Meg Barker

NBT Coordinator, Department for Environment and Water

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Meg Barker1

Abstract

A Visionary Model: International Koala Centre of Excellence, Cleland Conservation Park

The International Koala Centre of Excellence is a new initiative in South Australia. As a State, we are blessed with extraordinary natural beauty and through Cleland Wildlife Park offer a unique opportunity for visitors to see a wide range of mammals, birds, and reptiles, all within a short drive of the city. However, of all our animals, the Koala attracts the most attention nationally and internationally.

In order for the Koala to thrive and live within our community, as well as ensure that respectful nature-based educational experiences are offered to visitors, the South Australian Government has established the International Koala Centre of Excellence. The Centre will lead vital research to increase our understanding about this remarkable animal and bring together education, science and tourism.

Enhancing the management and conservation of the Koala, the Centre aims to establish Adelaide as the ‘home of the koala’ by funding and directing ground-breaking research into our understanding and conservation of Australia’s best loved species.

Biography

Meg is super-connector driven by connecting people with each other, people with nature and people with experiences that leave a last impression on their lives.

With more than 20 year’s experience in tourism, primarily in regional South Australia, Meg has been a part of the team that delivered Nature Like Nowhere Else – A Strategy and Action Plan for activating nature-based tourism in South Australia. Working with the Department for Environment and Water and alongside the South Australian Tourism Commission and tourism industry, Meg has been an integral part of building the momentum for growing this tourism sector.

Graeme Bartrim

President, National Parks Association of Queensland

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Graeme Bartrim

Abstract

Co-presenter of ‘Ecotourism in National Parks: what is leading practice?’ with Laura Hahn.

Land use conflict in Queensland centres on economic activity and jobs versus the preservation of biodiversity and change to communities. Ecotourism is a very current example of this.

Ecotourism is focused on appreciating relatively unspoilt natural environments while promoting conservation and managing for low visitor impact. However, the term is applied more broadly by governments and industry to include intensive activities such as commercial cabins, glamping, cable cars, and ‘major’ events. Ecotourism is typically portrayed as a win-win for the environment, economy and local/regional populations, with visitation to national parks estimated to return almost $1 billion annually to Queensland. However, there are complex issues around the design and management of ecotourism activities in national parks, including what is ecologically sustainable, who is responsible for ecological impact costs, and whether sections of national park (public land) should be effectively privatised.

In response to state government enthusiasm for ecotourism, as loosely defined, NPAQ has researched 7 case studies of multi-day walking tours in national parks in Australia and internationally. A series of leading practices were distilled from this evidence-based approach essential to prevent long-term ecological impacts undermining the values upon which the Queensland national parks were declared, while improving visitor appreciation and experience.

Leading practices include: thorough transparent impact assessment; government ownership (with a rehabilitation bond); visible ranger presence; maintaining public access; monitoring and responding to impacts, and mandatory orientation and interpretative programs. The research also shows of a strong, proven business case for adopting leading practice in the design and management of multi-day walks in national parks.

Biography

Graeme Bartrim is the President of the National Parks Association of Queensland.

Tara Bennett

Executive Officer, Tourism Port Douglas Daintree

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Tara Bennett1

Abstract

Co-presenter of ‘Ecotourism: it’s everyone’s business’ with Gary Kerr.

Tourism markets are seeking more authentic and genuine experiences, and the ecotourism market is no different.

Providing “responsible travel to, and interaction within, natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education” is not just the responsibility of tour operators. Recognised eco accreditation of these operators provides visitors with the confidence that their experience will be a true and authentic eco experience.

However this confidence can be undermined if the environment in which the tour operators carry on their business does not meet similar standards.

How would visitors feel who come and experience the wonders of the Daintree Rainforest with an eco accredited tour operator only to be dropped off to their accommodation in Port Douglas that is using old inefficient lighting, has the air-conditioning cranked to nearly freezing and offers single use plastic cups and no sign of recycling of materials. For those that appreciate our environment they would feel a little disillusioned and their overall experience of the region spoilt.

To create a holistic eco experience, the entire region needs to demonstrate its commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability.

The Douglas Shire Council is on the journey to become the first region in Australia to achieve the Global Sustainable Tourism Committee’s Green Destination accreditation.

Taking a leadership role, the Council is engaging with its communities and enabling innovative programs to meet the GSTC’s accreditation criteria.

This is our story.

Biography

Tara Bennett is executive officer of Tourism Port Douglas Daintree, the local tourism organisation for the Douglas Shire. After growing up in country Victoria followed by a stint studying in Melbourne, Tara travelled and lived abroad for four years before settling in Port Douglas and forging a career in hospitality. After working her way through the ranks of Tourism Port Douglas Daintree, Tara’s current role sees her representing the region marketing to domestic and key international travellers and working with stakeholders to strengthen the industry for the region.

With a Masters in Ecotourism from James Cook University Tara has considerable experience in regional tourism issues and destination marketing. Tara is a passionate advocate for tourism and its role in achieving sustainable economic development for communities and conservation outcomes.

Alana Binns

Site Manager, Seal Bay Conservation Park, Department for Environment and Water

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Alana Binns

Abstract

Keeping up with the Times: the evolution of experience development and delivery in Seal Bay Conservation Park, Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Seal Bay Conservation Park is located on the south coast of Kangaroo Island in South Australia and is home to third largest colony of endangered Australian sea lions (ASLs) and delivers the most accessible ASL ecotourism experience in Australia. Managed by the South Australian Government’s Department for Environment and Water, Seal Bay operates 364 days a year and welcomes approximately 120,000 visitors annually. Careful consideration has been taken to ensure the experience seamlessly marries the conservation message of the ASL with a memorable visitor experience.

Since the conception of guided tours into the sea lion colony (1987), Seal Bay’s products have evolved to include a variety of experiences that have been specifically designed to focus on the varied expectations and needs of our guests, while addressing the protection requirements of an endangered species. Expectations and needs of visitors have evolved over time and yet at the core of the tourism offering is the protection and stewardship of these spectacular marine mammals. Contemporising the visitor experience whilst managing large numbers of visitors, maintaining the welfare of the sea lions and protection of the environment requires close monitoring, evaluation and action. Strategic and operational partnerships with the tourism industry, the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) and the community requires a collective commitment for the sustainability of the experience at Seal Bay and its evolution to keep up with the times.

