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Nature-based tourism boost in industry collaboration

nature-based tourism
QTIC Chief Executive Daniel Gschwind with Ecotourism Australia Chief Executive Rod Hillman.

Nature-based tourism operators in the Bundaberg Region are being given a boost through a new collaboration which will see eco-certified businesses receive extra benefits.

This month long-term industry partners Ecotourism Australia (EA) and the Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) entered into an agreement to cross-recognise each other’s certification programs.

EA certifies Australian nature-based tourism operators and destinations through its ECO, Respecting our Culture, Climate Action and destination certification programs.

QTIC certifies Queensland-based tourism businesses through the national Quality Tourism Accreditation program (QTAB).

Thanks to the new agreement, Ecotourism Australia’s over 200 certified operators in Queensland will receive all the benefits of the Quality Tourism Accreditation program.

These benefits include licencing to use the nationally recognised Quality Tourism Accreditation branding, access to their own ReviewPro online reputation management dashboard and automatic eligibility for the Queensland Tourism Awards.

Operators will also only be charged one, unchanged fee and be subject to a single, triennial audit.

Mayor Jack Dempsey said this new agreement provided even more incentive for local tourism operators to have their eco credentials formally recognised.

“We already know the Bundaberg Region is home to some of the best nature-based tourism experiences in the world,” Mayor Dempsey said.

Eco destination certification is an important goal the Bundaberg Region is working towards and the more individual operators and experiences that come on board, the stronger our case will be.

“We are so blessed here in the Bundaberg Region with a wide variety of natural wonders which also means there are countless tourism operators and initiatives that would meet the requirements of being eco certified.”

Chair of Ecotourism Australia Dr Claire Ellis praised the agreement, saying it was a logical evolution of the organisations’ long-standing relationship.

“Our industry relies on strong partnerships and now, more than ever before, it is vital we work together for the benefit of our operators and the industry more broadly,” Dr Ellis said.

“This will not only make businesses stronger and save them money but enable ourselves and QTIC to provide more integrated support as we work towards the sustainable recovery of our industry.”

QTIC Chair Shane O’Reilly is also Managing Director of O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, an Ecotourism Australia Hall of Fame entrant.

He said the agreement was a solid reflection of how both organisations focused on members, their future sustainability and viability and engaged them in ways to make their members more robust, and more resilient.

“While this will eventually strengthen both EA and QTIC as well, it is [the organisations’] focus on their members rather than themselves which makes this sharing of benefits such a special initiative,” Mr O’Reilly said.

“Tourism businesses need this type of initiative and grounded support and I encourage others in the political arena to take notice.”

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