Ecotourism Australia Certified Businesses Reach $1.11B P/Year

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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.


Rod Hillman – 0427 279 414

T: +61 7 3252 1530 | F: +61 7 3257 0331 | E:
Office: 6/67 O’Connell Terrace, Bowen Hills QLD 4006

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 South West Eco Discoveries

Congratulations to South West Eco Discoveries for achieving Nature Tourism Certification for their Eco Tours.

South West Eco Discoveries are a new tour operator based out of Abbey, WA with their half day Eco Tours taking guests through the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park in WA’s Margaret River region. Tours operate all year round and are tailored to suit each season to ensure guests always receive the best experience possible.

Owned and operated by brothers and experienced guides, Michael and Ryan White, with a life-time of local knowledge to share, South West Eco Discoveries pride themselves on providing comfortable, well-catered tours that focus on the natural environment. Obtaining Nature Tourism certification right off the bat, they strive to keep their environmental impact to a bare minimum and keep in close communication with the National Park to help achieve their conservation goals.

South West Eco Discoveries has a deep respect for the natural environment in which they operate, and they are passionate about helping guests appreciate the ecological vulnerability of the National Park. During tours Michael and Ryan share their knowledge and educate their guests on how they can reduce their impact and contribute positively to the environment. This remains at the core of their business and is evident right through from their SATRA tested footwear, to recycling old abalone shells caught by professional fishermen to use as souvenirs, to Michael’s involvement with the WA Department of Parks and Wildlife as a volunteer reptile handler.

To find out more about South West Eco Discoveries, visit their website.

Congratulations To Straddie Camping

Congratulations to Straddie Camping on achieving the trifecta of Ecotourism Australia certification: Advanced Ecotourism, Respecting Our Culture, and Climate Action Business certifications!

Straddie Camping offers a diverse range of camping and accommodation options across various locations on North Stradbroke Island. They have just achieved Advanced Ecotourism certification for their campsites at Cylinder Beach, Adder Rock and Amity Point. Straddie Camping offer a more ‘back to nature’ camping getaway, with hundreds of powered and un-powered camping sites nestled among sand dunes overlooking the island’s iconic beaches.


Straddie Camping are dedicated to protecting their environment, are actively working towards neutralising their carbon footprint, and have recently implemented a carbon offset option for all guests. They are also heavily engaged with the local Quandamooka community and offer a number of cultural experiences run by Indigenous guides, including interactive and educational demonstrations by local Indigenous artists and storytellers.

“Through consultations with our Elders and the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation, we work together to protect our lands and sea country in many ways, including taking part in cultural heritage management, Environmental Impact Assessments, negotiating over developments, educating the public and maintaining land and sea management responsibilities. Caring for our Country is our business.”

North Stradbroke Island is accessible by Ferry, and is an easy drive from both Brisbane and the Gold Coast, making it a fantastic weekender destination, but the Island has so much to offer, you’ll want to make it an extended getaway!

Find out more here:

Learn more about Ecotourism Australia’s certification programs here.

Surf Instructors Save Drowning Girls On Victoria’s Surf Coast

Surf instructors from Advanced Ecotourism certified tour operator, Great Ocean Road Surf Tours, rescued three people from drowning in a dangerous rip at Urquharts Bluff, near Anglesea Victoria recently, receiving much praise.

Two young girls, aged 12 and 14-years, were part of a family group who were swimming at Urquharts Bluff, about 5km east of Anglesea around 10am on January 7th. The particular stretch of beach is notoriously dangerous, with currents or rips between 200-300 meters offshore, and the conditions at the time were hazardous. “There are signs warning people of the dangers,” said Sgt Warburton, referring to signage on the beach. According to reports family members had tried to help the girls, but found trouble themselves in the dangerous rip. Further down the beach, another man also required assistance, and had to be pulled back to shore.

Fortunately on this day the Surf Instructors from Great Ocean Road Surf Tours were due to hold a class on the unpatrolled beach, and prevented a double drowning by paddling out on their boards to save the struggling swimmers. Two people have died at Surf Coast beaches in the past fortnight, the girls were very lucky. Rescue helicopters were called to the  scene before the victims were transported via ambulance to Geelong Hospital, both girls were in a stable condition and treated for exhaustion and having swallowed a lot of water.

