Queensland Government backs eco-certified tourism destinations

Minister for Tourism, Innovation and Sport and Minister Assisting the Premier on Olympics and Paralympics Sport and Engagement The Honourable Stirling Hinchliffe

The Queensland Government is investing $1 million to further enhance our great lifestyle and position the state as a leader in sustainable tourism by supporting our tourism destinations to gain globally recognised certification.

Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the Eco-certified Tourism Destination Program will provide grants to councils and regional and local tourism organisations to support attainment of either Ecotourism Australia or EarthCheck destination-level certification.

“This program offers grant funding up to $150,000 for activities directly associated with achieving certification.”

Minister Hinchliffe said the destination certification would provide a wide range of benefits including improved sustainable practices, position destinations as low carbon and climate resilient, and be responsive to changing visitor needs.

“The Eco-certified Tourism Destination Program underpins our government’s vision to become a leader in sustainable tourism and will leverage the growth potential in nature-based tourism experiences to support good jobs and deliver better services.

“Most importantly, it supports actions to achieve a Climate Positive Olympics in 2032 and the target of net zero emissions by 2050.

“The program is part of the Palaszczuk Government’s response to the independent Tourism Industry Reference Panel’s final Action Plan titled Towards 2032: Reshaping Queensland’s Visitor Economy to welcome the world.

“In the Towards 2032 plan, the Panel recommended investing now in sustainability measures to avoid the need for expensive intervention and regulation later. It also meets a growing customer demand for low‑impact travel which is fast becoming an expectation.”

Ecotourism Australia Chief Executive Officer Elissa Keenan commended the Queensland Government for its commitment to help more destinations become sustainable.

“We know visitors, now more than ever, are looking for sustainable tourism experiences,” Ms Keenan said.

“We know when regions commit to an ECO Destination Certification process, they are committing to ongoing sustainable practices and continuously improving their actions, the provision of high-quality nature-based experiences in the region, and are focused on improving the environmental, social, cultural and financial outcomes for their local community.”

Mr Stewart Moore, Chief Executive Officer, EarthCheck said: “Certification helps bring all your resources, efforts and data together to measure and track your destination’s health, promote continuous improvement and deliver better outcomes for your residents and visitors.”

Minister Hinchliffe said there was growing momentum around Australia for tourism destinations to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability.

“Port Douglas-Daintree was Australia’s first location to obtain ECO Destination certification and a number of other Queensland destinations including the Scenic Rim, Bundaberg, Cassowary Coast and Townsville are working through the process.”

Grant funding of $50 000 up to $150 000 will be available to cover eligible activity costs associated with the certification process, with no matched funding requirements from applicants.

Program applications will open on 18 August and close on Friday 7 October 2022. Successful applicants are expected to be announced in late 2022.

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