Ecotourism Australia’s 2017 Secret Shopping Unveiled!

Posted by Jacinta Palmer on 30 June 2017 | Comments

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Ecotourism Australia’s (EA) most recent Secret Shopping survey reveals exclusive findings based on a sampling of one third (150) of our certified members. Our mystery shopper, from May to June, anonymously experienced members services and products through online assessments and points of contact, via e-mail and telephone queries.

We’d like to share our conclusive findings on key Ecotourism business fundamentals including online presence, commitments to sustainability, and communications. A statistical analysis report of our members audits was created to provide detailed summarisation of the results, quantifying and qualifying all data to include graphed stats and interpretations.

Out of 41 essential categories assessed, an average benchmark score of 0.56 was attained for one third of members audited. 71 out of 150 members are performing above average as a result. Ecotourism Australia continues to support the tourism industry and our certified members by setting the benchmark for high quality standards of customer experiences, business practices, and commitments to sustainability.

What are some Key Findings?

online graph

Facebook is the most utilised social media outlet, however an increasingly popular media plug is Instagram. Instagram has more than 500 million active users, and has direct correlation between the increases in tourist influx and tourism businesses post activity, as stated by the National Geographic. Our findings show 76 members are on Instagram, with more (81) currently utilising Twitter. Both media plugs have their advantages in the tourism industry. 


105 out of one-third (150) of our members hold Advanced Eco Certification. 125 of members hold Green Travel Leader status. Green Travel Leader status identifies members as being certified for 10 years or more, demonstrating longevity within our programs. All our Green Travel Leaders make up approximately 30% of all our certified members in total.

This shows a large majority of certified operators are longstanding members of Ecotourism Australia, with a high commitment to sustainable ecotourism best practices. All our certified members maintain standards that commit to leaving minimal impact on the environment, conserving and respecting cultures, and offering quality tourism products, services, and interpretive materials.

A large majority of members audited display their commitments to sustainability in significant ways, including educating the public through environmental interpretation (111) and through easy to find information (110). 112 members stated their sustainability and environmental values, and 129 shared their commitments to conservation on their websites.

Conducting the Secret Shopper Audit allows us to assist members in optimising the outcomes of their business, and environmental, initiatives. We also aim to assist operators in establishing best practice principles that are relevant and aligned with benchmarked standards.

“Best practice ecotourism standards support delivery of world class experiences and encourage the protection of the natural and cultural environment. Industry certification programs provide effective standards, and sends a strong message to the market that tourism operators are best practice, providing competitive positioning”– Queensland Government, QuEST, Dep. National Parks, Sports and Racing.

Members can take advantage of the results by seeing where a third of our certified operators fall in the categories of assessment from this audit, consider how they themselves perform, and how these findings can be utilised to further improve key areas of their own business operations. This also includes certification benefits and requirements, and assists operators in maximising their certification outcomes.

For all Certified operators, ECO certification provides recognition for consumers to be assured of the commitment to environmental best practice, quality experiences and customer service. EA aims to encourage tourism operators to become more sustainable, through approaches such as assisting operators to improve the quality of interpretation offered to visitors.

To view the full scope of the results in our statistics report, click here.

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