Ecotourism Australia commends Great Ocean Surf Tours and their instructors for their bravery, quick thinking and fast acting – you’re everyday heroes!

Great Ocean Road Surf Tours is a surf school offering a range of surf tours from Melbourne, Torquay and Ocean Grove. To find out more about their tours, click here.

To read more about the rescue in the Geelong Advertiser, click here.

Tasmania To Open National Parks To Development By Tourism Enterprises

Like most States and Territories in Australia, Tasmania is seeking Expressions of Interest from tourism operators to develop tourism enterprises within their National Parks.

Ecotourism Australia supports sustainable and responsible tourism development within National Parks but only if it:

  • Follows appropriate guidelines and safeguards to ensure there is an acceptable balance between conservation and use, and it
  • Provides the tourism enterprise with a clear opportunity to succeed.

At a minimum it should follow strict guidelines, like the Tourism in Australia’s Protected Areas Forum’s (TAPAF – a group of representatives from State and Commonwealth park and tourism agencies) “Best Practice Guidelines for Eco-Opportunities in Protected and Natural Areas”. These guidelines were developed by the Parks and Tourism Agencies themselves and provide an excellent basis for a consistent approach across States. They are designed to ensure conservation and tourism outcomes are delivered through sustainable tourism operations that continue to enhance Australia as such a desirable and unique tourism destination.

Although the guidelines are an excellent starting point they should be expanded to address important issues:

  • How should existing ‘pioneer’ operators be treated (operating outside the Park) – How to recognise those who initially created the attraction without limiting competition and new ideas?
  • What happens if the enterprise fails? Who is responsible for the clean-up or dismantling of the impact and infrastructure of the enterprise?
  • It doesn’t require Park based tourism operations to maintain a framework to measure success in meeting environmental, social and economic goals (triple bottom line) – such as eco certification.

The previous policy of tourism development adjacent to Parks has proven to be a serious issue to Park Managers where the Park is expected to cater for the ever increasing needs of the tourists as a development outside the Park grows. The Park itself has to develop infrastructure, services and the associated maintenance without any tangible financial benefit. Bringing the tourism industry, conservation, Indigenous groups and government together through mutual benefit should provide better conservation and cultural outcomes whilst improving the visitor experience.

Read more about the plans to open Tasmania’s National Parks to development, here.

GBRMPA Release Outlook Report 2014

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) has just released their Outlook Report 2014, and with it some positive statistics for tourism, and for ECO certified tourism operators within the Marine Park.

Tourism in the area has seen a sustained recovering in 2012 and 2013, positive news after a 16 per cent decline in tourist numbers between 2005 and 2011. In 2013, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park saw visits by close to 1.9 million tourists on commercial tourism operations, with tourism continuing to make a significant contribution to management, presentation, and economic value of the Great Barrier Reef.

In the 2011-12 financial year, tourism in the Great Barrier Reef and its catchment area contributed approximately$5.2 billion to the Australian Economy and made up 90 per cent of all full-time positions derived from the Great Barrier Reef. The total economic contribution made through commercial and non-commercial use was close to $5.6 billion.

In 2013, 64% of tourists visiting the Great Barrier Reef chose tourism operations with Ecotourism Australia’s ECO certification. The number of reef-based tourism operations with ECO certification has also seen a steady increase, from 44 operators in 2009 to 64 in 2013.

GBRMPA monitors the conduct of all tourism operations, particularly those within areas of high use and sensitivity, and the impacts of tourism are localised to a few intensively managed areas. GBRMPA aim to minimise the negative impacts of tourism on the reef by such means as capping permit types, defining maximum group and vessel sizes in individual locations, and rewarding tourism operators with ECO certification with extended permits and marketing benefits. The tourism industry within the park is a key partner in its protection and management, with tourism operators acting as active stewards of the Reef and High Standard Tourism Operators demonstrating their commitment to ecologically sustainable use of the reef through independently seeking ECO certification.

To read the full report, click here.

To find out more about ECO certification, click here.