Eco Tourism needs help
AUSTRALIA’S peak national body for nature-based tourism is calling on all state and territory leaders to lend further financial support to the struggling sector.
In an open letter to government composed this week, Ecotourism Australia claims the country is running the risk of having ecotourism become “low quality” and severely devalued in the eyes of international and domestic tourists, unless they receive a much needed expanded support package.
“In Mar 2020, more than 90% of ECO Certified tourism businesses closed their doors and now, six months later, a third remain closed,” the letter stated.
“Of those who are operating, many are doing so at unsustainable levels.”
The letter also listed a range of demands from governments across the country that it believes is vital to keep the sector alive, these include: ongoing JobKeeper support that includes casual and seasonal workers, an expanded grant system to cover fixed costs, regional, state and national programs that reward businesses for delivering high levels of service, an easing of interstate border restrictions across the board, and mental health counselling for SME tourism operators.
The letter from the peak body is also urging the Federal Government to create a national nature-based tourism strategy.
Ecotourism Australia warned that many of the country’s natural attractions may fail to leverage the volume of tourism interest that it had pre-pandemic unless these demands are met.
“Imagine an Australia without trips to the Great Barrier Reef, guided walks through our National Parks, or tours that allow people to swim in the ocean with dolphins and whale sharks.
“Without increased and ongoing support these experiences could simply disappear or...devalue the Australian brand and reputation.”