About Ecotourism Australia

Ecotourism Australia was formed in 1991 as an incorporated non-profit organisation, and is the peak national body for the ecotourism and sustainable tourism industry. Our VISION is to inspire environmentally sustainable and culturally responsible tourism. The ECO Certification Program is Ecotourism Australia's flagship program developed in 1995. Provides industry, protected area managers, local communities and travellers with an assurance that a certified experience is backed by a commitment to best practice ecological sustainability, natural area management and the provision of quality ecotourism experiences.

Ecotourism Australia’s ECO Certification Gains Global Approval

Ecotourism Australia’s ECO certification program has been Approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council(GSTC), as one of the first tourism certification programs in the world to meet the compliance requirements of theGSTC Approval Manual.

“GSTC Approval status brings further credibility to a well-respected and established brand, ECO certification, and raises its profile in the global arena. International guests can now recognise and choose with confidence high quality tour operators delivering true ecotourism experiences” said Rod Hillman – CEO Ecotourism Australia.

The GSTC establishes and manages global sustainable standards with the aim of increasing sustainable tourism knowledge and practices. They are an independent body, serving the important role of managing global standards for sustainability in travel and tourism.

The acceptance of ECO certification as a GSTC Approved standard builds on the ECO certified tour operators’ deserved reputation for delivering high quality, sustainable best practice, tourism experiences that have true conservation benefits. This level of excellence was evident at the recent Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) where 20% of all sellers were ECO certified, and at the National Tourism Awards where a third of all winners were ECO certified, and over 40% of all finalists were ECO certified.

Randy Durband, CEO GSTC, congratulated Ecotourism Australia on the achievement; “Congratulations, … Ecotourism Australia’s certification of travel products verifies to the traveling public that the claims of the travel provider are valid and based on EA’s independent, 3rd-party review of those claims. In the same manner, the ‘GSTC Approved’ mark indicates that an independent and neutral team of evaluators have determined that EA’s own processes for certifying travel products are transparent, impartial, and competent.

Travelers choosing products that are certified by Ecotourism Australia can be assured that those products are deemed sustainable according to the highest international standards.”

“In global terms Australia is a small market with a range of internally relevant brands. Attaining the GSTC Approved status allows ECO certified tour operators to proudly display the GSTC branding, instantly placing them in the global marketplace with a brand that is recognised and respected” said Rod Hillman – CEO of Ecotourism Australia.

“Australia should be the world’s premier nature based tourism destination with twelve (12) World Heritage Natural sites, a broad range of high quality ecotourism operators and well managed protected areas. ECO certification gaining GSTC Approved status is yet another way that Australia’s Nature Tourism Industry is proving itself ready, willing and able to claim its role on the world stage,” said Rod Hillman.

For Advanced Ecotourism and Ecotourism ECO certified tours, accommodations and attractions, the Approval means they can now display the GSTC Approved brand and will be registered in the GSTC Product Index. These operators will also be included in a broad based marketing strategy targeting online booking agencies and to various travel providers to use for purposes of preferential buying.

For further information on ECO certification or GSTC Approval, please don’t hesitate to contact our office.

Straddie Camping Introduce New Eco Shacks

Advanced Ecotourism, ROC and Climate Action certified operator, Straddie Camping, has unveiled two ‘first‐of‐a-kind’ EcoShacks at Amity Point Camping Ground on North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah), with the first guests welcomed on the 1st of July. The EcoShacks bring a new and unique ‘glamping’ accommodation experience to Straddie.

The new accommodation offering is part of Straddie Camping’s strategy to improve the North Stradbroke Island camping holiday experience, and to present the campgrounds in such as way that the nature and Aboriginal culture of the Island is celebrated and respected. The design of the EcoShacks, refers to the local traditional Aboriginal culture and kn wledge, while also reflecting on North Stradbroke Island’s proud history as a holiday destination.

Inspiration for the design of the EcoShacks was drawn from three sources:
1. The style of the traditional Australian tent,
2. The quintessential North Stradbroke Island beach shacks, and;
3. Quandamooka People’s culture and connection to country.