Maintaining an immersive, unique and meaningful ecotourism experience with growing visitation in a ‘wildlife in the wild’ offering will have future challenges. Seal Bay is fast approaching a new era, where tour offerings are expanding to cater for exclusive, tailored and intimate experiences, as well as low impact, large group observation experiences in conjunction with local producers and stakeholders.

Alana Binns is presenting with Melanie Stonill.

Biography

Alana commenced working at Seal Bay in 2012 as Site Manager. Having grown up in South Australia by the beach, she developed a passion for protecting the environment that led her to study Environmental Management at Adelaide University, whilst continuing a career in retail management roles. Alana and her team at Seal Bay strive to provide the best eco and customer focused experiences.

Dr Matt Curnock

Social Scientist, CSIRO

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Matt Curnock

Abstract

Changes in the State of Great Barrier Reef Tourism from 2013 to 2017 and Challenges for its Future

Recent mass coral bleaching events in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) have received international media attention and have prompted a new interventionist management paradigm to protect coral reefs from the existential threat posed by climate change. Concurrently, significant effort has been invested in protecting the GBR’s reputation of ‘superlative natural beauty’, to help sustain its $5.7B tourism industry. But to what extent have perceptions of the GBR’s health and appeal changed among tourists and tourism operators, and is this affecting tourism visitation? In this study we compare survey data from >4500 domestic and international tourists and >100 marine tourism operators in the GBR region, collected in mid-2013 and again in mid-2017, as part of the Social and Economic Long-Term Monitoring Program (SELTMP). Among tourists, we identify significant differences in their ratings of the quality of reef activities, such as snorkelling and scuba diving, as well as their assessments of the GBR’s aesthetic beauty. While tourism operators remained optimistic about the future of their business in the GBR, their trust in institutions providing GBR-related information has fallen. We present these and other key findings in the context of the latest tourist visitation trends and other emerging industry patterns, and discuss implications and challenges for GBR tourism into the future.

Biography

Matt is a social-environmental scientist with the CSIRO, based in Townsville. His research career over the past two decades has included numerous ecotourism, wildlife management, and Great Barrier Reef-related projects. He has also recently worked in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and was responsible for management of their High Standard Tourism Program.

Louise Custance

VIDA Planners and Landscape Architects

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Louise Custance1

Abstract

Co-presenter of ‘An Eye on the Future’ with Matthew Flynn.

At the core of all our work is the conviction that we can do this better. Our aim is to design spaces that remake the enduring connection between us, our communities and our habitats while balancing creativity, sustainability and profitability – not one without the other. Not one over the other.

Because for us, nature-based and ecotourism play an important role in changing and/or challenging peoples’ perception of nature and their relationship to it. The idea is, they return home with a deeper insight into the role they can (and do) play in social and environmental issues and are empowered with tangible solutions to apply in their own homes/businesses (solar, rain water collection, native plants, fair employment policies etc.). Which is why our design process begins by bringing together the key decision-makers on site for a participatory workshop to share and understand ‘what is’ before we consider ‘what could be’. We spend time on site learning the language of the place – its history, orientation, vegetation, natural materials and landforms – and talking through the client’s vision. Because, we know that meaningful decisions and sound, connected solutions come from a deep understanding of people and their space – only then can we deliver an authentic, place-based, responsive, sustainable and regionally-inspired project. And, if a property is underperforming, it is important to know why. This doesn’t mean a fresh coat of paint; it means reviewing its relationship to the context, its accessibility, the arrival experience, and the operational costs – right down to the views people experience while they are relaxing by the pool.

For us, repositioning properties rather than tearing them down, encourages a part of the built fabric to evolve and grow with the community it serves. Utilizing an existing site also means less new road construction, less fragmentation of land and, ultimately, maximizing the guest experience of the natural surroundings - which is at the core of ecotourism now and into the future. With travel trends, consumer tastes and the role of social media evolving at a startling pace, along with the increasing number of destinations and lodging types available (e.g. responding to the pressures of Airbnb), it is increasingly critical for hotels and lodges (and often frustrating for the ownership and operators) to have one eye constantly on the future.

Working with some of the most reputable hotels and lodges in Central America , VIDA has assisted teams to work through and create strategic master plans to guide the improvement and expansion of the hotels and lodges via:

  • Improving the guest arrival experience
  • Reducing the impact of cars and vehicles
  • Integrating stormwater management
  • Improving the lodging experience
  • Improving F&B concepts
  • Improving common areas
  • Way-finding
  • Improving and updating infrastructure
  • Creating ‘Instagramable’ moments
  • Market-focused amenities
  • Skill and experience-based travel
  • Nature-based amenities and infrastructure
  • Improving operational and BOH efficiency
  • Improving staff facilities
  • Integrating villas and real estate offerings

The presentation will draw on VIDA’s projects and design solutions to share what we’ve learnt along the way.

Biography

Small town South Australia is a world away from Costa Rica – both literally and metaphorically. But, when you’re offered an opportunity to meld your skills, interests, training and passion, 15,000km is hardly an obstacle. Louise was on the next plane to San Jose. (OK, not literally this time – just metaphorically.) Louise has plenty of get-up-and-go and was immediately drawn to the diversity of projects that VIDA offered. Backpacking through Central and South America in 2011 had cemented her love of Latin America. Working for VIDA meant she’d need to travel and continue her learning – both of which she was more than willing to do. Having already had a glimpse into the working life of a landscape architect through TCL, one of Australia’s most successful landscape architecture firms, this girl from rural Australia was ready to chase big things.

Now every day is an adventure – amidst hard work – and Louise couldn’t be happier. When she isn’t off exploring new places near and far, Louise can be found playing sport, taking photographs, speaking Spanglish, surfing, scuba-diving, cooking or calling home.

Yvette Eglinton

Senior Project Officer, Environmental Science and Information Unit, Department for Environment and Water

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Yvette Eglinton1

Abstract

Inclusive Access in Nature-Based Tourism Experiences

Travel and tourism is recognised as one the largest service sector industries, therefore, it is imperative that people of all ages and abilities are allowed access to its activities. Accessible Tourism recognises the universal right for all people to participate in tourism. Tourism Research Australia estimates that 1.3 million Australians are in the market for accessible tourism. There is a sizeable, growing and diverse range of travellers with accessibility needs. With an estimated 20% of Australian adults having a disability or long-term health condition, and an ageing population, the disability sector is set to grow.

