The Bundaberg Region has become the second destination in Queensland and fifth in Australia to announce ECO Destination Certification from Ecotourism Australia.
The globally recognised ECO Destination Certification process through Ecotourism Australia is complex and recognises the efforts of the entire community, local government and tourism industry towards all aspects of regional sustainability.
Following independent assessment across 91 criteria, the region achieved the certification at the Ecotourism level which is defined as a “[n]ature-based tourism destination with a strong commitment to ecotourism principles. This involves cultural and natural interpretation and education for visitors, and local business engagement in sustainability”.
The Bundaberg Region is home to some of the most lauded eco-certified experiences on the Great Barrier Reef including Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, Lady Musgrave Experience, Mon Repos Turtle Centre and Kellys Beach Resort.
Mayor Jack Dempsey said Bundaberg Regional Council had led the certification process with support from a range of stakeholders including Bundaberg Tourism, PCCC and local operators and organisations.
“It is a massive coup for the Bundaberg Region to achieve ECO Destination Certification and sees our community become one of only a small number in the country to do so,” Mayor Dempsey said.
“This achievement demonstrates our community’s respect and care for the natural environment and will ensure we continue to grow in a sustainable way into the future.
“Ecotourism Australia’s independent auditor had some wonderful feedback for our region in making their decision and commended Council for its proactive approach to sustainability.
“This achievement has obvious benefits for our economy but it will also benefit our environment by providing a framework to constantly maintain and improve sustainability practices.
“It is also wonderful for our community members who can be proud of the role they play in preserving and protecting this place we are lucky enough to call home.”
The auditor also noted that, of the top five Bundaberg Region attractions and traveller favourites on TripAdvisor in 2022, three were nature-based and included Mon Repos Turtle Centre, Bundaberg Botanic Gardens and Alexandra Park Zoo.
Ecotourism Australia Chief Executive Elissa Keenan said Ecotourism Australia was proud to award the Bundaberg Region ECO Destination Certification at the Ecotourism level.
“Bundaberg Regional Council’s rigorous efforts to implement sustainable destination management practices at a global standard mark a strengthened environmental focus for the region’s tourism industry,” Ms Keenan said.
“Achieving ECO Destination Certification not only supports local Ecotourism Australia certified operators but inspires local tourism businesses to implement sustainability and achieve certification.
“Bundaberg Regional Council shows an ongoing commitment to developing the region’s responsible tourism product by engaging operators to uptake Ecotourism Australia’s globally recognised programs, through our legacy ECO Certification, and now new sustainable tourism programs available to the wider tourism industry.
“Bundaberg’s application demonstrated a passion for, and dedication to, holistic sustainability within the region, championing initiatives such as the One Million Trees Project and the popular Milbi Festival.
“Congratulations to the Bundaberg region on this significant achievement.”
Bundaberg Tourism played a key role in supporting the ECO Destination Certification process which CEO Katherine Reid said was set to make the region even more popular with travellers.
“The tourism industry of the region has long believed that experiencing our internationally significant but fragile natural assets is the greatest way to educate people about the need for conservation,” Ms Reid said.
“The community and our tourism industry take great pride in our role as custodians of the Great Barrier Reef and the precious land, water and sea Country of the Traditional Owners on which we live and ECO Destination Certification is formal acknowledgement of this.
“The Bundaberg Region continues to shine as one of Australia’s most exciting emerging tourism destinations, with people flocking from around the nation and the globe to experience our unique offerings.
“The knowledge that their holidays are underpinned by respectful, sustainable and, in some cases, regenerative business practices will only strengthen our desirability as a destination.”
What is an ECO Certified Destination?
The ECO Destination Certification program assures travellers that certified destinations are backed by a strong, well-managed commitment to sustainable practices and provide high-quality nature-based tourism experiences within the region.
Becoming a certified ECO Destination means regions will be demonstrating internationally recognised ecotourism credentials to visitors, stakeholders and the community in a manner that is credible and authenticated.
In other words, it’s not just regions saying they’re sustainable – it’s independently assessed, verified and audited.