Carbon Offsetting as an Effective Tool in Sustainable Tourism

The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) has been taking a closer look at carbon offsetting practices within the tourism industry. The Carbon Neutral Company defines carbon offsets as “credits for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions made at another location”, for example, investing in wind farms to generate renewable energy to “offset” fossil fuel-derived energy. Some groups at Doha have advocated for the “Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)“, which, through trading of carbon credits, aims to “balance the books” on carbon emissions.

Challenges with Carbon Offsetting Project Management

Tourism businesses and destinations can “offset” travelers’ carbon emissions by calculating their travel-related emissions (air travel, local transportation, accommodation, etc.) and by making financial contributions to projects that addresscarbon-offset-tree-planting climate impact mitigation (e.g. tree planting, reforestation, subsidising renewable energy, or increasing energy efficiency). Costa Rica, for example, with the help of CANAECO, is aiming to be a carbon-neutral destination by sequestering 20% of all yearly flight emissions and planting 400,000 trees every year.

Overall, quality carbon offset projects should consist of actions that would not have occurred without the extra support. Tree-planting, for example, is one of the frequently implemented approaches to carbon offsetting projects, and is a convenient tool. Well-maintained tree-planting projects can serve as a breeding ground for promoting biodiversity, and may help reduce erosion risks, as well as providing positive effects for local communities through ecosystem services such as sustainable sources of firewood. Tree-planting projects that employ fast-growing, non-native trees provide far lower environmental benefits than those that focus on native species. In some cases, tree-planting may not be the optimal approach, as trees require more water than, for example, grasses and shrubs, and may require more skills and resources to manage and maintain.

Many critics of carbon offsetting argue that carbon offset schemes often give businesses and consumers the “excuse” for generating carbon emissions. Moreover, they note that carbon offsetting is often used as a way of making businesses look more attractive to consumers and often does not achieve what it claims. In order to be as truthful and effective as possible, tourism businesses and destinations should always be transparent, providing accurate information on the carbon offsetting schemes that they are engaged in. They have the responsibility to not only get the technicalities right, but also to accurately explain to their consumers what they are doing and how they are achieving their goals.

Ccarbon-offset-solararbon offsetting, in addition, should not be employed as a stand-alone strategy to address a business or a destination’s climate-friendly practices; rather, it should be considered as part of a mix of strategies including – measuring footprint, reducing emissions, managing impact, and compensating for the emissions that cannot be avoided.

The following are just a few examples of international tourism stakeholders that incorporate carbon offsetting schemes into their sustainability practices:

  • Spirit of Japan Travel offers tours throughout Japan for travelers to experience the culture of Japan and is a carbon neutral company. They offset their tour-related carbon emissions by investing portions of their profit in environmental organisations and renewable energy devices as well as planting of native trees with local communities and travelers.
  • Tahi is an estate situated in the North Island of New Zealand who offsets their carbon emissions by planting native trees and shrubs, providing carbon credits and selling them, establishing their own carbon accounting system as well as balancing its activities for carbon offsetting through employing a carbon researcher.

For the full story and for further information please visit the TIES website.

Welcoming Chinese Visitors

At a China Tourism Industry Forum, the Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson, officially launched the Welcoming Chinese Visitors program to a group of industry leaders on 12 December 2012. The launched coincided with celebrations for the 40th anniversary of bilateral relations.

The Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson AM MP, speaking at the China Tourism Industry Forum, highlighted the increasing importance of Chinese tourism to Australia. “Figures released this year have shown China overtaking the United Kingdom as our number two market by visitor numbers, in addition to being our most valuable,” Minister Ferguson said.

“Global competition to attract Asian visitors is fierce and intensifying, meaning government and industry must ensure Australia caters to the demands of this fast growing market. To assist the industry to grow Chinese inbound tourism, the training modules were today launched for the Welcoming Chinese Visitors project, a key deliverable of Tourism 2020.”

From 12 December 2012, operators all over Australia will be able to express their interest in this program from the dedicated website Welcoming Chinese Visitors.

“The $1.2 million Welcoming Chinese Visitors project will help the tourism industry take advantage of the opportunities being presented by the Asian Century,” said Minister Ferguson.

The program, delivered by specialist training organisation, AVANA, in partnership with China Ready & Accredited, and TAFE NSW Western Sydney Institute, will commence in February 2013 and will help operators get ready for the increase in Chinese visitors. Participants will receive practical and well-informed information on the market, its needs and expectations and assistance in navigating the complex distribution channels required in taking products to the market.

“In addition, China Ready & Accredited has been endorsed by the national tourism accreditation framework, T-QUAL, and this will give businesses they accredit the opportunity to use the T‑QUAL Tick, the national symbol of tourism quality.

“The Australian Government is continually investing in our relationship with China. This year alone we have launched of the latest There’s Nothing Like Australia campaign in Shanghai, started to roll out the $48.5 million Asian Marketing Fund and expanded Tourism Australia’s presence in China through the 2020 China strategy.

“There is still further to go and building on our 2011 Memorandum of Understanding with the China National Tourism Administration, we must continue to strengthen our partnerships with Chinese tourism authorities.”

For more information on the Welcoming Chinese Visitors project please visit the website.

Click Here to view the ministers full media release.

Have you thought about EcoGuide Certification?

