Gippsland High Country Tours
Advanced Ecotourism & ROC | Certified since 1997
EA: Twenty years is a long time. What is something you’ve learnt over the years that you wish you had known 20 years ago?
GHCT: That its not impossible to know what bird call “that” is, or what the scientific name of “that” plant is. I have learnt so much about ecology (and how to interpret it to others) over the years as my natural history experiences have accumulated. I’ve explored, researched, read, discussed and learnt from experts in their relevant fields. I certainly wish I could have had all that experience and knowledge 20 years ago!
EA: What piece of advice would you give to operators entering the ecotourism market today?
GHCT: Keep your products genuine and never stop learning or improving your products. Be curious about nature and share your enthusiasm as well as your knowledge. I think it took years for me to realise how much my love and enthusiasm for the places I visit (and the nature experiences that went with them) inspired my clients. Guides and the people that your clients engage with in your business are critical to your success. Know your stuff and present it honestly, but also be prepared to learn from others or learn together as you and your clients search through a book for an answer to one of nature’s puzzles.
EA: What importance do you place in your ECO Certification?
GHCT: I place a great importance in my ECO Certification, not because it in itself brings any significant financial benefit to my business, but because it identifies standards and measures/recognises my achievements against these standards. It provides my business with credibility in the wider tourism world where micro businesses like mine can otherwise be buried, unseen amongst the masses of larger businesses. Recognition of genuine ecotourism product by consumers has been slow across Australia and I value the work Ecotourism Australia has done to build this awareness and “brand trust” in ECO Certified products. Most important it is critical to demonstrate the standards that need to be the way forward for sustainable tourism into the future.