Natural settings have been identified as the dominant feature when travellers decide on a destination to visit. Contact with nature is critical for our physical, mental, social and spiritual health. However people with disabilities find it more difficult to access our natural environment, due to many barriers. One of the biggest barriers to travel is lack of information.

In response, National Parks South Australia, managed by the Department for Environment and Water (DEW) has set about improving information and accessibility to enhance the nature-based tourism experience for people with disabilities in the State’s most natural places. This case study will highlight the accessibility options available in South Australian parks and what DEW is doing to improve access and inclusion. We have learnt that without accessible parks, we lose an opportunity to reach the widest possible audience and share a spectrum of experiences.

Biography

Yvette Eglinton has been working for the Department for Environment and Water (DEW) for 11 years in the Marine Parks group as a marine biologist. She has used her knowledge and experience to help design and now evaluate the marine parks. In 2009 Yvette had a cycling accident in which she sustained a spinal cord injury and consequently became a paraplegic. Yvette was very active prior to her accident - she was an elite triathlete and enjoyed getting out in South Australia’s national parks. After her accident even though she worked for the department responsible for managing national parks, she had no idea which parks were accessible. In late 2017 Yvette and fellow DEW staff formed a team to set about improving accessibility of parks to ensure that people with disabilities have same opportunity to experience nature as those without a disability.

Matthew Flynn

Design Director, VIDA Planners and Landscape Architects

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Matthew Flynn1

Abstract

An Eye on the Future

At the core of all our work is the conviction that we can do this better. Our aim is to design spaces that remake the enduring connection between us, our communities and our habitats while balancing creativity, sustainability and profitability – not one without the other. Not one over the other.

Because for us, nature-based and ecotourism play an important role in changing and/or challenging peoples’ perception of nature and their relationship to it. The idea is, they return home with a deeper insight into the role they can (and do) play in social and environmental issues and are empowered with tangible solutions to apply in their own homes/businesses (solar, rain water collection, native plants, fair employment policies etc.). Which is why our design process begins by bringing together the key decision-makers on site for a participatory workshop to share and understand ‘what is’ before we consider ‘what could be’. We spend time on site learning the language of the place – its history, orientation, vegetation, natural materials and landforms – and talking through the client’s vision. Because, we know that meaningful decisions and sound, connected solutions come from a deep understanding of people and their space – only then can we deliver an authentic, place-based, responsive, sustainable and regionally-inspired project. And, if a property is underperforming, it is important to know why. This doesn’t mean a fresh coat of paint; it means reviewing its relationship to the context, its accessibility, the arrival experience, and the operational costs – right down to the views people experience while they are relaxing by the pool.

For us, repositioning properties rather than tearing them down, encourages a part of the built fabric to evolve and grow with the community it serves. Utilizing an existing site also means less new road construction, less fragmentation of land and, ultimately, maximizing the guest experience of the natural surroundings - which is at the core of ecotourism now and into the future. With travel trends, consumer tastes and the role of social media evolving at a startling pace, along with the increasing number of destinations and lodging types available (e.g. responding to the pressures of Airbnb), it is increasingly critical for hotels and lodges (and often frustrating for the ownership and operators) to have one eye constantly on the future.

Working with some of the most reputable hotels and lodges in Central America , VIDA has assisted teams to work through and create strategic master plans to guide the improvement and expansion of the hotels and lodges via:

  • Improving the guest arrival experience
  • Reducing the impact of cars and vehicles
  • Integrating stormwater management
  • Improving the lodging experience
  • Improving F&B concepts
  • Improving common areas
  • Way-finding
  • Improving and updating infrastructure
  • Creating ‘Instagramable’ moments
  • Market-focused amenities
  • Skill and experience-based travel
  • Nature-based amenities and infrastructure
  • Improving operational and BOH efficiency
  • Improving staff facilities
  • Integrating villas and real estate offerings

The presentation will draw on VIDA’s projects and design solutions to share what we’ve learnt along the way.

Matthew Flynn is presenting with Louise Custance.

Biography

Experience has taught Matthew that nothing produces results like the bringing together of great individuals, in-depth analysis, good listening, outstanding design and hard work. Matthew draws on 18 years of experience spanning four continents and a dozen countries. His work focuses on creating sustainable land-use solutions that balance creativity, sustainability and profitability for international resorts, nature-based communities, hotels, rural estates, private residences and ecolodges. These are lofty ideals for a boy from rural Australia - no argument. But, luckily, Matthew has the skills to back it up. He has extensive experience in the design, management and implementation of international projects and the proven ability to deliver world-class results - often in isolated regions on challenging sites. Prior to co-founding VIDA, Matthew was partner at 40NORTH and Managing Director of their expansion into Central America, following five years with EDSA in Beijing, China and Fort Lauderdale, USA.

Dr Jitendra GC

Executive Chairperson, Sajha Foundation

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Jitendra GC1

Abstract

Ecotourism: a sustainable prospective

We are newly practicing in Nepal, an Ecotourism in Nepal as Sustainable Tourism. Ecotourism focuses on local cultures, wilderness adventures, volunteering, personal growth and learning new ways to live on our vulnerable planet. It is typically defined as travel to destinations where the flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. Responsible ecotourism includes programs that minimize the adverse effects of traditional tourism on the natural environment, and enhance the cultural integrity of local people. Therefore, in addition to evaluating environmental and cultural factors, initiatives by hospitality providers to promote recycling, energy efficiency, water re-use, and the creation of economic opportunities for local communities are an integral part of ecotourism.

Historical, biological and cultural conservation, preservation, sustainable development etc. are some of the fields closely related to Ecotourism. Many professionals have been involved in formulating and developing Ecotourism policies. They come from the fields of Geographic Information Systems, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Photography, Marine Biology and Oceanography, National and State Park Management, Environmental Sciences, Women in Development, Historians and Archaeologists, etc.

Dr Jitendra GC is presenting with Maya Tamang.

