New vision for Queensland with Release of Ecotourism Plan

On 27 August, the Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing (NPRSR) released the new Queensland Ecotourism Plan 2013–2020. The plan was developed following a six-week public consultation period during which 78 written submissions were received from organisations and individuals.

Low Isles

Key issues raised through the public consultation centred around six themes:

  1. conservation and protection—the majority of submissions (72%) identified resource protection and conservation as critical to maintaining Queensland’s high-quality natural values, which underpin the ecotourism industry
  2. wildlife
  3. links to other initiatives
  4. adventure and indigenous ecotourism and opportunities
  5. eco-certification
  6. partnerships

Read the Queensland Ecotourism Plan at

Congratulations to our newly certified EcoGuides

Ecotourism Australia would like to congratulate our newly certified EcoGuides for 2013.

These individuals have achieved EcoGuide certification and are now endorsed as guides who will deliver an authentic, environmentally responsible, and professional Ecotourism experience using best practice initiatives. Guests on their tours and tourism operators looking for new guides can be assured that certified EcoGuides hold an high standard of experience and expertise when it comes to guiding and responsible tourism practices.

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  • Saki Hashimoto
  • Daisuke Kato
  • Ayaka Shirai
  • Kym Evans
  • David Mitchell
  • Michiyo Fujito
  • Makiko Yoneda
  • Gail Betts
  • Gregory Howard

For more information on EcoGuide certification or how to become an EcoGuide, click here.

Under Down Under Tours ROCk Tassie tourism

ROC Logo

Ecotourism Australia would like to send out a big congratulations to Under Down Under Tours, the first tourism operator in Tasmania to achieve our Respecting Our Culture (ROC) certification.

Under Down Under has held Advanced Ecotourism Certification for fifteen of their tour products for a number of years and is also an Ecotourism Australia Green Travel Leader. They are pioneers for budget adventure tourism in Tasmania and pride themselves in offering relaxed and unforgettable experiences with minimal impact on the fragile and unique Tasmanian environment.

Under down under

Under Down Under offer a wide range of adventure tour experiences, with a focus on respecting natural environments, for independent travellers, backpackers and small groups. Ranging from day trips to 9-day expeditions, tours cover all the Tassie highlights and offer optional extras for those seeking a more challenging and adventurous experience.

To find out more about Down Under Tours or to book your own Tasmanian tour, click here.

To find out more about ROC certification, click here.

Freycinet Experience achieves Advanced Ecotourism Certification


Congratulations to Freycinet Experience for achieving Advanced Ecotourism certification!

Freycinet Experience offers a four-day award winning guided walk, covering the entire length of the Freycinet Peninsula of Tasmania’s East Coast. Guests, limited to groups of no more than ten, visit the iconic Wineglass Bay, stunning coastal rain-forests and the dramatic Hazard Mountains. Led by engaging and knowledgeable guides, guests discover diverse marine and wildlife, the beauty of the local flora, and breathtaking landscapes. “Walk beaches of powder white sand, hike pink granite mountains and discover forests of towering white gums where you and your walking companions feel like the only souls on earth.” 

By night, guests return to relaxation at the Friendly Beaches Lodge, nestled in the Freycinet National Park and boasting ultimate rejuvenation after a days walk with hot showers, deep baths, comfortable beds, a library open for your perusal, and local cuisine prepared by the friendly hosts. The uncomplicated luxury of the lodge paired with invigorating walks by day offers a perfect rejuvenating experience.

For more information on Freycinet Experience Walks, click here.

For more information on Advanced Ecotourism certification, click here.

Changes to QLD National Park Tourism

Ecotourism Australia welcomes the news announced by the Queensland government, to make our ECO Certification program mandatory for tourism operators, operating within Queensland’s national parks.

In late July, the Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing (NPRSR) announced the introduction of the Queensland Eco and Sustainable Tourism policy, QuEST. Here’s how the new policy will impact on national parks tourism operators within national park areas, along with some explanation of the implications it will bring to the fore.

The QuEST policy is replacing the previous Tourism in Protected Areas policy (TIPA). It will keep some existing essential policy components, while also improving access and providing new opportunities for Ecotourism operators in national parks, streamlining administration processes, supporting authorised operators, and promoting best practice tourism experiences.

There will be a number of improvements accompanying the introduction of the QuEST policy. New and established tourism businesses operating within QuEST areas will be guaranteed business certainty, and will be provided with ongoing support. Administration processes will be streamlined as renewal requirements are reduced; subject to renewal after ten years as apposed to three, reporting on returns will be due quarterly as apposed to monthly, and forms and payments facilities will be accessible online.

Opportunities for Ecotourism growth will arise as new national park areas are opened for public use. The QuEST policy involves assessment of locations for their development potential and ecological, economical and social sustainability to ensure growth is limited to locations that will be able to sustain it. It is paramount that development occurs only in areas that can sustain such an impact and comply with current nature conservation and cultural values. Tourism operators will require a minimum level of ECO Certification for any operations occuring within QuEST areas.

