Green Spot.Travel Discovers Tropical North Queensland

Owner and Founder of Green Spot.Travel, Richard G Edwards visited Tropical North Queensland in October, while attending the Global Eco Asia Pacific Conference in Cairns.

During his visit, Edwards visited and experienced Advanced Ecotourism Certified operators.

Discussing his experience, Edwards says ‘The reef was spectacular, and the whole visit was top-notch, with world-class Eco Lodges that can stand next to anybody and all the tour providers are great’. He also expressed his thoughts on the potential of incorporating Indigenous tourism, ‘I feel there is huge opportunity to better integrate indigenous history and culture throughout every product I experienced’.

During his trip to Tropical North Queensland, Edwards created a video on his experience with ECO Certified operators which can be viewed here.

Richard G. Edwards has had wide-ranging career in the adventure travel industry and his work as the founding Executive Director of the Trusted Adventures consortium allowed him to assist a host of pioneering adventure companies on their marketing, positioning and branding efforts. Edwards was a key note speaker at the Global Eco Asia Pacific Conference, in October discussing Product Development IS Marketing: getting rewarded for innovation.

For more information on Ecotourism Australia’s Certified Operators please visit our website.

For more information on the Global Eco Asia Pacific Conference please visit the website.

2012 Global Eco Conference Wrap

The 2012 Global Eco Asia Pacific Conference held in Cairns from 15 to 17 October was a great success, with a significant  group of tourism operators, industry leaders and keynote speakers from all around the world.

The 2012 conference was an opportunity to bring together leading players from across the globe and examine the best practices across Sustainability, Ecotourism, Cultural and Heritage Tourism, Tourism in Protected Areas and Climate Change Response.

The conference opened with a Welcome to Country from Henrietta Marrie, Gimuy Wallubarra Yidinji people of Cairns. The greatly anticipated Bruce Poon Tip followed soon after and discussed the Social Revolution and explained that many tourism businesses build amazing tourism products but don’t really know how to sell them and that  ‘The skill is in the selling’. Bruce also explained that people will choose a sustainable product over the same product if all things are equal. He went on to discuss how we as an industry can get consumers to pay a premium for sustainable products.

Day one concluded with an Asia Pacific Forum, followed by industry leaders sharing their experiences and success stories in Ecotourism within Australia.

The second day opened with David Wilks from the department of conservation New Zealand discussing the issues our neighbours are facing and how they are overcoming these through conservation and ecotourism. A moving case study from Cambodia was given from Kristin Holdø Hansen discussing a hotel mentoring program that was created with an aim to empower locals. Richard Edwards from discussed the importance of product development and sharing ‘our story’ for tourism operators around the globe. Edwards suggests that consumers don’t want to know what you do in terms of sustainability, they want to see it incorporated into who you are.

The three concurrent theme stream sessions; Sustainable Destination Management  Communities Benefiting from Strategic Partnerships and Tourism in Terrestrial and Marine Protected Areas provided greater insight into these key issues in Australian tourism.

The third and final day of the conference began with the Indigenous Tourism Forum with keynote speakers sharing the importance of long term engagement with communities in order to create new opportunities for Traditional Owners as well as  protecting the environment from visitor impacts.

The four concurrent theme streams for the day were; Indigenous & Cultural Tourism, Optimising Tropical Ecotourism, Marketing Eco Wonders and Tourism in Terrestrial & Marine Protected Areas, with both Australian and international speakers sharing their experiences and innovative ideas that have led to change and success.

The final session began with the Asia-Pacific Tourism Forum and concluded with the Tourism and Protected Area Forum (TAPAF) Leaders Panel debating Quality vs Quantity and Value vs Volume: What is the role of Ecotourism in leading a change in the Australian tourism model? It was argued that the industry needs to consider quality with quantity and value with volume.

The Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games the Hon. Jan Stuckey MP gave the closing address and expressed the importance of tourism and in particular ecotourism in building a strong four pillar economy in Queensland.

Cameron Kerr, the Chair of Ecotourism Australia closed the conference by thanking the keynote speakers over the three days and was enthused to see so many people leave with new and inspired ideas to establish innovative goals for 2013.

For more information on the Global Eco Asia Pacific Conference program and keynote speakers please visit the website.