Biography

Dr Jitendra GC is a policy expert, leading an Institution M/s Sajha Foundation, a Think Tank Institution in Nepal, working with Global Institutions and platforms. A policy wonk, traveller, climate change, ecotourism, circular/green economy and urban greenery are the field.

PhD Scholar, affilated with Kathmandu University and Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Ministry

Laura Hahn

Conservation Officer, National Parks Association of Queensland

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Laura Hahn1

Abstract

Ecotourism in National Parks: what is leading practice?

Land use conflict in Queensland centres on economic activity and jobs versus the preservation of biodiversity and change to communities. Ecotourism is a very current example of this.

Ecotourism is focused on appreciating relatively unspoilt natural environments while promoting conservation and managing for low visitor impact. However, the term is applied more broadly by governments and industry to include intensive activities such as commercial cabins, glamping, cable cars, and ‘major’ events. Ecotourism is typically portrayed as a win-win for the environment, economy and local/regional populations, with visitation to national parks estimated to return almost $1 billion annually to Queensland. However, there are complex issues around the design and management of ecotourism activities in national parks, including what is ecologically sustainable, who is responsible for ecological impact costs, and whether sections of national park (public land) should be effectively privatised.

In response to state government enthusiasm for ecotourism, as loosely defined, NPAQ has researched 7 case studies of multi-day walking tours in national parks in Australia and internationally. A series of leading practices were distilled from this evidence-based approach essential to prevent long-term ecological impacts undermining the values upon which the Queensland national parks were declared, while improving visitor appreciation and experience.

Leading practices include: thorough transparent impact assessment; government ownership (with a rehabilitation bond); visible ranger presence; maintaining public access; monitoring and responding to impacts, and mandatory orientation and interpretative programs. The research also shows of a strong, proven business case for adopting leading practice in the design and management of multi-day walks in national parks.

Laura Hahn is presenting with Graeme Bartrim.

Biography

Laura Hahn has more than 25 years in environmental and biodiversity management. She is the Conservation Officer of the National Parks Association of Queensland. NPAQ has been instrumental in protecting many of Queensland’s national parks.

Nicole Hitchcock

Senior Ranger, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service

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Nicole Hitchcock1

Abstract

Provision of Public Mooring Facilities to Support Coral Reef Conservation and Facilitate Sustainable Visitor Access: a case study of the Whitsundays

It is easy for Marine Park Rangers managing the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA) to feel despondent in the face of the big challenges to reef health: climate change; water quality issues; and the increasing frequency and intensity of tropical cyclones. On-ground, practical conservation actions at a local scale, however, can help boost local reef resilience and increase local stewardship of coral reefs. Within the GBRWHA, these management actions include: enforcing Marine Park zoning (particularly no-take) provisions; identifying and controlling outbreaks of Crown of Thorns Starfish (COTS); and minimising anchor damage from vessels on coral reefs at high visitation locations. Following severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie tracking through the Whitsundays in March 2017, it was identified that many previously popular and high visitation locations had been reduced to < 1% live coral cover. Other nearby locations however had been spared the same level of destruction. Given the high volume of boating and anchoring occurring in the Whitsundays, it became vital to minimise local impacts to reefs from anchoring practices by protecting what was remaining, assisting with recovery and enabling sustainable low impact access for visitors and tourism operators. This presentation will focus on the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service’s expansion of the Reef Protection Program (a network of public moorings and no-anchoring areas) in the Whitsundays area following severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie in 2017.

Biography

Nicole Hitchcock is an accomplished marine protected area management professional with post-graduate qualifications in marine science and protected area management. With 10 years practical experience working in the reef tourism industry, combined with 8 years within the Great Barrier Reef Joint Field Management Program as a protected area management practitioner, she has project managed various on-ground management actions for coral reef conservation. Areas of expertise include the provision of recreational and tourism infrastructure, marine animal stranding responses, coral reef health monitoring, tourism industry management and communication, education and stewardship. Nicole most recently has been delivering a $3M project expanding the Reef Protection Program (a network of public moorings and no-anchoring markers in the Great Barrier Reef).

Karen Hofman

PhD Student, University of Queensland

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Karen Hofman1

Abstract

Identifying Experts’ Opinion on Conservation Behaviours Protecting the Great Barrier Reef

Currently, little is known regarding the most effective individual behaviours and their direct link to the protection of the Great Barrier Reef and other environmentally sensitive areas. Therefore, it is essential to explore the opinion of experts, specialising in and experiencing the effect of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef, prior to any further development and testing of interpretation tools and campaigns designed to meaningfully increase the uptake of effective conservation behaviours.

The aim of this project is to identify the actions and behaviours individuals can perform to contribute to the protection of the Great Barrier Reef. Specifically:

  • Identify experts and stakeholders involved in and affected by the effects of climate change on the GBR;
  • Identify individual actions that reef visitors and non-visitors can do to help save the Great Barrier Reef;
  • Identify the key messages to include in materials provided to reef tourists and individuals off-site that will contribute to the long-term conservation of the reef. Practically, these results will also inform global and local protection agencies, interpreters and tourism operators on the most effective behaviours contributing to the conservation of the reef. Providing a concise list of behaviours to both visitors and non-visitors may reduce the issue of over-load and consequent resistance towards to the uptake of conservation behaviours

Biography

Karen Hofman has a background in tourism and education and teaches at the University of Queensland. Karen is currently completing a PhD working developing strategies to enhance visitors’ conservation behaviour to protect the Great Barrier Reef. Her research interests include visitor management, interpretation and sustainable tourism. In her spare time, Karen can be found scuba-diving reefs locally and around the world.

Violeta Imperial

Founder/CSR Provider, Nature Awareness and Conservation Club, Inc

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Violeta Imperial1

Abstract

Community Mangrove Ecotourism: climate change adaptation and risk reduction measure

There is a great wisdom in Ecotourism that teaches travellers the value of respecting creation, community and their culture. There are great opportunities to learn more and be more, after visiting the area.

Climate change and Global Warming, has been a big challenge to the communities and their livelihood bringing harsh weather conditions. Storms are getting stronger; summers are getting hotter, and discovering new deceases, rise of the sea level, melting of snow caps and more. Poor fisher folks are losing their home from strong storm surges.

