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 GreenSpot.travel 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.