North Australian Tourism Operators Take Out Ecotourism Honours

North Queensland and the Northern Territory have emerged winners at this year’s Ecotourism Australia GECKO Awards announced in Cairns at the 2012 Global ECO Asia Pacific Tourism Conference.

North Queensland tourism operators Daintree Discovery Centre and Low Isles Sailaway have won the Ecotourism Award and Climate Action Award respectively, while John Rumney owner of Eye to Eye Marine Encounters has been awarded the prestigious Ecotourism Medal of Individual Excellence.

Northern Territory’s Far Out Adventures has won the Indigenous Tourism Award  and Mike Keighley, owner of Far Out Adventures has won the EcoGuide Award of Excellence for the third year in a row.

Professor Ross Dowling, Chair of the GECKO Award Judging Panel and Director of Ecotourism Australia said “We were overwhelmed by both the quantity and quality the award submissions and the Judging Panel had a really tough job deciding the winners this year!”

The 2012 Ecotourism Australia GECKO Award winners are:

Climate Action Award sponsored by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

Winner: Low Isles Sailaway, Queensland

Low Isles Sailaway is family owned and operated by Steve and Katrina Edmondson, who take an active role across all elements of the business from skippering the vessel to international marketing. This close operational involvement and passion for the Great Barrier Reef’s long-term conservation have enabled Low Isles Sailaway as a business to achieve best environmental practice and to be proactive in the development of climate change action emission reduction innovation and the provision of reef friendly offsets to deliver a carbon neutral tourism product.

Indigenous Tourism Award sponsored by Gumala Aboriginal Corporation

Winner: Far Out Adventures, Northern Territory

Far Out Adventures began in 1994, when the Mangarrayi Aboriginal people on Elsey Station invited Mike Keighley to bring tourists into their one million acre property on the Roper River, Northern Territory.  They explored the location and saw potential to run tours with the Aboriginal people. They see their role is to interpret and facilitate enjoyable learning experiences. Over a period of days this impresses on guests the sensitive nature of these environments, the Aboriginal culture and the need to maintain these experiences for future generations.

EcoGuide Award of Excellence sponsored by AVANA

Winner:  Mike Keighley

Mike started guiding in Katherine seventeen years ago. His focus is on Wildlife, Ecosystems and Aboriginal culture.  Mike is motivated by the outcomes from guiding – the gratitude expressed as fellow humans learn of new ways to care for the earth – along with opportunities to breakdown racial barriers often formed by ignorance. Mike sees is role as guide is to safely facilitate these experiences so guests can look at country and its people with heightened respect and empathy.

This is the 3rd year in a row that Mike has won this award

Highly Commended: Michael McCulkin, New South Wales

Ecotourism Award sponsored by Tourism NT

Winner:  Daintree Discovery Centre, Queensland

The Daintree Discovery Centre is a multi-award winning environmentalinterpretive facility that allows people of all ages to learn about, explore and help conserveone of the few unspoilt pockets of lowland rainforest left in Australia – the Daintree. It welcomes 85,000 visitors per annum and manages to do so without causing damage to this world heritage icon.  Opened in 1989 the site was chosen for its extraordinary biological diversity. The Centre was especially designed to protect theecological integrity and preserve the cultural heritage of this pristine environment.  Daintree Discovery Centre is helping visitors to understand climate change impacts and how to better manage protected areas.

Highly Commended: Dolphin Discovery Centre, Western Australia and Phillip Island Nature Park, Victoria

2012 Ecotourism Medal for Individual Excellence

About the award: This award recognises the extraordinary personal and professional achievement and contribution by an individual over many years to the Australian tourism industry. Judges consider in particular the activities and contribution of the nominee outside the expectations of normal employment.

Winner: John Rumney

With over 30 years of experience as a marine tourism operator, research coordinator, professional skipper and adventure diver, John Rumney has a vast knowledge of the reef and its inhabitants. He has consulted for international panels on Climate Change and participated in conservation movements around the world. One of the earliest advocates for ecotourism, John has spent the last 20 years promoting sustainable practices through education, research partnerships and conservation initiatives.

John operates Eye to Eye Marine Encounters out of Port Douglas. This marine tourism company aims to be continually funded and profitable through tourism, marine science and documentary revenue and support significant marine science, conservation management and climate change mitigation.   Through this unique business model, guests gain a deeper personal interaction and understanding of the natural world and are inspired to protect it. Marine research and conservation projects that John has coordinated include the internationally renowned Minke Whale Project, Osprey Reef shark and nautilus tagging expeditions and innovative tiger shark and turtle research in the waters of the Far Northern Great Barrier Reef (around Raine Island).

