Ecotourism and Green Australia

Ecotourism is no longer just a buzz word in Australia. Over the past decade, the concept of green living has gained greater acceptance among Australian tourists and by some accounts, the revenue of certified eco-friendly travel operators in Australia is more than $1 billion a year.

For those unfamiliar with the idea of ecotourism in Australia, it began more than ten years back as part of the International Year of Ecotourism in 2002. Since then, a number of travel operators have imbibed green living as part of their operational mantra. Thanks to this, there are over 11,000 ecotourism accredited travel operators in Australia. So how exactly does an accreditation work? EcoTourism Australia works under the umbrella of T-QUAL accreditation. This is the Australian national tourism accreditation framework and travel operators seeking Ecotourism accreditation can do so from the Tourism Australia website here

In the past, tourism operators practised a bare-minimum level of eco-friendly procedures in order to gain accreditation. This means things like asking their patrons to reuse washed towels instead of asking for new ones. Today, the process has evolved much more to include a number of high value eco-friendly processes like making use of energy efficient lighting systems, deploying more solar energy system, renewable waste water management, etc. These measures have helped Australia save several hundred thousand dollars annually.

A major reason behind this evolution is the general level of awareness among customers today. According to Rod Hillman, the CEO of Ecotourism Australia, travellers today are much more sensitive to the impact their lifestyle is having on the environment. As a result, they are more accepting of a hotel's request to make use of washed towels instead of requesting new ones.

Credit is also due to the Australian government for coming up with a business-friendly procedure for accreditation. Despite the cost that operators incur in obtaining a T-QUAL Tick from Ecotourism Australia, the process benchmark are themselves based on the size and turnover of the operators. This ensures that operators of all sizes can have an equal shot at obtaining a T-QUAL Tick.

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