EcoGuide Certification is a useful and valuable qualification for guides at all stages of their professional career. ECO certified operators use guides with this qualification to ensure their customers will be delivered an authentic, environmentally responsible and professional experience.  The program covers both generic guiding skills plus EcoGuide specific minimal impact skills.

The Eco Guide accreditation program has been a real benefit to my
operation and to myself as a guide. My clients seem to readily identify with
the Eco Guide logo – and give preference to my operation as an Eco Accredited
operation using Eco Guides. I am sure it contributes to us having a steady flow
of bookings year after year.
” –Mike Keighley, winner of the 2012 EcoGuide Award of Excellence.

OEcoGuide Logo

To find out more about the EcoGuide certification program, please visit our website.

Diamantina Touring Company Becomes ROC Certified

Diamantina Touring has added ROC Certification to its already existing Advanced Ecotourism Certification.

ROC LogoThe tour operator has led multi award winning expeditions to the Australian Outback inviting guests to discover secluded gorges, alpine wilderness and vast deserts. Tours also involve learning about the unique local flora and fauna and understanding aboriginal culture.

Diamantina Touring has been committed to minimize their environmental footprint and to promote Indigenous culture and history. Their reputation relies on the minimal impact their business has had on the visited areas over 10 years’ practice. Their tours are conducted by knowledgeable guides aiming at inspiring visitors environmentally and their new ROC Certification is certainly a guarantee of their commitment to also inspire visitors culturally.

For more information about ROC Certification, visit our website.

For more information about Diamantina Touring, visit their website.

National Wildlife Corridors Plan Released

The National Wildlife Corridors Plan – a bold vision for reconnecting the Australian landscape through a network of wildlife corridors has recently been released.

tony-burkeEnvironment Minister, Tony Burke, said the Corridors Plan was an initiative to improve resilience for the environment by connecting protected areas.

“You can look at a map of reserved areas and sometimes it looks like someone has dipped a toothbrush in paint and splattered different unconnected dots across the land”, Mr Burke said.

“Corridors are about connecting those dots; it’s a way of improving resilience and ensuring that we are protecting nature in a way that preserves it for generations to come.

“The Plan unveiled outlines a process for communities to identify and nominate areas they believe will contribute to a national network of wildlife corridors. An area that meets the criteria and is declared as a National Wildlife Corridor may be eligible for priority funding under a range of Australian Government funding programs.

“This is about setting priorities for conservation funding. The plan does not, of itself, lock up any land.

“The Corridors Plan identifies a number of ways communities can become involved in wildlife corridor initiatives, contributing to biodiversity conservation at the landscape scale and improving the sustainability of their local and regional areas.

“Under the Corridors Plan, communities will be able to nominate wildlife corridors for recognition and declaration as National Wildlife Corridors. Over time, a network of wildlife corridors will be established across Australia, benefiting our biodiversity, and our agricultural and built environments.”

Endorsement of the Corridors Plan meets the Government’s 2010 election commitment to establish a wildlife corridors plan that increases the resilience of Australia’s native plants and animals, and agricultural landscapes, so they are more able to withstand the impacts of climate change.5941 DSEWPaC-NWC_map B_v12_Feb2012

Mr Burke thanked the National Wildlife Corridors Plan Advisory Group who undertook a thorough consultation process on the draft plan with stakeholders across the community.

“The consultation undertaken by the independent advisory group was essential in ensuring the community had input into the National Wildlife Corridors Plan,” he said.

“The insights provided by regional natural resource management organisations, environment groups, local and state governments, scientists, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, tourism organisations, planning organisations and agricultural and mining peak bodies were all considered by the Advisory Group during the consultation on the draft Plan.”

The plan will help guide future government investment through a range of initiatives, such as Caring for our Country and the Biodiversity Fund. The Clean Energy Future Plan’s Land Sector Carbon and Biodiversity Board will provide advice to the Environment Minister on wildlife corridors within the landscape.

The National Wildlife Corridors Plan can be downloaded from the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities website.

Seasons Greetings from Ecotourism Australia

As we come to the end of 2012 with Christmas and New Year just around the corner, this year has once again been encouraging and rewarding for the ecotourism industry and the protection of the environment and local communities.

On behalf of the board and Ecotourism Australia team we would like to wish Seasons Greetings to all our readers and certified operators.

Click here for our special Christmas message

We hope that 2013 will be even more inspiring. It has been designated as the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation focusing on the major issues of water shortage combined to growing global population and environmental impacts.

The Ecotourism Australia office will be closed from 21st December 2012 to 6th January 2013 inclusive so that the ‘Elves’ can have a well-deserved break!

ROC and Climate Action Business Certifications for Daintree River Cruise Centre

Green Travel Leader Daintree River Cruise Centre has achieved ROC Certification and Climate Action Business Certification.


Already Advanced Ecotourism certified, the business is one of the oldest operators present on the Daintree River. Located on the banks of the river where the mangroves merge with the rainforest, Daintree River Cruise Centre offers guests informational cruises to learn about the local eco system.

ROC Logo

Conducted by well-informed naturalists and biologists, their tours are also an opportunity to spot Estuarine crocodiles, frogs, pythons, tree snakes and other wildlife. Daintree River Cruise Centre is strongly involved in the protection of mangroves and has increased their environmental and cultural commitment by becoming Climate Action Business and ROC certified.

For more information about becoming Climate Action certified, visit our website.

For more information about becoming ROC certified, visit our website.

For more information about Daintree River Cruise Centre or to make a booking, visit their website.