Industry Pioneer to Head Ecotourism Australia

Ecotourism Australia is proud to announce the appointment of Rod Hillman as Chief Executive Officer, commencing February 2013.

The Chair of Ecotourism Australia, Cameron Kerr said “Rod Hillman brings a great depth of experience across industry and government to the organisation and the ecotourism industry.”

“Rod is a pioneer of the adventure and ecotourism industry in this country.   He has seen the industry from all sides and played an important part in the development of ecotourism, from its formative years through to the substantial industry it is today.”

Nature based tourism is the number one motivator for international and domestic travelers to travel in Australia according to Tourism Australia research while the United Nations World Tourism Organisation is predicting ecotourism demand to grow at 3 to 4 times more than the demand for tourism in general.

Rod Hillman began his career with Top Deck Travel in the 1980’s,  leading tours  throughout  Asia and Europe, then with his own company Therion Adventures in Africa.

He  later headed the tours division and interpretive ranger program at the award winning eco-resort, Kingfisher Bay Resort, before taking up the role of General Manager Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk – another multi  award winning eco attraction.

Rod made the full transition into protected area management, taking up management roles at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve in Canberra and the Parks department of the ACT government.

More recently Rod was the CEO of the Kokoda Track Authority. He achieved the goal of rebuilding the organisation using local staff and setting it up for long term sustainability. On his return to Australia, Rod worked with the Australian government assisting the growth of tourism in developing countries,  World Heritage matters and capacity building within the Asia Pacific.

“I look forward to working with the ecotourism operators, members and the Board, to continue the Australian ecotourism industry’s leadership in bringing sustainable high quality and engaging experiences to visitors”,  Rod Hillman said.  “I’m proud to be joining Ecotourism Australia who for the past 22 years has led the way in improving the quality of tourism through certification, marketing, training and in providing a strong industry voice in policy making and advocacy.”

Rod will relocate to the National office of Ecotourism Australia in Brisbane where he will guide policy, advocacy and key programs such as Eco Certification, Respecting Our Culture and Climate Action Certification.

Ecotourism Australia Chair, Cameron Kerr said, “The Ecotourism Australia Board would like to thank outgoing CEO Kym Cheatham, who oversaw strong growth in certification and new product development despite a particularly difficult economic climate for the tourism industry. We wish her well with her PhD as she continues her contribution to the ecotourism industry.”


Media comment Cameron Kerr, Chair, Ecotourism Australia

Contact: +61 2 9978 4665

ROC and Climate Action Business Certifications for Daintree River Cruise Centre

Green Travel Leader Daintree River Cruise Centre has achieved ROC Certification and Climate Action Business Certification.


Already Advanced Ecotourism certified, the business is one of the oldest operators present on the Daintree River. Located on the banks of the river where the mangroves merge with the rainforest, Daintree River Cruise Centre offers guests informational cruises to learn about the local eco system.

ROC Logo

Conducted by well-informed naturalists and biologists, their tours are also an opportunity to spot Estuarine crocodiles, frogs, pythons, tree snakes and other wildlife. Daintree River Cruise Centre is strongly involved in the protection of mangroves and has increased their environmental and cultural commitment by becoming Climate Action Business and ROC certified.

For more information about becoming Climate Action certified, visit our website.

For more information about becoming ROC certified, visit our website.

For more information about Daintree River Cruise Centre or to make a booking, visit their website.

Longhorn YOUnique Tours Achieve ROC certified

Ecotourism certified Longhorn YOUnique Tours has recently successfully completed its ROC certification.

ROC LogoThe family run business takes guests to many of Victoria’s highlight spots often missed by other tours, offering luxury comfortable trips for small groups. Guests still get to visit some of the most famous and beautiful popular places such as the Twelve Apostles, Phillip Island and the Grampians National Park.

DSC00312Longhorn YOUnique Tours
firmly believe in minimal impact touring to preserve the environment for future generations and have been fostering respect for Australia’s Indigenous culture. Now ROC certified, they are committed to providing their guests with a better understanding of the first Australians.

For information on becoming ROC certified, please visit our website.

For information about Longhorn YOUnique Tours or to make a booking, please visit their website.

Eco Lodges of Australia Launched to Chinese Market

Eco Lodges of Australia have been launched in China after completing Welcome China training organised by AVANA, Ecotourism Australia and Spirit of China over the past year.

The launch event in Shanghai was supported with a series of meetings with key trade and Shanghai based representatives of the Australian government tourism bodies.

“We are extremely excited by the opportunities in China for the members of Eco Lodges of Australia and the wider Australian ecotourism industry.” said Kym Cheatham CEO of Ecotourism Australia. “There is clearly a market for Australian ecotourism product in China, and it is not the homogenous ‘shopping tour market’ that many think it is.”

