Operator Credibility and Recognition
For all Certified operators, certification is recognition of a high standard of operations, and is beneficial when applying for grants, awards, licenses or permits.
Our certification schemes are independently assessed and audited, ensuring a high standard for quality and compliance. ECO certification provides recognition for consumers to be assured of your commitment to environmental best practice, quality experience and customer service.
Global Sustainable Tourism Council Approval
The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) establishes and manages global sustainability standards for the tourism industry with the aim of increasing sustainable tourism knowledge and practices among public and private stakeholders. In 2015, Ecotourism Australia achieved GSTC-Approved status for ECO certification through the GSTC Integrity Program. This means that the program standards and criteria are recognised by the GSTC, and have been reviewed by GSTC technical experts and the GSTC Accreditation Panel and deemed equivalent to the GSTC Criteria for sustainable tourism, and is following processes and procedures that have been reviewed and approved by the GSTC.
- Ecotourism and Advanced Ecotourism certified operators are eligible to carry the GSTC-Approved Tick logo on marketing collateral for their certified products.
- Ecotourism and Advanced Ecotourism certified accommodations are listed on the GSTC website as an Approved tourism product, and tours and attractions will be added in the future.
Marketing and Promotion
- Free listing (with image, link to your website, contact details, fully searchable capabilities, and more) in Ecotourism Australia's online Green Travel Guide. Our Green Travel Guide is promoted regularly through Ecotourism Australia's web marketing streams, and at Australian Tourism Exchange to international buyers.
- Free linking of your products to an interactive map on Ecotourism Australia's Green Travel Guide.
- Opportunity to upgrade to Premium web listing options on Ecotourism Australia's Green Travel Guide.
- Free opportunities to feature in our monthly EcoBytes newsletter distributed to over 9,000 subscribers and followers.
- Increased social media exposure: Ecotourism Australia regularly features certified operators through social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and reaches out to over 9,000 followers, share with us so we can share for you!
- Ecotourism Australia features and refers to certified operators in Green Expos, trade events, media referrals and editorials. We also use our operators photos and footage in our own marketing material for additional promotional benefits.
- Ecotourism Australia regularly partners with major publications to offer members discounted advertising packages, making some marketing opportunities more accessible for small businesses.
Certified operators are entitled to a free product listing on the Our Planet Travel website, which includes a blog listing, with description text, contact details (including web link), and images. There are also opportunities to be featured in Our Planet Travel's Quarterly publication, which is distributed their own strong subscriber base and Partners' members in both print and digital media.
In 2014 we partnered with South African organisation, Coastal and Marine Eco Tourism Corp. (COMET), to license the distribution of ECO certification in Southern Africa. In a cross-promotional agreement, all Ecotourism Australia certified operators are entitles to a FREE web listing on the COMET website, with the inclusion of images, link to your website, contact details, and more.
Green Travel Leaders
Ecotourism Australia rewards its long-standing supporters through our Green Travel Leader status. Green Travel Leaders are tourism businesses that have held certification with Ecotourism Australia for 10 or more years. Green Travel Leaders receive:
- A free premium Green Travel Guide web listing, with priority listing, 5 rotating images, social media and TripAdvisor linking.
- The Green Travel Leader logo for display in their marketing material.
- Exclusive marketing opportunities.
In 2014, Ecotourism Australia partnered with TripAdvisor®, the world’s largest travel website, to introduce the TripAdvisor GreenLeader program to Australia. GreenLeaders aims to help travellers around the world plan greener trips by highlighting accommodation providers that engage in environmentally-friendly practices through their TripAdvisor listing. This partnership is an exclusive arrangement, where ECO Certified accommodation providers are automatically eligible for GreenLeader status. TripAdvisor's criteria for the GreenLeaders program has been acknowledged by Ecotourism Australia as an appropriate match for the ECO certification program.
ECO certified accommodation providers may achieve TripAdvisor GreenLeader status for free through Ecotoruism Australia by completing a short criteria supplement.
Australian Tourism Exchange
The Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) is an annual business-to-business forum, aimed to bring businesses working in the tourism industry together. During this event tourism operators have the opportunity to promote their products directly to international tourism wholesalers and retailers. The ATE is a global event, attended by around 1,500 delegates every year, including roughly 500 tourism businesses and over 600 domestic and international Buyer delegates and media representatives.
Understanding that attendance at the ATE is not always achievable for small businesses, Ecotourism Australia attends the ATE on behalf of all its certified operators. While attending ATE, Ecotourism Australia aims to promote members' products and create connections, build meaningful partnerships and value enhancing relationships, and to broaden the reach of our certification programs.