They feature their own rainwater tanks, large windows, fan cooling, and off-the ground positioning to take advantage of the island breezes. Windows and doors are fitted with heavy-duty roll down canvas zippered screens, and the main door features an inlayed design by local Quandamooka Artist Belinda Close. The EcoShacks face directly onto the beachfront, taking advantage of the magnificent sunsets over Moreton Bay.

A world renowned design team oversaw the construction of the EcoShacks, ensuring the Quandamooka People’s cultural considerations to land, seasons and wildlife, were integrated in the design concept and application. Environmental best practice technology is utilized for the treatment of water and sewerage to ensure a minimal environmental footprint, and landscaping use native species endemic to North Stradbroke Island.

Along with the new EcoShacks, a family friendly interpretive walk has been established, with signposted points of interest around the Amity Point Camping Ground providing information on the area’s rich Aboriginal history, as well as featuring ancient Aboriginal stories. The interpretive walk lets guests immerse themselves in the living cultural landscape of Minjerribah, and learn about the Quandamooka people’s connection to the land – dating back tens of thousands of years. Long before European settlement, Aborigines would meet on Minjerribah to share and exchange food, stories, knowledge; to trade, dance, perform initiations and participate in other cultural activities. This tradition of the Quandamooka people is one of generous hospitality and sharing. It’s a message that is equally important today.

The Amity Point township has a laid back seaside village vibe that welcomes all visitors, and is a popular fishing spot with the locals. The Amity Point Camping Ground is a spacious family friendly campground with calm water beach perfect for the kiddies, and an abundance of native wildlife. Straddie Camping will market test the new EcoShacks for use in other camping grounds, and will continue with cutting edge sustainability and cultural initiatives throughout all aspects of the business going forward.

Straddie Camping is a partnership between the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC) as shareholders, trustee and Traditional owners of the landand Indigenous Business Australia (IBA), a Commonwealth Statutory Authority. Considerable funds have been invested into the business, which have been used to refurbish the camping grounds and extend services, resulting in strong growth in recent years.

The business has also been awarded a number of Queensland tourism awards, including a Best Campground in QLD award.

Congratulations To Peninsula Hot Springs

Congratulations to Peninsula Hot Springs on achieving Nature Tourism certification for their Natural Thermal Mineral Spring Baths that offer a great opportunity for guests to enjoy nature and relax.

Officially opened in 2005, Peninsula Hot Springs (PHS) is the first natural hot springs and day spa centre in Victoria, located just 90 minutes from Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula. Natural thermal mineral waters flow into more than 30 pools, private baths and other bathing experiences from a geothermal aquifer 637 metres below the surface. Peninsula Hot Springs is a multi-award winning ecotourism attraction that sees more than 440,000 visitors per year. Entering the bathing area is like stepping into another world, a sanctuary where mind and body can relax in the beautiful natural surrounds.

Peninsula Hot Springs focuses on balancing the relationship between business and environment, incorporating sound environmental practices into every facet from initial construction through to daily management. They work towards the ultimate goal of developing an ecotourism facility which is recognised as a world leader in environmentally sound, minimal impact resort management. Well on their way to achieving this goal, they have introduced projects and policies for the protection and re-vegetation if their surrounding indigenous landscape, weed and pest management, protection of potential Aboriginal archaeological sites, waste, water and energy consumption.

Peninsula Hot Springs have also developed a climate change action policy through the engagement of an environmental consultant, which promises to educate guests on relevant environmental issues and climate change, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate their environmental impact, and sourcing local, sustainable produce and engaging sustainable service providers.

To find out more about Peninsula Hot Spring, please visit their website.

A third of all 2014 Qantas Australian Tourism Award Winners are ECO certified!

Ecotourism Australia certified operators took home a third of all awards at the 2014 Qantas Australian Tourism Awards, presented at a Gala dinner in Adelaide last week.

The Qantas Australian Tourism Awards celebrate the epitome of excellence in the Australian tourism industry. A broad and diverse range of tourism businesses enter their state and territory Tourism Awards, the winners of which progress through the National Awards as finalists.

This year, Ecotourism Australia proudly sponsored the Ecotourism category, and we were pleased to see that all finalists in the Ecotourism category were ECO certified. Further more, over 40% of all eligible finalists across all categories were ECO certified! The National awards are a clear demonstration of the high calibre of operators choosing Ecotourism Australia and joining a network committed to sustainable best practice and premium quality experiences.

