In a major boost for the region's eco-certification status, the Mon Repos Turtle Centre has been recognised as one of Australia's best ecotourism experiences.
The centre has received Advanced Ecotourism, Respecting Our Culture and Climate Action certifications by Ecotourism Australia – an organisation that recognised Australia’s best environmentally sustainable and culturally responsible tourism operators.
The Bundaberg Region has been seeking Eco-Destination certification from Ecotourism Australia since it was announced as a Bundaberg Regional Council advocacy priority in 2020.
Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said the certification saw Mon Repos join an exclusive list of 20 tourism businesses Australia-wide which had achieved all three certifications, joining Queensland’s Daintree Discovery Centre and Townsville’s Reef HQ Aquarium.
“These certifications recognise the Mon Repos Turtle Centre’s commitment to turtle conservation, support for the local community, promotion of the cultural values of the area’s First Nations People and visitor education,” Minister Scanlon said.
During the accreditation process she said an auditor described Mon Repos as “a jewel in the crown of Queensland’s ecotourism experiences”.
The centre’s ability to successfully combine conservation and research and its presentation of natural and cultural values was also applauded.
Mayor Jack Dempsey welcomed the Mon Repos Turtle Centre’s achievement and said it was a massive boost to Bundaberg Regional Council’s push to achieve Eco-Destination certification.
“Council has been working with local industry to achieve internationally recognised sustainable destination status through Ecotourism Australia,” Mayor Dempsey said.
“It is no secret that we live in one of the most naturally diverse and beautiful locations on the planet.
“As a region we take pride in protecting and preserving this natural beauty.
“We know that worldwide travellers are looking for sustainable experiences and this certification would help our region to tap into this multi-million dollar industry.
“Local tourism operators already deliver world-class tourism management experiences and practices on a daily basis and the addition of Mon Repos Turtle Centre to this exclusive list further enhances what our region has to offer.”
He said Council was committed to supporting the region’s tourism industry by offering eligible operators within the Bundaberg Regional Council area who wish to become ECO Certified through Ecotourism Australia a 50 per cent subsidy on their first annual certification fee.
The Mon Repos ecotourism certifications come after the Queensland Government invested $750,000 to install 446 new solar panels and battery storage to power the Mon Repos turtle centre and conservation park.
“When operational in January 2022, the solar system will produce 170kW of solar power with 400kWh of battery storage to cover 97 per cent of the centre’s electricity consumption,” Minister Scanlon said.
“We have also purchased an additional 42 hectares of land to double the size of the conservation area to more than 80 hectares.
“As well as protecting our turtles, Mon Repos’ renewable energy is also protecting our environment.”
Ms Scanlon said the re-developed Mon Repos Turtle Centre was opened in late 2019 and offered visitors a state-of-the art ecotourism experience that allowed them to fully immerse themselves in marine turtle research and conservation.
“The design of the centre was carefully considered to ensure the building is ecologically sustainable, long-lasting and had minimal impact on the surrounding environment,” she said.
“More than 30,000 people visit the centre each year to experience the wonder of seeing a turtle lay her eggs, or to watch hundreds of tiny hatchlings emerging from their nests.”
Nightly turtle tours run from November to March each year. Tickets, when available, can be purchased from Bundaberg Region – Bundaberg Turtle Season.
More information about the Mon Repos Turtle Centre is available at https://parks.des.qld.gov.au/parks/mon-repos.