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The Tourism Council of WA hosted the 2024 Sustainable Tourism Forum on 27 February.  It was an informative event with great announcements that will support tourism operators who work closely with the environment or seek to improve sustainability within their businesses.

Below is a quick recap of topics covered, some of our key takeaways and where you can find out more information.  We encourage you to access these resources to assist you in your sustainability journey, there is a wealth of valuable information out there.

If there is any way that MRBTA can support your sustainability work, please get in touch with the MRBTA Industry Team and we would be delighted to assist.

Announcement: T-Class Licence Fee Waiver

Environment, Energy and Climate Action Minister Hon Reece Whitby MLA was on hand to announce that, from July 2024, the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions will be waiving the annual $406 T-Class licence charge under a four-year trial.  This fee applies to most commercial operations within National Parks and the waiver will help reduce the cost burden on operators while recognising the high standards of sustainable tourism in national parks.

Media statements:

TCWA:  New Sustainable Tourism Standards for WA Parks

WA Government: Fee waiver to support tourism operators in WA’s national parks

National Sustainability Framework & Toolkit

Sam Palmer, General Manager of Austrade’s Visitor Economy and Client Programs Division, presented the National Sustainability Framework for the Visitor Economy. Launched in November last year, the Framework aims to foster unity across the Visitor Economy and inspire impactful action by providing clear and accessible guidance.

The Framework outlines 4 key pillars and linked actions to guide businesses on their sustainability journey. These are:

Taking a managed approach Implementing environmental and climate action


Respecting culture


Creating positive social impact


Embedding sustainability principles and practices Measuring and reducing greenhouse gas emissions Protecting and preserving cultural assets Creating economic opportunity through jobs and increased business
Measuring business inputs and outputs Minimising water use, avoiding waste Engaging respectfully with and learning from First Nations people Purchasing from and promoting local suppliers
Engaging with employees, suppliers, local communities, First Nations people, and customers to implement sustainability actions Adapting and building resilience to changing climate conditions Respecting First Nations’ people enduring traditional knowledge Delivering an inclusive and equitable workplace
Complying with all applicable legislation Conserving and contributing to biodiversity, Embedding sustainable building design practices sensitive to cultural heritage and the local environment Providing accessible experiences and services to visitors with diverse needs
Communicating sustainability actions and performance honestly Shaping responsible visitor behaviour through storytelling and education Celebrating Australia’s diversity and multicultural communities Maintaining a social licence to operator through community engagement and visitor management strategies

To support businesses embedding these pillars into their operations, Austrade & Earthcheck have released the Sustainable Tourism Toolkit.  The toolkit provides clear and simple advice to help tourism businesses become more sustainable and is also available in a simplified online version (in partnership with

Key resources:

Austrade: National Sustainability Framework for the Visitor Economy (PDF)

Austrade: Sustainable Tourism Toolkit (PDF) | Sustainable Tourism Toolkit (Online)

Sustainable Storytelling

Lauren Caverley, Senior Communications & Sustainability Manager at Tourism Australia talked about the importance of weaving education into your experiences.

Tourism Australia, in partnership with Earthcheck, last year released guides to help tourism and hospitality operators to communicate their sustainability efforts to global audiences effectively.  These guides are aimed at businesses that already have sustainability policies, commitments or action plans in place.

It is a basic framework that covers four steps:

Audiences Ambitions Actions Amplify
Staff: training & policies SMART Sustainability Objectives Measuring progress Telling transparent, authentic stories
Customers: Why, how & the customer journey Articulating your vision Evaluating for authenticity and impact Enabling a culture of storytelling
Industry: Connecting effectively with DMOs & supply chain Extracting a plan from your ambitions Avoiding greenwashing Narratives, content formats and amplification tactics
Storytelling opportunities Storytelling opportunities Transparency, data and honesty Community management

Key resource:

Tourism Australia:  Sustainability Storytelling for Tourism & Hospitality Operators

Keynote: Redefining tourism for the climate era

Amy Carter-James provided the keynote address in which she talked about her experience developing an eco-hotel in Mozambique that worked to share a sense of place and community while providing opportunities for local jobs and benefits.  The project was a leading example in sustainable and regenerative tourism but was devastated by a cyclone.

Driven by that experience, Amy and her team co-founded Raaise, a platform helping startups raise funds for projects that are tackling complex climate issues.

Key takeaways:

  • “Tourism can be the fuel that can drive conservation”
  • Capital and investment are crucial in driving sustainable tourism
  • Reporting on Scope 3 emissions will become inevitable in Australia (it’s already mandatory in the EU) – it’s important for businesses here to get prepared and start monitoring.
  • There are so many brilliant solutions out there to support businesses in their sustainability efforts.

Developing a Sustainable Business

Tourism Council WA CEO, Evan Hall, provided an overview and update on their accreditation programs that are helping the industry develop more sustainable business.  These programs are part of the Australian Tourism Industry Council’s National Quality Tourism Framework and are tailored to support small and medium enterprises to develop and grow.

The Sustainable Tourism Accreditation program has recently been updated to align with the National Sustainability Framework and has increased support for businesses through the Tourism Emissions Reduction program.  The Accessible Tourism program is now offering on-site assessments for a limited time.

Becoming a member of the Tourism Council WA gives you complimentary access to these programs which provide a range of benefits, including:

  • Extensive business support through resources, training, advice, and advocacy.
  • Ability to provide complimentary alcohol without a liquor license.
  • Meet standards for DBCA licences in national parks and protected areas.

Key resources:

TCWA:  Membership

TCWA: Sustainable Tourism Accreditation

TCWA:  Tourism Emissions Reduction Program

TCWA: Accessible Tourism Accreditation

TCWA Tourism Emissions Reduction Program

Ben Daley, CEO and Co-Founder of Emissions Reduction Collective Australia, provided further detail on the  Tourism Emissions Reduction Program.  By signing up for TCWA’s Sustainable Tourism Accreditation, you unlock access to the TER program and you’ll receive extensive support to assess and reduce your emissions through five simple stages – some of which you might already be doing!

  • Commit: Make a start by estimating your carbon emissions. It’s that easy!
  • Reduce: Adjust your operations and start cutting emissions, straight away!
  • Avoid: Stop using carbon-producing technologies and processes to get your energy.
  • Support: Sponsor projects that cut emissions you can’t stop making.
  • Sustain: Keep going! Maintain your progress in the medium and long term.

There is a range of support options to suit you and your team to understand your emissions and achieve your reduction goals including: how to videos, regular webinars and 1-1 online meetings.

Key resource:

TCWA:  Tourism Emissions Reduction Program

Tourism Business Sustainability Case studies

The Forum concluded with presentations from WA tourism operators leading in sustainability – Oranje Tractor Wines, and MRBTA members, Tree Chalets!

Key takeaways:

  • Sustainability is mandatory:
    • “It’s not a choice to run our business this way” – Tree Chalets
    • “I’m not in charge – I need to get out of the way of nature” – Oranje Tractor Wines
  • The connections between localism, climate and your supply chain.