Congratulations To Ocean Park Aquarium

Congratulations to Ocean Park Aquarium for achieving Ecotourism certification for their Aquarium Tours and 4WD Adventure Tours.

Ocean Park is an award-winning, Eco-friendly aquarium located on the shores of the Shark Bay Marine Park in Western Australia. Guests may explore the wonders of the marine park with a marine scientist on a fun, highly educational guided tour of the aquarium. In the company of a marine scientists, guests are guaranteed a fun and highly educational experience, as they watch shark feeding, meet rescued sea turtles, and see venomous sea snakes and stonefish. Alternatively, guests can take a 4WD tour exploring the rugged terrain of the World Heritage listed Shark Bay, Steep Point, and Francois Person National Park on a fully guided eco tour.

Ocean Park Aquarium has a comprehensive Environmental Policy to ensure they operate in the most sustainable way possible. The Ocean Park is powered by one of the largest private solar installations in Western Australia, generating 273 kilowatt hours each day. The installation powers the parks lighting and pump systems, as well as a reverse osmosis desalination unit for generating fresh water. The educational guided tours of Ocean Park Aquarium engage the public in sustainable thinking by promoting ecosystem understanding. They also look out for the environment in which they operate by contributing to the conservation objectives of the Shark Bay World Heritage Area, Shark Bay Marine Park, Francois Peron National Park and Edel Land. The Ocean Park is also a rehabilitation centre for injured marine reptiles, working with the WA Department of Parks and Wildlife to care for injured marine life and release them back into the wild.

To find out more about Ocean Park Aquarium, please visit their website.

New Species Of Gecko Discovered At Cobbold Gorge

Newly Advanced Ecotourism certified operator, Cobbold Gorge Tours, has recently made the news as two new species of gecko have been discovered in the Cobbold Gorge Nature Refuge. The two new species were discovered in May by scientists from Australian National University (ANU), who work collaboratively with Cobbold Gorge Tours to classify and register fauna in the area.

Gaye Bourke from ANU’s Research School of Biology says the recent discovery has been an exciting find, as the two new species are genetically distinctive, “The genetic data indicates that the geckos from this area are distinct from the common and widespread group of striped geckos they resemble, but there are differences in scales and colour patterns” she said.

“The individuals from this region are strikingly different genetically… We are still working on the physical examination of the genetically distinct geckos and hope to name and publish full descriptions of these groups as new species in coming months.”

The find is also a positive indication that there may be more unidentified species to find in Far North Queensland, and brings greater understanding of the biodiversity of the Gorge. The remote Jurassic, sandstone gorge environment provides an ideal habitat for geckos, the recesses in the sandstone providing refuge from the elements.

Bourke also noted, “Understanding the biodiversity of an area can also assist in land management.”

Working collaboratively with Universities, National Parks and Government Agencies can be a great way for tourism operators to become involved with research projects and conservation efforts for the environment in which they operate, and a great opportunity to work together toward sustainable management of our valuable ecosystems.

Cobbold Gorge is situated deep in the heart of the Gulf Savannah region of Far North Queensland, only a six hour drive from Cairns and Townsville. Cobbold Village offers all of your modern comforts, as well as modern ensuite cabin accommodation, and RV and caravan friendly camping facilities. Cobbold Gorge Tours provides guests the opportunity to explore the unique environment and Nature Refuge, which boasts a spectacular landscape, and North Queensland wildlife and birdwatching, for the ultimate Outback Queensland experience.

Read more about the discovery of the two new species of gecko here.

Find out more about Cobbold Gorge Tours’ ECO certification here and visit their website here.

Cobbold Gorge Tours Achieve Advanced Ecotourism Certification

Congratulations to Cobbold Gorge Tours for achieving Advanced Ecotourism certification for their tour products and accommodation.

Cobbold Gorge tours has achieved Advanced Ecotourism certification for:

  • Cobbold Gorge Tour
  • The Ultimate Outback Adventure Tour
  • Robin Hood Cattle Station Experience
  • Cobbold Gorge Village (Accommodation)

Cobbold Gorge is situated deep in the heart of the Gulf Savannah region of Far North Queensland, only a six hour drive from Cairns and Townsville. Cobbold Village offers all of your modern comforts, as well as modern en suite cabin accommodation, and RV and caravan friendly camping facilities, while the unique environment boasts a spectacular landscape, North Queensland wildlife and birdwatching, for the ultimate Outback Queensland experience.

The protected Cobbold Gorge area is accessible only by guided tour. Cobbold Gorge Tours take guests to explore the ancient geological landforms on their awe-inspiring and educational, guided tours of the vast sandstone gorge. Then to ice the cake of your outback experience, the Robin Hood Cattle Station Experience offers a rare opportunity to experience life on a working cattle station! Cobbold Gorge is an ideal weekender destination for the whole family to enjoy.

In the establishment of Cobbold Gorge Tours the main criterion was, and is to this day, that the operation is conducted with minimum impact on the environment. In line with this commitment, they conduct their business in accordance to an outstanding and strict Environmental Policy. The 4720 hectare Cobbold Gorge Nature Refuge was established in 2009 through a voluntary, formal agreement with the Queensland Government. The agreement acknowledges a commitment to manage and preserve the land, which holds significant conservation and cultural values, while allowing them compatible and sustainable land uses to operate their business. Cobbold Gorge Tours is also an accredited Savannah Guides Station, whereby accredited guides foster ecologically sustainable, interpretive tourism and demonstrate high standards of operation. They also work in collaboration with Australian National University to classify and register fauna in the Cobbold Gorge Nature Refuge, which has lead to the discovery of a previously unidentified species of velvet tailed gecko which is to be named in honour of Cobbold Gorge. Through these efforts, their Advanced Ecotourism certification has been well-deserved.

