Ecotourism Australia’s Excellence and Innovation Awards 2013 NOW OPEN

The Excellence and Innovation Awards, formerly known as the Gecko Awards, recognise the best of the best in environmentally sustainable and culturally responsible tourism in Australia. The Awards will be announced at the 2013 Global Eco Conference to take place in Noosa, QLD during the conference dinner on Monday 18th November.

This year three awards are on offer:

  • Innovation in Ecotourism Award
  • Excellence in Indigenous Tourism Award – sponsored by the Indigenous Champions Program
  • Ecotourism Australia Lifetime Achievement Medal

Don’t miss out! Submissions close COB Monday 14 October!

Click here for the 2013 EA Excellence & Innovation Awards Criteria. Please send all inquiries and submissions to

Please note only electronic submissions will be accepted.

We look forward to receiving your application.

The green sheen of Greenwashing

The term ‘greenwashing’ refers to the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the benefits of a product or service. It is an issue coming further into prominence as the global environmental conscience grows.

While more and more people are being mindful of climate change and environmental impacts in their day-to-day life, many businesses are taking advantage of the public’s growing preference to make environmentally friendly choices by branding their products and services as ‘green’, when they actually have no grounds for claiming the title. Underwriters Laboratories have identified several sins associated with greenwashing; vagueness, unsubstantiated claims, irrelevance, hidden trade-offs, false labels, fibbing and the lesser of two evils.

Photo courtesy of

Some items that claim to be ‘natural’ may contain toxic substances like arsenic or mercury, which are indeed ‘natural’ but are not necessarily safe. Others may claim to be ‘CFC Free’, but as CFCs were banned years ago, such a claim has become irrelevant. When a product claims to be recyclable, it may only refer to the packaging and not to the product itself. When a product claims to use ‘green’ resources, it may still use harmful chemicals or processes during production. And some products stand as contradictions, for example; ‘organic cigarettes’ or ‘fuel-efficient sport-utility vehicles’.

The trend is concerning for consumers as they often find themselves paying more when they buy products made by companies who are simply cashing in on the hype associated with eco-friendly options.

To be sure you’re not fooled by the fad, here are some tips to ensure the products and services you pay for are making legitimate claims:

  • Don’t just be distracted by the packaging, fancy logos and marketing hype;
  • Read the label; look out for products that’s claims are defined, detailed and backed by knowledge;
  • Be wary of environmental claims that do not outline the products impact throughout its entire life-cycle, look for products that outline their life-cycle from the point of manufacture to reuse or recycle;
  • Check the ingredients to be sure they are listed in full and in plain English so you are able to look them up if you wish;
  • Look out for helpful contact information; if a product offers contact details or sources to find out information and evidence about their product and their claims, they are more likely to be legitimate;
  • Look for products and services that are endorsed or certified by reputable organisations.

Nowadays, choosing ‘green’ products doesn’t always mean paying more. When you travel, you can save money and be green by exploring a new city on a bicycle or using public transport instead of hiring a car. There are many budget accommodations and experiences that operate responsibly, contribute back to conservation and do their part to be accountable for their impact on their surrounds. Ecotourism Australia is committed to certifying tourism operators that are environmentally sustainable and culturally and social responsible, and are proud to have certified a diverse range of tourism operations to suit all preferences and budgets.

To read more about Greenwashing, check out these articles:
Drowning in Greenwash
Greenwashing: Can you trust the label?
What is Greenwashing?: Your guide to misadvertising

Finch Hatton Gorge Cabins achieves Advanced Ecotourism Certification

Congratulations to Finch Hatton Gorge Cabins for achieving Advanced 


Ecotourism Certification for their cabins and restaurant.

Finch Hatton Gorge Cabins and Restaurant are situated in a secluded setting off Pioneer Valley, 80 km west of Mackay Queensland. Their four self contained cabins sit unobtrusively facing a crystal clear creek, nestled in beautifully landscaped gardens where customers can enjoy the unspoiled rainforest from their veranda. Guests can also enjoy delicious homemade evening meals made form the freshest of ingredients, delivered their cabins private veranda overlooking the babbling water.

The on-site River Rock

To find out more about Finch Hatton Gorge Cabins and restaurant or make a booking, visit their website with it’s huge open plan pole house design, juts out over  the river bed offering diners a tranquil ambiance and a delicious array of meals made from fresh local produce.

