Local tourism operators looking to tap into the billion-dollar ecotourism industry are being given a helping hand through Bundaberg Regional Council’s Eco Certification Incentive Scheme.
The policy offers eligible tourism operators within the Bundaberg Regional Council area, who wish to become ECO Certified through Ecotourism Australia, a 50 per cent subsidy on the first annual certification fee.
Mayor Jack Dempsey said eco certification was one of Council’s advocacy priorities and had the potential to grow local visitation rates.
“Ecotourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of global tourism and when you live in a region as naturally diverse and stunning as ours, it just makes sense,” Mayor Dempsey said.
“By attaining destination certification, we will not only have a positive impact on the environment, we’ll support our local economy by boosting visitor numbers to the region.
“For local tourism operators becoming eco certified is a significant commitment so Council wants to support them through this process.
“The Eco Certification Incentive Scheme is one of the ways we are offering that support.”
In addition to the cash subsidy, Council’s incentive scheme will offer promotional benefits to eco certified businesses and will see them included in an established network of authentic and sustainable visitor experiences.
Bundaberg Tourism also showcases eco certified businesses through its website including sustainable travel itineraries.
According to Tourism and Event Queensland’s recent Nature Based Tourism strategy, the sector is a significant contributor to the state visitor economy, with pre-COVID estimates placing the value to the economy at $5 billion per year.
The strategy also credit sustainable tourism practices as leading the way in post-COVID recovery for domestic travel.
Bundaberg Tourism CEO Katherine Reid encouraged eligible operators to seek certification and take advantage of the Eco Certification Incentive Scheme.
“The eco certification is for tourism products with a primary focus on nature (tours, accommodation, attractions),” Ms Reid said.
“It assures travellers that certified products are backed by a strong, well-managed commitment to sustainable practices and provides high quality nature-based tourism experiences.
“Having completed several submissions myself for nature-based tourism experiences over the years, it is quite extensive, but the benefits of the program and the commitment to sustainable practises, far outweighs the work!
“This accreditation program can be transformative for your business and your visitor experience, with a holistic look at how your operation connects, contributes and celebrates the surrounding environment and community that it supports.”
She said local businesses should explore either the eco certification or the climate action certification.
“I also congratulate Bundaberg Regional Council for taking the challenge head on with their commitment towards ECO Destination accreditation and hope that real, authentic change is implemented across the region for the future of our people, place and planet.”
Eligibility criteria for local operators to seek eco certification:
- The tourism operator’s customers activity time must be spent within a natural area or with a focus on the natural or cultural values of the area.
- The products to be certified will help customers to directly and personally experience nature in a sustainable manner.
- All necessary licences, permits and approvals are obtained from relevant authorities and agencies.
- The tourism operator consistently meets customer service expectations and has defined customer service procedures and is committed to delivery of a quality tourism experience.
- Economic, social and environmental sustainability principles are core to the operation of the business.
More information on eligibility for eco certification is available through Ecotourism Australia’s ECO Essentials Guide.
For more information about the benefits of eco certification or how to access the associated benefits, head to the project page or contact Council’s Eco Tourism Officer on 1300 883 699.