Ecotourism Australia certified operators won a total of eight Gold awards, ten Silver and seven Bronze, including all awards across the following categories:

  • Major Tour & Transport Operators
  • Adventure Tourism
  • Ecotourism
  • Tourist Attractions
  • Australian Tourism Legend

Also to be commended are Advanced Ecotourism certified Pennicott Wilderness Journeys. They took home two Gold awards for their product Bruny Island Cruises in the Ecotourism and Tourist Attraction categories, Gold for their product Tasmanian Seafood Seduction, the prestigious Qantas Award for Excellence in Sustainable Tourism, and saw Robert Pennicott named an Australian Tourism Legend!

“In an age where quality is king, customers are increasingly choosing credible and authentic operators that can demonstrate their sustainability and commitment to high quality experiences. The sheer number of ECO certified operators recognised at these awards is a clear indication of this trend to quality” says Rod Hillman, Chief Executive.

We would like to congratulate and commend all of our certified operators for their phenomenal achievements in this years’ Awards program. Here is a full list of our certified award winners:

Qantas Award for Excellence in Sustainable Tourism: Pennicott Wilderness Journeys (Advanced Ecotourism)

Australian Tourism Legend: Robert Pennicott (Pictured)

Major Tourist Attractions
Silver: Taronga Zoo (Advanced Ecotourism)

Tourist Attractions
Gold: Bruny Island Cruises (Advanced Ecotourism)
Silver: Taronga Western Plains Zoo (Advanced Ecotourism)
Bronze: Capricorn Caves (Advanced Ecotourism)

Ecotourism
Gold: Bruny Island Cruises (Advanced Ecotourism)
Silver: Out of Sight Tours (Advanced Ecotourism & Climate Action Business)
Bronze: Life’s An Adventure – Blue Mountains Products (Ecotourism)

Heritage & Cultural Tourism
Silver: Venture North Australia (Advanced Ecotourism & Respecting Our Culture)

Indigenous Tourism 
Silver: Tri State Safaris/Mutawintji Eco Tours (Advanced Ecotourism & Climate Action Leader)
Bronze: Mossman Gorge Centre (Ecotourism and Respecting Our Culture)

Major Tour & Transport Operators
Gold: Par Avion Wilderness Tours (Nature Tourism)
Silver: SeaLink Ferries, Tours & Holiday Packages (Advanced Ecotourism & Climate Action Business)
Bronze: Cruise Whitsundays (Advanced Ecotourism)

Tour & Transport Operators
Silver: Fun Over Fifty Pty Ltd (Advanced Ecotourism, Ecotoruism & Climate Action Leader)
Bronze: Life’s An Adventure – Blue Mountains Products (Ecotourism)

Adventure Tourism
Gold: Enchanted Adventure Garden & Tree Surfing (Ecotourism)
Silver: Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours (Advanced Ecotourism & Climate Action Leader)
Bronze: Life’s An Adventure – Blue Mountains Products (Ecotourism)

Unique Accommodation
Silver: Rawnsley Park Station Eco Villas (Advanced Ecotourism & Climate Action Business)
Bronze: Taronga Western Plains Zoo (Advanced Ecotourism)

Deluxe Accommodation
Gold: Yondah Beach House (Ecotourism)

New Tourism Development
Gold: Tasmanian Seafood Seduction (Advanced Ecotourism)
Silver: The Frames (Nature Tourism)

To see the complete list of award winners, please click here.

Tri State Safaris help bring a brighter future for Vinaka Fiji

Towards the end of last year, Advanced Ecotourism and Climate Action certified Tri State Safaris started a campaign to collect second-hand eye glasses to donate to local people of the Yasawa Island of Fiji. Over the past five months, they have collected over 60 pairs of specs and handed over their first donation to Vinaka Fiji.

tristate fiji

Almost five months have passed since the couple decided to help. In a recent newsletter, Tri State Safaris reported about their achievements and thanked participants. They have managed to collect more than 60 pair of glasses, with numbers constantly growing. In February, owners Mick and Joanna met up with Elle, a representative of Vinaka Fijii, and handed over their first donations (pictured). Elle was positively overwhelmed by the generosity of Tri State Safaris and their extended community.

