Eco Tourism needs help

Travel Daily - - News -

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 dis­ap­pear­value the Aus­tralian brand and rep­u­ta­tion.”

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