Changes introduced through implementation of the QuEST policy include the transition from the commercial activity permit to the commercial activity agreement, which must be obtained by any business entity, organisation or individual undertaking an identified commercial activity within QuEST areas.

The Commercial Activity Agreement:
Under the Tourism in Protected Areas policy, tourism operators offering tours into National Park locations required commercial activity permits, which lasted up to three years. With QuEST, permit requirements and processes have changed. The commercial activity agreement differs from the previous permit not only in longevity, now lasting 15-years, but also in flexibility; it may be transferred if a business is sold. It calls for quarterly returns rather than monthly, and requires renewal at the ten year mark, rather than every three years.

Tourism operators who currently hold such permits are eligible to transfer to a commercial activity agreement without incurring an application fee. Tourism operators will only require one agreement for multiple activities conducted across multiple areas. Operators may transfer before their current permits expire, waiving the application fee, or transfer on expiry of their existing permit. Any existing tourism operators who choose not to take up an agreement may continue to operate only until expiry of their current permit.

All tourism operators holding commercial activity agreements must apply for NPRSR endorsed ECO Certification of any tourism product which operate within QuEST areas. Applications must be made within 12-months of the release of QuEST, and be finalised within 18-months of the release of QuEST.

Fees associated with the commercial activity agreement determined according to the number of passengers carried on tours and will be paid in arrears. Fees will be set with regard to regulations according to location, with a view to establish a consistent fee structure.

Why is ECO Certification mandatory?
Queensland’s national parks are a major tourism draw card; a privilege for all to see, it is in everyone’s best interest to ensure they stay pristine for future generations. Mandatory ECO Certification will ensure that tourism ventures have minimal impact on the fragile ecosystems within national park areas in which they operate. It will help to protect national park environments, while ensuring best practice business operations and premium tourism experiences for guests. When a tourism operator carries ECO Certification, visitors are assured of their commitment to sustainable environmental practices and high quality nature-based experiences.

When does the QuEST begin?
The implementation of QuEST will be monitored by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS), it is to be implemented in stages over the next two years to the following locations:

  • Fraser Island Recreation Area
  • Moreton Island Recreation Area
  • Whitsunday Islands Area
  • Daintree National Park
  • Cooloola Recreation Area

QPWS will communicate directly with all permitted operators regarding specific date periods for implementation.

For more information on the QuEST policy, please click here.

For advice to tourism operators within QuEST areas, please find a fact sheet here.

For information on Ecotourism Australia certification programs, please click here.

The Green Suppliers to the Tourism Industry

The following companies are proud members of Ecotourism Australia and are amongst Australia’s leading green businesses committed to sustainability.

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Banksia Marketing - ImageBanksia Marketing

Banksia Marketing specialise in cost-effective marketing and consulting services for small to medium businesses; and specifically for the tourism and travel industry.
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Concept Amenities

Concept AmenitiesConcept Amenities Hotel guest bathroom amenities, 100% biodegradable in landfill in a few years against 450 years.

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EcoPro 2EcoPro Consultancy

EcoPro assists tourism operators to develop, promote and showcase their Ecotourism credentials.

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Environmental enterprisesEnvironmental Enterprises

Supplier of fully biodegradable compostable catering and packaging products Australia wide. A family owned and operated environmental packaging company since 1997.

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John Cameron ArchitectsJohn Cameron Architects

We help you with ecotourism design for buildings and infrastructure, plus sustainable practices and accreditation.

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links-shell-graphixShell Graphix

Shell Graphix is a graphic design and website design agency. Our number one focus is making your business look amazing.

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Fish Get Freaky Sooner As Ocean Heats Up

In an interesting new study by CSIRO, it has been found that the breeding patterns of various marine life are changing as ocean temperatures rise due to Global Warming.

Research has found that as the ocean’s surface temperatures rise, the breeding and migration times of various marine species have been advancing. It has been determined that on average, these patterns have been advancing at a rate of 4.4 days each decade, as opposed to an advance of between 2.3 – 2.8 days each decade for land based species.

Interesting also is that despite the ocean’s surface temperatures rising at a rate three times slower than land air temperatures, marine life are reacting to the effects at a significantly faster rate than terrestrial species.

It was also found that South-East tropical and subtropical species of fish, molluscs and plankton are shifting much further south through the Tasman Sea. And sea birds and various types of cool-water seaweeds have been shifting further south through the Indian Ocean from regions north of Perth.

CSIRO marine ecologist Dr Elvira Poloczanska said that “essentially, these findings indicate that changes in life events and distribution of species indicates we are seeing widespread re-organisation of marine ecosystems”. She explains the phenomenon further; “We expect marine organisms to have responded to recent climate change, with magnitudes similar to or greater than those found for terrestrial species.”

These shifts in behaviour may result in shifts in habitat areas, leading to significant repercussions for current recreational and commercial fishing areas, as well as new potential for other areas.

To read more about CSIRO’s study, click here.