tipi in a hippie commune, canvas swags under the stars, secluded eco-lodges, riding the Ghan train and staying on an historic yacht.

Departures to Australia and New Zealand start in January 2013 and are on sale now. The new Australia and New Zealand 2013 brochure will be available from early-December.

For more information please visit