One of the successful adaptation measures for the Climate Change challenges is Community Mangrove Ecotourism. It is a community of fisherfolks living around the mangrove forest, protecting it and nurturing a nursery.Mangroves bring many benefits in term of economic, social, educational and environment conservation. Mangrove roots can serve a marine sanctuary for the juvenile fish. The whole tree can serve as protection from storm surge, carbon sink and filters from soil erosions and landslides. We have more than 10 very successful Community Mangrove Ecotourism in the Philippines that is run by the organized fisher folks. Naming: Bataan, Calatagan, Pagbilao, Las Pinas, Maribojoc, Camiguin, Sorsogon, Catanduanes, Surigaodel Sur, Subic. The mangrove nursery serves as resource supply to other communities in the country. The site serves as educational sites for biology students and tourism destination for bird watchers. And the fisher folks serve as beneficiaries for the Corporate Social Responsibility for some NGO and Corporations.

Biography

Violeta Imperial is the founder of Nature Awareness and Conservation Club, Inc, Board of Director in Environment Education and Corporate Social Responsibility Provider.

She is a nature lover, mountain climber, scuba diver, volunteer reef checker and environment educator using creation to give conservation awareness to travellers and tourists. She is a social entrepreneur, nature guide, ecotour organiser and resource person for coastal ecotourism, conservation and CSR.

She has finished accounting, BS Education degree and currently taking Tourism Development and Management under University of the Philippines. She has a great passion of promoting tree planting as corporate social responsibilities to help the fishing community have alternative or supplementary livelihood during typhoon season. She has been organising Tree Planting, mostly mangroves as CSR for Environment Education and Climate Change awareness. Mangrove Community Ecotours also contribute to Sustainable Development Goals and Sustainable Tourism which will address the food security of the future.

Gary Kerr

Executive Officer, Douglas Shire Council

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Gary Kerr1

Abstract

Ecotourism: it’s everyone’s business

Tourism markets are seeking more authentic and genuine experiences, and the ecotourism market is no different.

Providing “responsible travel to, and interaction within, natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education” is not just the responsibility of tour operators. Recognised eco accreditation of these operators provides visitors with the confidence that their experience will be a true and authentic eco experience.

However this confidence can be undermined if the environment in which the tour operators carry on their business does not meet similar standards.

How would visitors feel who come and experience the wonders of the Daintree Rainforest with an eco accredited tour operator only to be dropped off to their accommodation in Port Douglas that is using old inefficient lighting, has the air-conditioning cranked to nearly freezing and offers single use plastic cups and no sign of recycling of materials. For those that appreciate our environment they would feel a little disillusioned and their overall experience of the region spoilt.

To create a holistic eco experience, the entire region needs to demonstrate its commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability.

The Douglas Shire Council is on the journey to become the first region in Australia to achieve the Global Sustainable Tourism Committee’s Green Destination accreditation.

Taking a leadership role, the Council is engaging with its communities and enabling innovative programs to meet the GSTC’s accreditation criteria.

This is our story.

Gary Kerr is presenting with Tara Bennett.

Biography

Gary has spent the last 20 years leading economic and community development in regional Australia based on competitive advantage and values.

Using this philosophy he has led many of leadership teams and have managed and provided strategic leadership and guidance to communities. He has extensive experience in developing and implementing strategic plans, operational plans and budgets, particularly in the complex environment of local communities. This has involved matching resources to service levels and organisational capabilities to deliver operational outcomes, including policies, processes and people.

The unique world-class environment in the Douglas Shire provides many opportunities for the local community to grow, sharing this fragile environment with the world through interpretation, education, entertainment and instilling in everyone an appreciation of our unique environment and culture.

Innes Larkin

Owner, Mt Barney Lodge

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Innes Larkin1

Abstract

Ecotourism and Nature Play: because no one ever remembered their best day of television

It is 2018 and there has never been a better time for the realisation that human interactions with nature are necessary and that the essential learnings about risk, resilience, and good health are firmly entwined with nature play.

Two in three children globally play outside for less than an hour and a half a day – that’s less than the two-hour guideline for maximum security prisoners in the US. Ninety-nine per cent of teachers surveyed in Australia believe that outdoor playtime throughout the school day is critical for children to reach their full potential.

If you who have ever taken learning outside, even just once, you don’t need the statistics. You’ve seen it, felt it, lived it.

Mt Barney Lodge has been engaged with Nature Play since its inception and now has over 50 activities over a school holiday period, which is not only building resilience, challenging parents but is also a catalyst for the growth of the business. Hear how Innes Larkin and the team at Mt Barney Lodge are transforming their business and the lives of the children they encounter one activity at a time…

Biography

Innes Larkin has been active in the outdoors from an early age and remembers climbing Mt Barney for the first time at age 11. Innes has bushwalked and climbed in Australasia, Europe, UK, and Nepal including expeditions to Mera Peak and Ama Dablam. In 2016 Innes was jointly awarded the Australian Search and Rescue award for his services in helping rescue 700 people.

A teacher with a Masters in Outdoor Education, Innes has taught in London, and QLD. In 2006 Innes and Tracey Larkin purchased Mt Barney Lodge and have grown the business 900% since then. Mt Barney Lodge has been ecotourism accredited since 1996 and now holds Advanced Ecotourism Accreditation.

A current member of the advisory committee for the Gondwanan Rainforests of Australia World Heritage property, and a board member of Ecotourism Australia, Innes is passionate about sustainable tourism and the lasting legacies it can bring to a region.

Mafila Richard Malesu

Environment & Eco-Certification Manager, Botswana Tourism Organisation

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Mafila Richard Malesu1

Abstract

Ecotourism Contributing to Wellbeing and Social Inclusion

Botswana case of using Ecotourism for contributing to wellbeing and to social inclusion as tool for achieving the SDG through the of maximising benefits of tourism to benefit host communities at the same time promoting and cultural heritage. The tools used to achieve this are the National Ecotourism Strategy of 2002, that lead to the development of Botswana Ecotourism Certification System augmented by the Community Based Natural Resources Management Policy, which allowed establishment of Community Concession Areas which enable the host communities to enter into partnership and joint venture with Private Sector to also operate viable tourism enterprises that improve their livelihoods. The associated benefits are helping the country meet the SDGS and social inclusion.