For more information contact: Kym Cheatham Chief Executive Officer Ecotourism Australia at or 0407019685

The Ecotourism Australia vision:: “To be leaders in assisting ecotourism and other committed tourism operations to become environmentally sustainable, economically viable, and socially and culturally responsible”.

The Global Eco Asia Pacific Ecotourism conference is Ecotourism Australia’s annually conference attracting an impressive line up of world renown international and Australian speakers.  A full conference program is available at

Ecotourism Australia was formed in 1991 as an incorporated non-profit organisation, and is the peak national body for the ecotourism industry.  Ecotourism Australia aims to grow and promote ecotourism and to assist tourism operators to become environmentally sustainable, economically viable and socially and culturally responsible. 

Membership includes tour operators, ecotourism accommodation, tourism planners, protected area managers, academics and students, regional tourism associations and travellers.

Ecotourism Australia’s certification program is a world first. It provides objective monitoring and auditing of organisations’ ecotourism claims and provides travel agents and tourists with an assurance of best practice ecological sustainability, natural area management and quality ecotourism experiences

In 2008, Ecotourism Australia was awarded the prestigious World Travel and Tourism Council “Tourism for Tomorrow” Award for Conservation at the World Tourism Summit in recognition of Ecotourism Australia’s significant contribution to the conservation and preservation of natural heritage.


Australia should focus on developing a more profitable tourism industry based on attracting high-value visitors with high quality, truly sustainable experiences rather than an endless pursuit for growth in visitor numbers, according to Kym Cheatham, Chief Executive of Ecotourism Australia.

“It is time to reinvent Australian tourism, rather than rehash the reasons for the protracted downturn we are stuck in,” said Ms Cheatham ahead of the Global Eco Asia Pacific ecotourism conference in Cairns, 15-17 October.

“The endless pursuit of growth in numbers is a hollow ambition, with mass tourism bringing profitless volume.

“High quality experiences founded on financially viable, environmentally sustainable and culturally responsible tourism products offers an alternative course.

“What we are doing is not working and many smaller regional tourism operators and communities need us to come up with a more successful and viable paradigm,” said Ms Cheatham.

Ms Cheatham points to the burgeoning ecotourism industry across the Asia Pacific region, which is being embraced by governments and industry, as evidence of the opportunities.

“Ecotourism is front and centre for countries including Malaysia, Cambodia, Korea, Vietnam and Indonesia.

“Australia is one of the most desired landscapes in the world, with unique native flora and fauna and an indigenous culture that resonates with visitors from around the globe,” said Ms Cheatham.

“I think we can take inspiration from South Africa which doesn’t apologise for the cost involved in high quality safaris. It’s about focussing on the experiences that are unrivalled that people will travel for at any cost.

“The opportunity to reframe Australia tourism is beckoning.”

The Global Eco Asia Pacific Ecotourism conference will address a wide agenda, looking at best practice, development opportunities and innovation with a line up of international and Australian speakers.

A full conference program is available at


For more information contact: Kym Cheatham 0427 279 414

Michelle Farquhar, Media & Communications 0432 334 994

Global Eco Conference – Call for Papers Deadline Extended to 4th June 2012

Call for Papers – Deadline Extended

Due to popular demand, the deadline to offer a paper for the 2012 Global Eco Asia-Pacific Tourism Conference has been extended by one extra week.

If you would like to be considered for a speaking opportunity in the Global Eco Conference program, then please submit your presentation outline online by 5pm, MONDAY 4th JUNE.

You are invited to offer a presentation for one of the following theme stream sessions:

  • Sustainable Destination Management
  • Marketing Eco Wonders
  • Tourism in Terrestrial and Marine Protected Areas
  • Indigenous and Cultural Tourism
  • Communities Benefiting from Strategic Partnerships
  • Optimising Tropical Ecotourism

In recognition of your contribution to the program, speakers will receive a 25% discount off conference registration. This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase your latest ecotourism projects and initiatives to leaders in the industry.

The Global Eco Asia Pacific Conference takes place in Cairns, Australia from 15 to 17 October 2012.