Congratulations to Dolphin Swim Australia

Congratulations to Dolphin Swim Australia for achieving Ecotourism Certification for their innovative tours that offer dolphins the opportunity to swim with humans!

Situated at Nelson Bay NSW, north of Sydney, Dolphin Swim Australia (DSA) provides a once in a lifetime experience for guests to jump into the wild world of oceanic dolphins within the Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park. The unique approach to wild dolphin swims incorporates innovative approach techniques never before seen in the industry, with the over-arching difference being that the dolphins choose to swim to with humans! The program has been subject to stringent monitoring and compliance operations to ensure that no harm comes to the dolphins, or any other marine life, or any guests.

The “swim with” experience offered by DSA took over four years to develop, with extensive in-house monitoring and research on the dolphin population, the development of an independent and ongoing monitoring and research project by dolphin expert, Dr Carol Scarpaci, from Victoria University, and in close collaboration with the Marine Park Authority NSW and the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service.

Each of DSA’s certified tours take place on the vessel, Imagine, which avoids disturbance to marine-life with it’s low-level engine noise and shrouded propellers, and has been fitted with rope rigging between its two bows. Guests are harnessed to the rope and the “swim with” experience occurs if the wild dolphins decide to entertain themselves by swimming to the boat, bow-riding and investigating the humans.

DSA operates to a strict environmental management plan to protect the dolphins and other marine life, and the delicate ecosystem in which they operate. Through the stringent processes involved with the planning of DSA, they have become closely involved with wild dolphin research in collaboration with NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service and Victoria University, and their goal is to educate all guests on the dolphins they encounter, as well as the broader marine ecosystem and marine park environment.

Dolphin Swim Australia has achieved Ecotourism certification for their tours; Wild Dolphin Swim, and The Best Wild Dolphin Watch on Planet Earth. To find out more about them, or to explore availability, please visit their website.

Congratulations to Surf N’ Dirt Adventure Tours Margaret River

Congratulations to Surf N’ Dirt Adventure Tours Margaret River for achieving Ecotourism certification for their Adventure Tours!

Surf N’ Dirt Adventure Tours focus on providing small groups of people a fantastic personalised adventure experience in the Margaret River region of Western Australia. Their adventure tours incorporate activities such as kayaking, surfing, mountain biking as well as exploring the regions renowned wineries and breweries.

The team at Surf N’ Dirt Adventure Tours work hard to minimise their impact on, and protect the environment in which they operate. They are committed to ensuring that all of their tours are conducted in an environmentally sustainable manner, and aim to maintain a positive balance in their relationships with the local economy, community, and environment.

Director, Paul Berry, works with the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park to help reach their conservation objectives, and operates tours with an aim to leave the areas that they venture into on a better state than when they arrived by carrying out any trace of their visit, and collecting rubbish they encounter along the way. Sustainability has been incorporated into every facet of the business, from “switch off” policies in office operations, to closely monitoring their carbon emissions and energy use, to monitoring track conditions and working with the National Park to mitigate concerns.

A core foundation of Surf N’ Dirt Adventure Tours is to educate guests on the ecological significance of the Margaret River region and to promote conservation of all environmental areas, ensuring that the environment is preserved for future generations to enjoy.

Surf N’ Dirt’s website is currently under development, you can find out more about them on their Facebook page.

Congratulations to Cooloola Eco Tours

Congratulations to Cooloola Eco Tours for achieving Ecotourism and Respecting Our Culture (ROC) Certifications for its tours; Cafe & Culture Tour, Tastebud-Tag-along Tour and the Eat-Drink-Walk Tour.

Cooloola Eco Tours is situated on Queensland’s Fraser Coast, operating within the Cooloola Recreation Area of the Great Sandy National Park, and based at Rainbow Beach. They aim to provide a natural, sustainable and cultural recreational experience for visitors with an emphasis on fun, education, appreciation of the environment and traveller responsibility. At the same time, they focuses on protecting the natural environment in which they operate and reducing their impact.

Cooloola Eco Tours work hard to keep their environmental impact to a minimum across all areas of their business operation, from using only recycled materials for their business cards and brochures, to working closely with their local community to produce carrier bags for their guests, and sourcing local and regional produce to showcase on all of their tours. Guests enjoy the ultimate Rainbow Beach experience, from the sand in their toes, right through to the food they eat.

