Eco ‘travel bible’ kudos
THE Douglas region is one of the greenest parts of Australia, according to a “green travel bible” released recently.
The Green Travel Guide Australia 2010/11, put out by EcoTourism Australia and Sustainable Tourism Australia, lists 25 local businesses which have made a commitment to minimising their impact on the environment, roughly a quarter of all green businesses in Queensland.
Of those, six have been recognised as Green Travel Leaders for their efforts over a decade or more.
Many of those businesses are north of the Daintree River, where the lack of mains power has influenced the move towards energy-efficiency and other low-impact practices.
Many operators on the Daintree coast have embraced green practices and see it as the way forward.
“It’s a great thing, the only way for the Daintree,” said Prue Hewett of Cooper Creek Wilderness Lodge, one of the Green Travel Leaders.
“We have to look after the environment and the economy, they go together.
“Although we didn’t have much choice (to go green), it hasn’t been a hardship.”
However, Ms Hewett said there needed to be more marketing to promote the “green shire” as an ecotourism destination.
“We’re busy promoting ’fun in the sun’ but we had 6.5 metres of rain in the last year,” she said.
“We need to diversify our message to promote small-scale eco-tourism.
“More than 90 per cent of the old Douglas shire is World Heritage, and our planning schemes don’t allow intensive development.
“Unfortunately, too many visitors come for a day trip and don’t get to see the real old-growth forest.”
Most tour operators with a longstanding commitment to green tourism believe passionately in their product.
Wavelength pioneered the use of regular moorings to protect the reef and employs qualified marine biologists to teach guests about the reef.
“I guess we’ve been the poster child for eco-tourism,” Wavelength general manager Carolynne Staines said.
“We’ve been doing a lot of these things since before EcoTourism Australia existed.
“When Steve Simpson set up Wavelength, he did it on the basis that if you show and teach people how amazing the reef is, they’re more likely to want to protect and conserve it.”
However, some accredited operators think eco-certification is too easy to get.
“As long as you pay your fee, EcoTourism Australia seems happy to give you a certification,” one operator said.
“There’s a lot more operators that talk the talk than there are who walk the walk.
“It can be discouraging to see other people flout the rules, get reported, shrug their shoulders and carry on as if nothing happened.
“Some ’eco-operators’ don’t even do the basics, like recycle.
“A lot of them sell bottled water. How green is that?”
The Green Travel Guide Australia is available at http://www.ecotourism. org.au/ebook/gtd/.