Biography

Mafila Richard Malesu is Environment and Eco-Certification Manager for Botswana Tourism Organisation, responsible for promoting the best environmental management systems across all tourism industry sectors with view to facilitate tourism development that is environmentally sustainable. He is responsible for implementation of Botswana Ecotourism Strategy and the Botswana Ecotourism Certification System, which lead to a steady increase of the licensed tourism facilities to participated in voluntary Ecotourism Certification System. He also facilitates nomination of Okavango Delta Ramsar Site for Sustainable Tourism Destination. Followed by Chobe, Makgadikgadi & Okavango Delta Ramsar Site as winner of World Travel & Tourism Council, 2010 & 2017 Tourism for Tomorrow Sustainable Destinations Award and Top 100 Sustainable Destination Awards for 2014, 2016 and 2017.

Darcelle Matassoni

Project Communications Coordinator, Lord Howe Island Board

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Abstract

Conservation Tourism in Practice: invitation to an eradication event

Q. How do you ensure the right visitor demographic are present during a world-first eradication event?
A. You invite them.

Lord Howe Island is the world’s largest populated island to undertake a full-scale rodent eradication; which will long term lead to increased environmental tourism opportunities. In the short term, the tourism industry - contributing $27m to the Island’s economy – voiced concerns over the impact of the Rodent Eradication Project (REP) on visitor numbers during the active eradication phase, scheduled for winter 2018.

An industrywide solution was developed to ensure visitor numbers - and by extension direct/indirect tourism profit - was maintained during the REP implementation phase. Employing a ‘build it and they will come’ approach to promote the eradication - a conservation volunteer and ecotourism focussed campaign was designed, building on 30+ years of private ecotourism tours to Lord Howe Island; encouraging both local and visitor participation in conservation and citizen science, delivered collaboratively with key stakeholders. The strategy successfully attracted the eco traveller demographic, with a ‘conservation volunteering’ motivation for travel compared to the standard winter motivation of ‘escape getaway’ (62%), furthermore 75% stated this was their first visit.

65% of this demographic have volunteered before, with 62% indicating that a key motivation for traveling to Lord Howe Island during winter 2018 was to volunteer in a conservation event (25% indicating that they travelled specifically to volunteer with the REP). This process can be replicated for other eradication events where tourism is a consideration and opens up new conservation tourism avenues.

Biography

A senior marketing and communications manager, experienced in developing and implementing strategies throughout Asia, Darcelle has worked on several environmental projects with the Lord Howe Island Board and Lord Howe Island Tourism Association (LHITA) over the last 3 years.

In her role as Project Communications Coordinator Darcelle is working primarily on communications and strategy surrounding the Rodent Eradication Project (REP) and associated long-term conservation plan. A key aspect of her current role is community engagement, allaying fears of the tourism industry though the development and implementation of an industry-wide Ecotourism strategy - in collaboration with key stakeholders - to grow a new tourism market for Lord Howe Island ongoing and ensure tourism is maintained during the REP.

Tawkiat Noisumlee Ph.D.

Freelance Consultant

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Abstract

Co-presenter of ‘Thailand Tourism Awards to Klong Daen Model: a community of sustainable development’ with keynote speaker Mr. Nithee Seeprae.

Initiated by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), a state enterprise with a mandate to promote the Thai tourism industry, the two-decade biennial “Thailand Tourism Awards” Project is a means to promote quality and excellence in tourism goods and services across the supply chain. The judging criteria are based on sustainability management in 4 aspects: environmentally-friendly tourism practices, social and cultural impact, local participation, and corporate social responsibility. In addition, value-added criterion, promoting creativity and innovation, as well as, modern marketing strategies, are also taken into account. In this connection, among the awards of excellence in management, community’s strength, maintaining and practicing cultural identity, as well as, economically and socially raising the community’s living standard with tourism, the community-based tourism management of the Buddhist community in Khlong Daen, Songkhla province, was chosen by TAT as a case study for building a community structure (Khlong Daen Model). It is targeted as a role model for other communities to create constructive and sustainable tourism, new quality tourist attractions, as well as, adjusting the country’s position to become a “Preferred Destination” in accordance with TAT’s vision.

Biography

Tawkiat Noisumlee Ph.D. is a freelance consultant. He has a background in expertise in creativity and innovation for productivity improvement. He has previously worked as a senior associate for Kepner-Tregoe (Thailand) Co. LLD. (International Management training and Consulting company), been a specialist engineer for Cardinal Health (Thailand) Co. Ltd. (Medical Glove producer) and process manager for Ansell (Thailand) Co. Ltd.

Marnie Ogg

Director, Travel Ogg Pty Ltd

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Abstract

Planetary Reflections

With the advent of LED lights and technological breakthroughs, events such as Vivid have become a popular tourist attraction. People are drawn to lights like moths to a flame, however, there is a growing movement of people looking for experiences that bring them back to nature, educate and inspire.

The Warrumbungle National Park was dedicated in 2016 as Australia’s first Dark Sky Park, joining over 100 designated places around the world. The pristine night skies over the Warrumbungles are now attracting ever more families, campers, bushwalkers and enthusiasts all seduced by astro-tourism and the Southern Night Sky.

Biography

Marnie’s drive and enthusiasm have been borne for a stellar career. She started at the grassroots of the travel industry building her own successful travel company, taking people around the world to visit places of scientific interest. She managed Sydney Observatory before devoting her time to one of her passions: preserving the night sky. Thanks largely to Marnie’s unrelenting efforts, in July 2016 the Warrumbungle National Park was designated a Dark Sky Park - the first in Australia. Since then she has spent her time educating the public of this globally expanding movement, re-engaging people with the natural heritage of the night sky and reducing the impacts of lighting pollution.

Charlotte Prouse

Destination Marketing Store

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Abstract

Co-presenter of ‘Target markets, global trends and what it all means for ecotourism’ with Carl Solomon.

In a competitive tourism market place, it is vital that destinations and businesses focus their attention on target markets. This means so much more for ecotourism than just focusing on the traditional ‘nature lovers.’

In our presentation, we will explore both demographics and psychographics of those markets interested in a nature-based or more specifically, an ecotourism experience. We look at global trends defining tourism, such as transformative travel to better understand and interpret their motivations, behaviours and barriers to travel.