Cooloola Eco Tours has many bright goals for the future, striving for continuous improvement, particularly when it comes to sustainability. Their website is currently under development, however, you can find out more about Cooloola Eco Tours by visiting their Facebook page here.

Key Findings from Australian Tourism Exchange 15

Last week, our Operations Manager, Emily, joined over 2,500 delegates at the Australian Tourism Exchange 2015 in Melbourne. The event proved to be a valuable experience, providing an opportunity to network, build positive relationships, and gain insight into current trends within the tourism industry and various markets. Tourism Australia put on a great event, showcasing some of the best culinary experiences from all across Australia in light of the Restaurant Australia campaign.

It was fantastic to see that Ecotourism Australia’s (EA) members made up 20% of all the Sellers present at the event, a strong indicator of the high standard of our certified operators. We shared a booth with our partners at Conservation Volunteers, and Emily was pleased to touch base with many of our members, put faces to names, and learn more about the success of their businesses. Across a busy schedule of 70 appointments, she also met with representatives from an array of wholesalers, retailers, travel agents and state tourism organisations. By the end of the four-day event, Emily came to several key findings based on the feedback received from Buyers:

  • The greatest interest in ecotourism, nature based tourism, and sustainability certification came from the European (particularly German), Canadian and the US markets.
  • Representatives from various Asian countries noted that interest in ecotourism and “getting off the beaten track” was beginning to grow among younger generations and more seasoned travellers. They also predicted interest would grow further following the introduction of Australia’s multiple entry 10-year visa for Chinese citizens as a result of the Australia-China free trade agreement.
  • Many Buyers showed great interest in EA’s online Green Travel Guide (GTG), the searchable database found on our website featuring all of our certified members, and indicated they would use it to search for new product. The GTG was a very valuable tool and was used during most appointments.
  • A number of Buyers expressed great interest in “hands on” voluntourism experiences that allow guests the opportunity to contribute to some form of conservation effort during their visit.
  • Buyers from online distribution channels and online travel agencies noted that when given a choice between a certified or non-certified experience, travellers were more inclined to choose the certified option, and that this is an increasing trend. These Buyers also noted that many certified operators listed on their sites often do not mention their certification in their listings.

Over the coming weeks, we will be following up on connections made at the event and working to further develop new and strengthen old relationships with the ultimate goal of bringing greater value to our members.

If you have any feedback or questions following our participation in the Australian Tourism Exchange, please don’t hesitate to contact our office.

(Pictured: Several of our certified operators with Rod, our CEO)

Congratulations to Cumberland Yacht Charters

Congratulations to Cumberland Charter Yachts for achieving Ecotourism certification for their vessel hire, self-sail, and Skipper Yourself Holidays!

CCY Logo with TextLocated at Airlie Beach in the stunning Whitsundays, Cumberland Charter Yachts have been offering bareboading holidays for 30 years. Their longevity is testament of their dedication to tourism and commitment in providing outstanding vessels and excellent customer service, it is their mission to exceed their clients holiday expectations.

Guests have the opportunity to skipper their own bareboat around the wonderful Whitsunday Islands, Cumberland offers a modern fleet with something to suit everyone, including; sailing and power catamarans, sailing yachts and fly bridge motor cruisers in a range of sizes. Experience star filled nights in tranquil anchorages, visit secluded bays and explore rainforest covered Islands. Sail to the world famous Whitehaven Beach and snorkel the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reed Marine Park, all at your own pace!

Cumberland take care to protect the fragile reef environment through active participation in the Clean Seas initiative, Eyes and Ears reporting, COTS monitoring and the Eye on the Reef program. They ensure all guests are comfortable, confident and have ready access to all the information they may need on Marine Park rules, regulations and zoning, and responsible reef practices, as well as educational material on the Ngaro Reef Trail and cultural sites, island and reef habitats.

Their decision to become Eco accredited was not driven by economic gains but focus on educating their clients on travelling green. By opting for an ecotourism experience/holiday over a conventional tourism package guests are making a conscious decision to reduce their impact.

They are also actively involved with their community, regularly donating their time and raising funds for worthy local and national causes, community members and groups in need.

Find out more about Cumberland Yacht Charters here.

View their Green Travel Guide listing here.