26th GLOBAL ECO CONFERENCE ADDRESSES OVERTOURISM, ECOTOURISM DEVELOPMENT IN PARKS AND THE FUTURE OF THE REEF
Ecotourism Australia’s 26th Global Eco Conference, held in Townsville, Queensland from 26-28 November, once again brought together the nation’s leading experts on nature-based tourism to discuss the industry’s big issues.
The jam-packed three-day program featured keynote presentations from renowned mountain climber Michael Groom, Climate Change Authority Chair Dr Wendy Craik and Chief Scientist of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Dr David Wachenfeld, as well as Director of the Australian Committee for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Katherine Zischka, Managing Director of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation Anna Marsden, CEO of Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef Andy Ridley, Chair of Ecotourism Australia Dr Claire Ellis, Assistant Minister for Tourism Industry Development Meaghan Scanlon MP and 10-year-old founder of the Straw No More Project, Molly Steer.
Over three days, 230 delegates representing 20 countries also heard from academics representing The University of Queensland, The Griffith Institute for Tourism and Lincoln University (NZ) among others, as well as from the heads of parks agencies from around Australia.
“This Global Eco Conference really took hold of the theme: It’s Time, said Dr Claire Ellis, Chair of Ecotourism Australia.
“Key messages that came through from the floor and through the speakers was that it is time – time to get serious about climate change in our actions, in our ways of doing business and through our advocacy.
“It has been great to see such a wealth and breadth of knowledge represented at this year’s Global Eco, and we’re really excited for what the future holds for our industry.”
Key themes that emerged – both from the keynote presentations and through the calendar of networking events organised alongside the conference - were topics like overtourism, the state of the reef and the best way to develop ecotourism opportunities in Australia’s protected areas. These issues are pressing concerns of our time which require concerted, collaborative and evidence-based decision-making to ensure the protection of our valuable natural assets and the long-term sustainability of our tourism industry.
The Global Eco Conference also presented an opportunity for Ecotourism Australia to recognise its 14 longest certified members, all of whom have held certification for at least 20 years:
- Binna Burra Mountain Lodge (QLD)
- Canopy Rainforest Tree Houses & Wildlife Sanctuary (QLD)
- Exceptional Kangaroo Island (SA)
- Gecko Canoeing and Trekking (NT)
- Gippsland High Country Tours (VIC)
- Kingfisher Bay Resort (QLD)
- Ocean Rafting (QLD)
- O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat (QLD)
- Quicksilver Connection (QLD)
- Silky Oaks Lodge & Healing Waters Spa (QLD)
- Skyrail Rainforest Cableway (QLD)
- Tour Gold Coast (QLD)
- Wavelength Reef Cruises (QL)
- Wildlife Habitat (QLD)
As Rod Hillman, CEO of Ecotourism Australia said: “We are extremely grateful to these members for their long-term support, and proud to recognise their ongoing commitment to providing nature-based tourism experiences which foster environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation. These operators set the tone for best practice ecotourism in Australia, and it was high time for them to be recognised.”
For more information about the Global Eco Conference, visit www.globaleco.com.au