Together, we’ll consider how destinations, businesses and communities can benefit from a deeper, more contemporary understanding of those who seek an ecotourism experience. This includes what it means for reaching, inspiring and engaging your target audience through the right channels and with compelling content and stories.

Finally, we will look at what this means for providing ecotourism experiences that will connect your guests or visitors in a meaningful way and make them life-long advocates of your product, place, people and conservation.

Biography

Charlotte has been working with tourism regions, organisations and destinations to create and implement great destination brands, strategic marketing plans and experience development strategies for the last 20 years.

Charlotte has worked extensively on brand and marketing strategies for regions and destinations, including undertaking the positioning of 12 of Australia’s National Landscapes (NL) and as part of the team to develop a number of NL Experience Development Strategies. Charlotte has also developed marketing strategies for some major destinations and organisations, including the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service.

Charlotte has mentored many small to medium sized tourism operators to build industry capacity and provide strategic marketing and experience development advice.

Daniel Smedley

Director and Architect, Studio S2 Architects

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Abstract

It’s Time to Stand Out from the Crowd: let your buildings do the talking

Eco Tourism is no longer a niche - how are you going to stand out from the crowd?

Explore how to become an authentic, trusted operator that attracts visitors, and how eco-tourism can drive profits and make your place unmissable. Learn how to

  • optimise your buildings and landscape to become Eco certified,
  • express your unique eco approach in your buildings, and
  • provide a tangible experience of how your buildings operate for your visitors to understand, interact with and learn from.

This presentation will look at the changes to the Eco certification criteria and guidelines for building and landscaping and demonstrate how they not only outline a path to Eco certification, but optimise your buildings’ energy use and help you provide a tourism experience that is not only unforgettable but transfers your eco influence to your visitors day to day life.

Biography

Daniel Smedley and wife Amy are the Directors of Studio S2 Architects - specialist Architects to the tourism industry.

Even before the start of his formal education in architecture Daniel had a fascination for how buildings work and how to optimise their efficiency. His study and career has seen him work across the country specialising in Tourism projects and bring his eco understanding to projects of all scales.

Daniel’s desire to share his knowledge and research began with a thesis on sustainability and the effect of the Building Code of Australia. His passion has grown to encompass how any design codes can both positively and negatively effect true ecological and sustainable impacts, and has seen him participate in the review of the Ecotourism Australia certification criteria and guidelines.

Carl Solomon

Director, Destination Marketing Store

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Carl Solomon

Abstract

Target markets, Global Trends and what it all Means for Ecotourism
In a competitive tourism market place, it is vital that destinations and businesses focus their attention on target markets. This means so much more for ecotourism than just focusing on the traditional ‘nature lovers.’

In our presentation, we will explore both demographics and psychographics of those markets interested in a nature-based or more specifically, an ecotourism experience. We look at global trends defining tourism, such as transformative travel to better understand and interpret their motivations, behaviours and barriers to travel.

Together, we’ll consider how destinations, businesses and communities can benefit from a deeper, more contemporary understanding of those who seek an ecotourism experience. This includes what it means for reaching, inspiring and engaging your target audience through the right channels and with compelling content and stories.

Finally, we will look at what this means for providing ecotourism experiences that will connect your guests or visitors in a meaningful way and make them life-long advocates of your product, place, people and conservation.

Carl Solomon is presenting with Charlotte Prouse.

Biography

Carl has created and executed award-winning brand, marketing, digital engagement and education campaigns, including for nature and cultural-based tourism and cause-related initiatives. He is passionate about effectively engaging communities to deliver innovation solutions, position destinations, attract visitors and increase revenue. He has also designed and delivered sustainable destination management plans and experience development strategies.

Throughout his career, Carl has worked across the community, business and government sectors with or for organisations such as NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS), Tourism Australia, Parks Australia and the United Nations, including as the inaugural Executive Director of Olympic Aid (now known as Right to Play) and ten years on the NPWS Executive including as Director of Tourism & Partnerships. Carl is currently a Director of Science for Wildlife Inc. and served as a Board Member of Australia for UNHCR for five years.

Melanie Stonill

Seal Bay Conservation Park, Department for Environment and Water

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Melanie Stonnill

Abstract

Co-presenter of ‘Keeping up with the Times: the evolution of experience development and delivery in Seal Bay Conservation Park, Kangaroo Island, South Australia’ with Alana Binns

Seal Bay Conservation Park is located on the south coast of Kangaroo Island in South Australia and is home to third largest colony of endangered Australian sea lions (ASLs) and delivers the most accessible ASL ecotourism experience in Australia. Managed by the South Australian Government’s Department for Environment and Water, Seal Bay operates 364 days a year and welcomes approximately 120,000 visitors annually. Careful consideration has been taken to ensure the experience seamlessly marries the conservation message of the ASL with a memorable visitor experience.

Since the conception of guided tours into the sea lion colony (1987), Seal Bay’s products have evolved to include a variety of experiences that have been specifically designed to focus on the varied expectations and needs of our guests, while addressing the protection requirements of an endangered species. Expectations and needs of visitors have evolved over time and yet at the core of the tourism offering is the protection and stewardship of these spectacular marine mammals. Contemporising the visitor experience whilst managing large numbers of visitors, maintaining the welfare of the sea lions and protection of the environment requires close monitoring, evaluation and action. Strategic and operational partnerships with the tourism industry, the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) and the community requires a collective commitment for the sustainability of the experience at Seal Bay and its evolution to keep up with the times.

Maintaining an immersive, unique and meaningful ecotourism experience with growing visitation in a ‘wildlife in the wild’ offering will have future challenges. Seal Bay is fast approaching a new era, where tour offerings are expanding to cater for exclusive, tailored and intimate experiences, as well as low impact, large group observation experiences in conjunction with local producers and stakeholders.

Biography

Completing a bachelor in Tourism Business Management Mel went on to work at luxury lodges before starting at Seal Bay in 2012. Providing inspiration experiences through the protection of an endangered species and conservation management is her career passion.

