As the Shire of Augusta Margaret River prepares to host Ecotourism Australia’s Global Eco Asia-Pacific Tourism Conference next week from December 1 – 3, the Shire of Augusta Margaret River has furthered its commitment to building a sustainable local tourism industry by applying to become a certified ECO Destination.
The ECO Destination certification program run by Ecotourism Australia is a recognisable, trusted guide for travellers that approves destinations committed to sustainable practices and to quality, nature-based tourism experiences.
If successful, the Shire of Augusta Margaret River will join an established global network of like-minded certified destinations offering visitors an easy way of determining where genuine and authentic ecotourism experiences are found.
Shire of Augusta Margaret River CEO Stephanie Addison-Brown said achieving ECO Destination certification was not about growing the number of tourists coming to the region, but about the type of tourist it will attract.
“This certification will help us effectively promote our region to the increasing proportion of travellers who are hungry for sustainable travel experiences. It’s the stamp of approval that we are who we say we are – an authentic destination for environmentally aware visitors,” she said.
“We know that travellers are becoming more discerning as they seek to holiday in destinations where tourism not only brings visitor spend, but is also a driver for social, cultural and environmental improvement. The Shire has been working extremely hard to improve its environmental footprint and this certification will signal to visitors that we’re not green washing; that any claims we’re making as a Shire are being audited by an official body.
Achieving ECO Destination certification would also reflect the aspirations of many community members, who have told us that sustainability is at the top of their priority list,” she said.
Ecotourism Australia CEO Rod Hillman, who is preparing to arrive in the region for next week’s conference said the Shire was very well positioned to become a certified ECO Destination.
“Throughout the application process so far we have been incredibly impressed by the achievements of the Shire of Augusta Margaret River, supported by the Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association. Compared to other destinations we’ve assessed, the Shire is ahead of the curve in terms of its commitment to sustainability.
The Shire already meets three quarters of the criteria, placing them in good stead as they progress through the rigorous, year-long application process” he said.
MRBTA Joint CEO Steve Harrison welcomed the initiative and acknowledged the benefits accreditation would bring.
“We are pleased to be assisting with the efforts towards ECO destination certification and are very fortunate to be able to work with progressive stakeholders such as the Shire to build a sustainable future for the region’s tourism industry. Certification programs such as this will assist our destination marketing efforts to position the region as a compelling holiday choice for the high-value, low-volume visitor markets which we aim to attract,” he said.
About Ecotourism Australia
Ecotourism Australia (EA) is a not for profit, membership-based organisation inspiring environmentally sustainable and culturally responsible tourism. Internationally recognised through the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, EA designs and delivers certification programs for tourism products and destinations, assuring travellers that these are backed by a strong commitment to sustainability and quality. EA works with international organisation Green Destinations to certify ecotourism destinations in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.
About the Global Eco Asia-Pacific Tourism Conference
For the first time in over ten years, the Margaret River Region will host Ecotourism Australia’s annual Global Eco Asia-Pacific Tourism Conference – the world’s longest running ecotourism conference – from December 1 – 3 2020. Delegates include leading tourism industry operators, ecotourism professionals, tourism bodies and researchers.
MRBTA procured the contract through partnerships with Shire of Augusta Margaret River, Tourism WA, the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions, and the South West Development Commission.
The conference will take place the newly-developed Margaret River Hub of Entertainment Arts and Regional Tourism (HEART).
List of ECO Certified tourism businesses in the Margaret River Region:
Forest Rise Eco Retreat
RAC Busselton Holiday Park
Yelverton Brook Eco Spa Retreat and Conservation Sanctuary
Cape to Cape Explorer Tours
Margaret River Surf School
Margaret River Retreat
Siesta Park Holiday Resort
South West Eco Discoveries
Southern Fire Wellness
Surf N’ Dirt Adventure Tours Margaret River
Walk into Luxury
Whale Watch Western Australia
Margaret River Region Lighthouses
Margaret River Region Caves
Forest Adventures South West
Right Foot Forward WA
Everybody’s Discovery Adventures