Eco Lodges of Australia Launched in China

“We met with wholesalers who were selling similar and comparable experiences in other destinations.” Kym Cheatham said. “We have started a number of relationships with the trade and media in China and we will continue to work with them to seek opportunities initially for the members of Eco Lodges of Australia, but more broadly for the rest of the Australian ecotourism industry.”

The Welcome China training has developed through a partnership which was formed two years ago between Ecotourism Australia, AVANA and Spirit of China with the goal of connecting the Australian ecotourism industry with Chinese travel agents and tourism consumers.

In August 2011, the project was awarded T-QUAL funding from the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism to develop a China Ready training program pilot for the members of Eco Lodges of Australia.

The success of the project has come from the research conducted in both Australia and China, which substantially informed the training content to ensure the Eco Lodges of Australia were provided with current information on the needs and desires of the Chinese traveller which will help them refine and develop their product to meet the needs to the Chinese market.

All members of Eco Lodges of Australia carry Advanced Ecotourism Certification and offer the ECO conscious traveller responsible, ethical and sustainable ECO experiences in Australia’s most amazing natural locations.  Eco Lodges of Australia website now carries Chinese targeted information.

To find out more about Eco Lodges of Australia and the Welcome China training, please contact Kym Cheatham on

Ecotourism Australia Welcomes Queensland Government Committment to Grow Ecotourism

Ecotourism Australia has welcomed the announcement by Queensland National Parks Minister Steve Dickson that amendments to the state’s nature conservation laws will grow ecotourism and cut red tape for Queensland ecotourism operators.

“Queensland ecotourism operators have told us that the regulatory burden in Queensland has been a major impediment to their capacity to expand their businesses ” said Kym Cheatham CEO of Ecotourism Australia.  “Given the state of the tourism industry, any assistance to high quality ecotourism operators is welcomed.”

Mr Dickson said changes to the Nature Conservation Act 1992, the Forestry Act 1959 and the Brisbane Forest Park Act 1977 would increase access and streamline unnecessary and costly regulations currently choking Queensland’s national parks.

“We also welcome the potential to grow to Queensland’s ecotourism reputation though providing access and business opportunities to high quality eco accredited tourism businesses.” Ms Cheatham said.

“Key for Ecotourism Australia would be assurances that any new tourism opportunities in national parks are only provided to tourism operators that can demonstrate the highest levels of environmental sustainability and an ongoing committment to conservation and preservation of the environment in which they operate.”

Queensland can currently boasts nearly a third of all Ecotourism Australia’s certified operators.

For more information on the Queensland National Parks Minister announcement, go to:

The Ecotourism Australia vision: “To inspire environmentally responsible and culturally sustainable tourism”.

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.

Ecotourism Australia’s ECO certification program was 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.

Ecotourism Australia has since added ROC (Respect Our Culture) Certification for Indigenous Tourism operators and Climate Action Australia Certification to help the tourism industry work towards a more sustainable future.

Both ECO and ROC programs have been recognised by the Australian Government under the National Tourism Accreditation Framework of meeting the standards to carry the TQUAL trademark indicating tourism quality.  For more information go to:

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

Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort boosts solar power to protect the Great Barrier Reef

Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort is one of three island resorts on the Great Barrier Reef.The resort owner Peter Gash set new benchmarks for sustainable tourism in the Great Barrier Reef with the installation of almost 100 new solar panels to reduce his resort’s diesel consumption to 100 litres per day by the end of the year.

“We’ve just begun installing another 96 solar panels onto existing buildings at the resort so we can effectively double our renewable power capacity,” Mr. Gash said.

The resort used more than 550 litres of diesel fuel each day when it was only powered by generators, before installing a hybrid solar power system in 2008.

Mr Gash said the eco-friendly power system had made guests at the island resort conscious about energy conservation. He stated that “Apart from the obvious benefits for the reef, this culture shift has been the most positive spin-off of all”.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Tourism and Recreation Director Chris Briggs said Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort was among a number of high standard tourism operators working with marine managers to reduce their impact on the Reef.

“A healthy Great Barrier Reef is vital for a healthy tourism industry and we commend operators who are taking action to minimise their impact on the marine environment,” Mr Briggs said.

“Mr Gash has worked closely with us to establish a Great Barrier Reef Tourism Climate Change Action Strategy, which guides operators on how they can improve health and the viability of their industry,” he said.

Conducting an energy audit and making changes that minimise the operation’s impact on the environment is a key action identified in this strategy.

Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort is a member of Eco Lodges of Australia and has Advanced Ecotourism certification through Ecotourism Australia.

For more information about Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, please visit their website.