To find out more about Cobbold Gorge Tours, please visit their website.

Image: Cobbold Gorge Staff proudly showing off their Advanced Ecotourism certificate

Ecotourism Australia Certified Businesses Reach $1.11B P/Year

EA Logo Hi Res

Last year Ecotourism Australia’s certified businesses combined annual revenue reached over a billion dollars for the first time. This year the total has reached $1.11B!

“This huge result demonstrates the resilience and growth potential of tour operators who focus on delivering quality products” said Rod Hillman, CEO of Ecotourism Australia. “The Ecotourism industry in Australia is making huge strides forward with a 6% growth in revenue over the past year”

  • The combined annual revenue of Ecotourism Australia’s certified operators rose by 6% in 2014/15 to $1.11B.
  • Using the Tourism Research Australia (TRA) multiplier of 1.9 shows the financial contribution of Ecotourism Australia’s certified operators in 2014/15 is $2.12B.
  • Victoria has shown the highest individual State increase with a staggering 23% growth in combined revenue during 2014/15 with the certified operators contributing revenue of nearly $160M for the year.
  • Queensland remains the engine room of ecotourism in Australia with a 7% increase in 2014/15 and a combined revenue of over $560M pouring into their economy from the hard work of their Ecotourism Australia certified operators.
  • NSW added solid growth of 14% generating close to $135M to their economy.
  • WA is steady in its contribution of $112M.
  • SA, Tasmania and NT struggled in a tough year with small reductions but still contributed over $150M to their economies.

“Australia’s ecotourism operators have focused on quality and yield” said Rod Hillman, CEO Ecotourism Australia, “This has been demonstrated by Ecotourism Australia’s certified operators making up 40% of the finalists at the 2014 Tourism Awards, a third of all winners at the awards and 20% of all sellers at the 2015 Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE). Not a bad effort by a group of 500 hundred of Australia’s best tour operators!”

The vast majority of ecotourism operators are based in regional centres creating sustainable jobs, development and a sense of pride within the community. Each and every Ecotourism Australia certified operator has committed to delivering quality tourism products, running a sustainable business and making direct contributions to the environment they work in and the community they live in.

Over a quarter of Ecotourism Australia’s certified operators have been certified continuously for longer than ten years, many fifteen years and more, clearly demonstrating the sustainability of our industry and the value they place in Ecotourism Australia’s certification.

ENDS

Rod Hillman – 0427 279 414

ECOTOURISM AUSTRALIA
T: +61 7 3252 1530 | F: +61 7 3257 0331 | E: eco@ecotourism.org.au
Office: 6/67 O’Connell Terrace, Bowen Hills QLD 4006
www.ecotourism.org.au

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.

Audits Planned For NSW, QLD, NT And TAS Between March And June

We’re excited to announce that as part of Ecotourism Australia’s partnership with Conservation Volunteers (CV), on-site audits of ECO certified operators will be conducted across New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland and Tasmania between the months of March and June. This follows successful audits conducted on Victorian operators under the partnership over the December/January period.

On-site audits every three years are a core requirement of the ECO Certification Program, necessary to ensure compliance to our standards. The audits also provide the perfect opportunity for operators to speak with an environmental specialist, seek advice and feedback on current or planned initiatives, and showcase their hard work. Through EA’s partnership with CV, we hope to eliminate any negativity attached to auditing. The audit process is designed to be a supportive, constructive and communicative process helping operators to improve, not to merely seek out flaws or inadequacies.

Operators subject to audit are given 21 days’ notice, and on the day the audit process usually takes around three hours. As well as inspecting accommodations, facilities and tour vehicles or vessels, auditors review the documents that an operator in required to submit for their application to ensure they have been kept up-to-date. These plans include; business, marketing and operational management plans, environmental management and interpretation plans. Audits are also an opportunity for operators to upgrade to a higher level of certification if they have introduced new initiatives since they achieved certification.

We are looking forward to hearing more about our certified businesses and their operations, learning about new initiatives that may have been introduced, and further supporting our members commitment to strong environmental and ecotourism principals.

 To find out more about Ecotourism Australia and Conservation Volunteer’s partnership and audit program, please contact the EA office. 

Skytrek Willow Springs Station Achieve Nature Tourism Certification

Nature Tourism CertifiedCongratulations to Skytrek Willow Springs Station for achieving Nature Tourism certification!

Willow Springs Station is a typical working sheep station in the Flinders Ranges that offers true bush hospitality and quiet, secluded settings. They offer private and comfortable accommodation for small or large groups, and bush campsites with amenities. In addition to their accommodation offering, Willow Springs also offer 4WDing on the popular Skytrek, Guided 4WD tours on and off the property, and marked walking trails.

The Reynolds family have been operating the Station, and now the ecotourism destination, since the mid-1900’s. They strive to educate their guests on sustainability, and encourage them to reduce their carbon footprint, while offering a unique and genuine bush experience. The Reynolds family also work closely with the Ecosystems Management Understanding Program (EMU), a South Australian initiative to gain greater awareness of ecosystem components and linkages, and take a holistic approach to property management beyond the property boundary, that is improving production, environmental and social outcomes. Check out the video below, which highlights their efforts with the EMU program.

Find out more about Skytrek Willow Springs Station here.

Find out more about ECO certification here.