Maya Tamang

PhD Pursuant, MSc Environmental Science, Working with Ministry of Environment

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Abstract

Co-presenter of ‘Ecotourism: a sustainable prospective’ with Dr Jitendra GC

We are newly practicing in Nepal, an Ecotourism in Nepal as Sustainable Tourism. Ecotourism focuses on local cultures, wilderness adventures, volunteering, personal growth and learning new ways to live on our vulnerable planet. It is typically defined as travel to destinations where the flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. Responsible ecotourism includes programs that minimize the adverse effects of traditional tourism on the natural environment, and enhance the cultural integrity of local people. Therefore, in addition to evaluating environmental and cultural factors, initiatives by hospitality providers to promote recycling, energy efficiency, water re-use, and the creation of economic opportunities for local communities are an integral part of ecotourism.

Historical, biological and cultural conservation, preservation, sustainable development etc. are some of the fields closely related to Ecotourism. Many professionals have been involved in formulating and developing Ecotourism policies. They come from the fields of Geographic Information Systems, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Photography, Marine Biology and Oceanography, National and State Park Management, Environmental Sciences, Women in Development, Historians and Archaeologists, etc.

Biography

Maya Tamang is a PhD Pursuant, MSc Environmental Science, and works with Ministry of Environment. She has previously worked in the Department of Sustainable Tourism.

She has 3 books published and many articles edited.

Sophie Teede

Operations Supervisor (Marine), Busselton Jetty Incorporated

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Abstract

Full-steam ahead: tourism development in an environmentally sustainable way

Busselton Jetty is the longest timber-piled jetty in the southern hemisphere and its tourism business, run by Busselton Jetty Incorporated, offers visitors a unique view of the locale’s marine life through its Underwater Observatory. A fully guided, literally immersive experience, visitors are taken beneath the waves on a journey 8m down to the sea floor where they can experience the vibrancy and unique diversity of over 300 marine animals living in the habitat provided by the jetty structure from the inside comfort and convenience of the Observatory building. BJI operates its tourism business to the highest environmental standards, with knowledgeable staff conducting environmental surveys to assess the impact of new tour development and implementing monitoring programs where required. The jetty is also the location of the nation’s only operation of self-contained helmet diving, where visitors can explore the forest of jetty piles on an underwater walking tour. Through stringent environmental management, the development of this tour highlights the importance of sustainable tourism development. Through conducting extensive environmental surveys and liaising with local government authorities, our Underwater Helmet Walks has been a successful venture for BJI and provides a fantastic opportunity for visitors to experience the wonder of our marine environment.

Biography

Sophie Teede is Busselton Jetty’s Marine Supervisor who oversees the daily operations of the tours through Busselton Jetty’s Underwater Observatory. With her background in marine science and extensive knowledge of the local marine environment, she is also responsible for the organisation’s environmental management, carrying out environmental monitoring programs, marine debris removal and is the creator of a unique method for rehabilitating soft corals and sea sponges on the jetty’s piles which became damaged during scheduled maintenance. An avid SCUBA diver, Sophie likes nothing more than the opportunity to dive beneath Busselton Jetty and exploring the extensive seagrass meadows nearby.

Chris Thomas

Parks and Partnerships Manager

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Abstract

Nature in the Driver’s Seat: sustainable contributions to the visitor economy

South Australia’s Nature Like Nowhere Else, an activation strategy and action plan for nature-based tourism is hitting its stride in South Australia.

South Australia has thousands of kilometres of stunning coastline and some of the most amazing wildlife on Earth which provides an unforgettable nature-based tourism experience for the global visitor.

The South Australian Government wants to capitalise on the appeal of the State’s natural environment and realise the promise of a nature-based tourism destination. With 150 tourism businesses operating in the State’s 350 plus marine and terrestrial parks and reserves, the South Australian Government’s parks and tourism agency, in collaboration with the tourism industry and stakeholders, are creating an environment for innovation and opportunities for sustainable nature-based tourism.

In 2017, 18 business-ready opportunities in the State’s parks, gardens and heritage places were released to the market. These opportunities provided scope for the private sector to develop new tourism experiences such as tours, eco sensitive accommodation, cafes, cellar doors or event venues in some of our most special places. Special places are just that. Special. Exclusive and limited.

This workshop will explore the development of the opportunity package, the process and activity to date.

Biography

Chris immigrated to Australia from the UK in 1993 with an honours degree in Marine Geography and a passion for the outdoors. Chris spend his first 10 years working for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority as the Director of Tourism and Recreation before moving to South Australia in 2004 to help set up a network of marine parks. Chris is currently the State Manager for Parks, Partnerships and Nature-based Tourism at the Department for Environment and Water and national chair of the Tourism and Parks Agencies Forum.

Cassandra Wardle

PhD Student, Griffith University

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Abstract

The Conservation Contributions of Ecotourism in Australia: how far we’ve come, and where to from here

Ecotourism is often promoted for the potential to combine social and commercial benefits with environmental protection. While instances to date indicate that it can indeed prove highly successful in some circumstances, the conservation impact of this sector on a larger scale is unclear.

We therefore developed a framework covering over 50 conservation items to evaluate the conservation achievements of individual ecotourism sites, businesses, and programs. We applied this at a national scale to over 80 private tourism enterprises certified with Advanced Ecotourism Certification under Ecotourism Australia.

The extent of conservation activities varied considerably among enterprises. However, our results show that these enterprises make important contributions to national conservation goals. For example, 54 enterprises have established formal protected areas which together make up 8% of the total area of private land in Australia under protected area agreements. The remaining 92% is made up of over 4,000 properties!

As one of the fastest growing tourism segments, ecotourism is a double-edged sword with environmental risks and huge conservation potential. This project (1) demonstrates conservation achievements across eco-certified enterprises; (2) highlights best practice examples; (3) uncovers some of the challenges that limit conservation activities of operators; (4) identifies information, policy, and certification gaps for improvement; and (5) provides a tool for identifying types of actions needed for conservation outcomes. Furthermore, this project provides a foundation to build collaboration among researchers, tourism operators, eco-certification bodies, conservation practitioners, and policy makers to harness the potential of this sector to contribute to state and national conservation goals.

Biography

Cassandra Wardle is a part-time PhD student at Griffith University, part-time Project Coordinator for a Consortium of Queensland Universities & Queensland Government partnership, and full-time research enthusiast.

She has been researching the ‘real world’ linkages between ecotourism and biodiversity conservation, environmental protection, community development, and public policy for eight years.