To find out more about Ecotourism Australia Advanced Ecotourism Certification, click here.

Congratulations to Aqua Fun


Congratulations to Aqua Fun for achieving Nature Tourism Certification for their Aqua Hire offerings and Advanced Ecotourism Certification for their school group tours.

Nature Tourism Certified

Aqua Fun offers equipment hire for a broad variety of water adventure activities on the New South Wales Central Coast for young and old with different levels of fitness and abilities. As safety is their first priority, all crafts are equipped with life jackets free of charge as well as sun-screen. In order to enable all guests a smooth and exiting experience, qualified kayak instructors inform guests about all details that are important for a safe and unforgettable experience.

Guests can choose between single, double or quadruple pedal-boats, different types of kayaks and surf skis. Aqua Fun also caters for children with their newly certified school group tours that guarantee a lot of fun and excitement for children.

For more information on Aqua Fun, click here.

For more information about Nature Tourism certification and Advanced Ecotourism certification, please visit our website.

Flying responsibly

While many travellers try their best to minimise their impact on the environment when they travel by looking for certified operators or opting for more sustainable modes of land transport, it has always proved to be tricky when it comes to air travel. Often the flight to and from your destination is where you leave the biggest carbon footprint. Here are some points to consider the next time you fly.

When we fly, we often look for the cheapest option, which may not necessarily be the shortest route – meaning we are spending more time in the air for the sake of a few bucks. Consider this thought the next time you book a flight.

Flying business class has three times the carbon weighting than flying economy because there is so much extra space allocated for just one individual. Consider economy, or a low-cost carrier.

Your extra baggage is increasing your carbon footprint. The more luggage you travel with, the more weight the plane has to carry; heavier aircraft produce more emissions as they work harder. Travel light and save your duty-free shopping for when you land.

Look for airlines that allow for you to “offset” your omissions through reputable programs. Ensure that the extra fee you pay for peace of mind is going to an accredited carbon offset project that meets the Australian Government’s National Carbon Offset Standard. Opt for airlines with a good reputation for commitment to environmental responsibility.

While the topic of reducing environmental impacts is a tricky one for air travel, every little effort adds up, so stay carbon-conscious the next time you fly.

For more information on how to be a responsible traveller, click here. 

How Aussie’s travel: the latest stats for June 2013

Tourism Research Australia has just released their Quarterly results of the National Visitor Survey for Travel by Australians for the year end June 2013.

Overall, the findings indicated an increase in domestic travel. 75.3 million overnight trips taken in Australia by Australians aged 15 years and over, visitor expenditure amounted to $51.4 billion, and Aussie’s spent 288 million nights away from home. Each of these statistics saw an increase of 3% over the same period in 2012.

67% of visitors travelled within their state or territory of residence, with 33% venturing interstate. The states to receive the most visitors were New South Wales (33%), Queensland (26%) and Victoria (20%). Respectively, the most popular states for visitor nights were New South Wales, receiving 29%, followed by Queensland (26%) and Victoria (20%).

47% of domestic overnight visitors travelled with the main purpose of holidaying. While 31% were visiting friends and relatives, and 16% travelled for business.

The most popular types of accommodation for overnight visitors was a friend or relatives property (37%), followed by a hotel, resort, motel or motor inn (26%). While the most popular forms of transport used for overnight trips were a private vehicle (72%) and air transport (24%).

For more detail or to access the full report, click here.

Celebrate World Tourism Day 2013!

Today is World Tourism Day!

This annual event aims at raising awareness about the importance of tourism in regards to its socio-cultural, political and economic aspects. Established by the UNWTO General Assembly, the first World Tourism Day took place in 1980. Since then, it has been celebrated annually through related themes selected by the UNWTO General Assembly


People of all ages are invited to take part in celebrations either in their respective country or holiday destination while the official World Tourism Day celebrations take part in a UNWTO member state.

This year, the World Tourism Day celebrations will take place in the Maldives with the theme “Tourism and Water: Protecting our Common Future”. This year, the celebration aims at raising awareness about the role of tourism in relation to water access by encouraging a more sustainable usage of water in the tourism industry. 

It is also an opportunity to make people reflect their own impact as a traveller in terms of sustainable water consumption.

Find out more about World Tourism Day and get involved at