Tri State Safaris was established in 1992, running tours from Broken Hill to Broome. Owners, Mick and Joanne McCulkin, created the company out of the passion to share Australia’s Outback experience with like-minded adventurers. Whenever the couple is not busy with work, they enjoy travelling to Fiji’s Western Division, including Yasawa Island. It was during these trips that they came to realise a problem all too commonly encountered by locals; many had poor eye-sight and were unable to afford glasses.

Vinaka Fijii is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to improve the quality of life for people living in poverty. As part of the project, Vinaka Fiji agreed to fix, clean and fairly distribute glasses to Fijians in need.

In their newsletter Tri State Safaris claims that their mission is not over yet and they will continue to collect glasses throughout this year.

If you have any old reading glasses, prescription glasses or sunglasses, don’t leave them to collect dust. Help change a life and take the time to send them to Tri State Safaris at P.O. Box 867, Broken Hill, NSW, 2880.

Jungle Adventures Cape Tribulation introduce the human hamster wheel!

Advanced Ecotourism and Climate Action Leader certified operator, Jungle Adventures Cape Tribulation (also known as Jungle Surfing), have opened to the public the world’s first “Human Hamster Wheel” interactive cable lift as part of their Jungle Surfing Canopy Tour. The innovative and sustainable cable lift acts as a treadmill, using man-power to winch guests into the treetops for their Jungle Surfing adventure.

With no mainland electricity supply and a UNESCO World Heritage Site to preserve, the team at Jungle Surfing had to get creative and think outside of the box for a minimal impact solution for transferring their surfers skyward. It was over a light-hearted discussion in the staff hut that the concept of a Human Hamster Wheel was born.

“We’re extremely proud of the wheel which utilises customer power to introduce the concept of alternative/sustainable energy production as part of our tour experience. We think it’s pretty innovative, as do our customers” says Managing Director, Sheena Walshaw.

Jungle Surfing is situated in the pristine Daintree Rainforest at Cape Tribulation, 2 and a half hours North of Cairns. The Queensland Tourism Award-winning Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours take guests on a unique rainforest tour through the treetops using a series of flying fox ziplines. Surfers stop at five different tree platforms to soak up spectacular birds-eye views of the rainforest, cascading streams, and the Great Barrier Reef shoreline.

Jungle Surfing has a stong commitment to sustainable best practice, with the ultimate aim of becoming a carbon neutral tourism destination. Their mission is to be a benchmark and inspiration for their community and other tourism businesses in wilderness locations, and their goal is to protect and promote the pristine natural environment surrounding them through the provision of unique, adventurous and educational activities with sustainable operations and minimal environmental footprint.

They can’t promise you a cube of cheese for your efforts, but they can deliver epic views of a Jurassic world perched on the shoreline of the Great Barrier Reef. The team at Ecotourism Australia love what they’re about!

Visit the website: Jungle Surfing.

Learn more about the Human Hamster Wheel.

Congratulations to Flyboard Cairns

Congratulations to Flyboard Cairns for achieving Advanced Ecotourism certification for their innovative Flyboard Experience, Charters and Special Events.

Flyboarding is an exciting and innovative new water sport that uses pressurized water to power a wake board like device to enable the flyer to dive through the water, hover above its surface and perform all manner of tricks and stunts. Customers can come and experience the Flyboard water jet devices with Chris and Luke offering one-on-one instruction and personal attention. Flyboard Cairns has a variety of packages suited to individuals or small to medium groups.

Flyboard Cairns have also become sponsors of Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre patient, ‘Barbarella’. She is an Olive Ridley Turtle who was found trapped in Ghost nets up in Cape York and transported to the Centre with the assistance of Pennefather Rangers and Qantas Link. Marlin Coast Vet Hospital treated Barbarella and were able to save her life by amputating a flipper. She has received ongoing treatment for the deep hole in her top shell but has been recovering well with a healthy appetite. Sponsorship of a patient assists the centre to meet the cost of her food while she continues her rehabilitation with the care provided by Jennie Gilbert and the dedicated team of volunteers at Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. Check out the turtle rehabs Facebook and Website to see how you can get involved at the centre too.

To find out more about Flyboard Cairns, click here.

To find out more about Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation, click here.

(Photos Courtesy Christian Miller)