Australian Tourism Awards
The Australian Tourism Awards are an annual awards program celebrating and recognising excellence in the tourism industry. Each state and territory's Tourism Industry Council hold their own tourism awards, from which the winners filter through to compete at a national level.
Ecotourism Australia attends the Australian Tourism Awards as the sponsor of the Ecotourism category, which recognises ecologically sustainable tourism with a primary focus on experiencing natural areas that foster environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation.
Ecotourism Australia will happily supply nominating operations with a letter of recommendation to support their application.
Certification is a mandatory requirement for entrants into the Queensland and Tasmanian Tourism Awards. Ecotourism Australia's programs are approved certification standards for entry.
Membership with Ecotourism Australia
- Full Membership with Ecotourism Australia included with all Certifications.
- Certified Members receive full voting rights at the Annual General Meeting.
- Certified Members may nominate and/or stand for election to the Board of Directors of Ecotourism Australia.
- FREE optional membership with the Geotourism Forum.
- FREE listings for Certified operators and EcoGuides to advertise positions on our Career Opportunities page and in our EcoBytes newsletter.
- Dual Certification for ECO and ROC – no additional annual fee.
- Heavily discounted fee for operators already Certified through ECO or Climate Action to gain a second certification.
- EcoGuide discounts for operators with multiple certified EcoGuides.
Tourism Tribe Membership Discount
"Build your digital skills to build your business"
Tourism Tribe, a group of digital marketing specialists, has created an exclusive membership benefit with Ecotourism Australia. For $90 for the full year you will have access to:
- over 65 online tutorials spanning social media, SEO, web marketing, Google tools and more
- help forums
- online chat support
- member only webinars
- access to digital experts
Tourism Tribe is a space where those in the business of Tourism learn how to get a greater share of customers. We connect you with online learning resources, tourism experts and a community of like-minded businesses.
Global Eco Asia-Pacific Tourism Conference
Certified operators receive a 25% discount on registrations for the Annual Global Eco Conference. For more information, visit the Global Eco Conference page.
Sharing Best Practice and Continuous Improvement
- Commitment to the ECO, Respecting Our Culture (ROC) and Climate Action (CA) certification programs demonstrates a commitment of continuous improvement through certification upgrades, external audits and an opportunity to use developed templates for improving business performance.
- Opportunity to feature in, or provide ecotourism case study for publication and distribution through Ecotourism Australia.
- Opportunity to create local networks of tourism professionals with certification to promote operations and encourage shared practices.
Licensing and Permits
Certification is recognised and rewarded by Australian State licence and permit managers.
New South Wales:
Operators with a Nature, Ecotourism or Advanced Ecotourism certification are eligible for a 3 year license through NSW Parks and Wildlife Service.
Operators with Advanced Ecotourism certification are eligible for a 10 year license - extended 10 year permits are available through NSW Parks and Wildlife Service.
Tourism NT and Territory Discoveries support operators certified through one of their approved programs (including ECO and ROC Certifications).
In Kakadu National Park from 1 January 2013, tour operators accredited under approved programs will be able to apply for three year standard land-based permits.
South Australian Tourism Industry Council (SATIC) assist with administering the ECO, ROC and CA programs.
Certified Operators receive SATIC membership and ATAP accreditation free with their certification.
Operators with Nature Tourism + Climate Action certification are eligible for a 3 year Commercial Tour Operator License.
Operators with Ecotourism + Advanced Ecotourism certification are eligible for a 5 year Commercial Tour Operator License.
Products operating in a Tasmanian National Park are required to hold accreditation, with ECO Certification is one of the recognised programs.
Businesses nominating for Tasmanian Tourism Awards require certification, Ecotourism Australia's certification programs are recognised.
Operators with Nature Tourism certification are eligible for a 3 year license through Parks Victoria.
Operators with Ecotourism + Advanced Ecotourism certification are eligible for a 10 year license through Parks Victoria.
Operators with Nature Tourism certification are eligible for a 1 or 3 year license through the Department of Parks and Wildlife.
Operators with Ecotourism certification are eligible for a 5 or 7 year license through the Department of Parks and Wildlife.
Operators with Advanced Ecotourism certification are eligible for a 10 year license through the Department of Parks and Wildlife.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority offers 15 year permits to those operators on the Reef who have products certified at the Ecotourism or Advanced Ecotourism Levels.
Under the Tourism in Protected Areas program, Products operating within the Daintree, Whitsundays, Fraser Island, Moreton Island, Cooloola National Park and Natural Bridge will be required to hold ECO Certification under their new Commercial Activity Agreements through Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.
Tourism Queensland is offering any new product that joins ATDW that does not already receive the $50 discount (i.e. RTO/affiliated LTO/QTIC) will get the $50 discount if they are have Ecotourism Australia certification.