INAUGURAL ECOTOURISM MASTERCLASS A RESOUNDING SUCCESS
When a presenter knows enough about a small, Australian marsupial to turn it into a 20-minute business analogy, you know you could only be at an ecotourism event.
The expert in question, Founder and CEO of the Conservation Ecology Centre on the Great Ocean Road, was Lizzie Corke (also a current Director of Ecotourism Australia) – one of seven high-level speakers engaged to present at our recent 1 Day Ecotourism Masterclass, held in Cairns on 11 September.
The other speakers were Fred Nucifora, Director for Education, Stewardship and Partnerships at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority; Jan Claxton, Owner/Operator of multi-Australian Tourism Award-winning tour operations Ocean Rafting Whitsundays and Ocean Safari Cape Tribulation; Australian Tourism Award-winning accommodation owner (and Ecotourism Australia Director) Michele Bain; Marketing Manager of Parks Australia Leanne McLaughlin; mountain rescue hero, Mt Barney Lodge owner and Ecotourism Australia Director Innes Larkin and Assistant General Manager of Mossman Gorge Centre, Rachael Hodges.
“Ecotourism – travel that doesn’t cost the earth – is delivered by people with passion, people with knowledge and people who want to help you see the world for what an amazing place it is,” said Rod Hillman, CEO of Ecotourism Australia.
“For the masterclass, our aim was to have seven icons of the industry share their insights and secrets of success with other members and interested stakeholders.”
With a program featuring such diverse topics as ecotourism excellence, conservation and philanthropy, Indigenous tourism, citizen science and wearing your heart on your sleeve, attendees were given practical tips and inspiration on how to improve their business. These tips proved to be of great value both for existing ECO certified businesses and for those new in the industry:
“[The masterclass gave me] great insight into other businesses and what happens in other states. [It] reconfirmed the need to keep the ecotourism flag held high,” said Abi Ralph of Advanced Ecotourism, Climate Action Business and Respecting our Culture Certified Daintree Discovery Centre, which has been a member of Ecotourism Australia for close to 20 years.
Non-Ecotourism Australia members agreed:
“If you’re a new starter in the industry (like me) it’s a must because you can meet amazing people and learn from so many different experiences,” said participant Kerim El Gabaili, of the masterclass.
“I would recommend the Ecotourism Australia Masterclass, agreed Ros Scott of Cairns School of Distance Education.
“I found the speakers to be very informative and as I am new to this sector, I am enthralled by the achievements of ecotourism and the astonishing and remarkable efforts your speakers’ establishments have gone to to develop their ecotourism businesses to be so outstanding in this sector.”
The masterclass, designed to provide a taste test of our annual Global Eco Conference, the longest-running ecotourism conference in the world (26-29 November 2018, Townsville), brought together representatives from 27 Ecotourism Australia certified tourism businesses (including six Australian Tourism Award-winning operators and several Queensland Tourism Award winners) as well as representatives of the Douglas Shire Council, Tourism Port Douglas and Daintree and the Wet Tropics Management Authority, together with educational institutions, new tourism businesses, and others interested in learning about ecotourism.
Across seven presentations and three panel discussions, participants learned not only how much a long-nosed potoroo could teach them about business, but also how building in citizen science projects can add richness to bucket-list experiences, how to better engage Traditional Owners, how a simple quadrant can help to identify the brand drivers in your business and how to create successful tourism awards submissions. Equally importantly, they learned how driving your business with passion and a true love for the environment makes good business sense.
“Managing an ecotourism business is an endless journey of learning and improving,” said Rod Hillman.
It is hoped that these masterclasses can pave the way for a new level of engagement and mutual learning between Ecotourism Australia’s members and stakeholders, and one that can be repeated in other parts of Australia.