Australia asks tourists to only use eco-certified tour companies

The green turtle is common in Watamu Marine Park
Image via Wikipedia

Australia‘s marine park authority is encouraging international travellers to use only eco-certified operators when visiting the Great Barrier Reef.

Speaking to e-Travel Blackboard at ATE 2010 yesterday, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Hilary Skeat said two million tourists visit the iconic site each year.

Of those tourists, around 50 percent experience the GBR with operators that have been independently certified by Ecotourism Australia, she said.

However, the marine park authority is trying to encourage more tourists to do the same.

In a partner stand with Ecotourism Australia at ATE this year, it has handed out flyers and fish-shaped stress balls inked with small reminders to visiting international buyers to book with eco-certified operators.

Skeat said that the marine authority also encouraged their own set of best practices on the reef including the use of moorings by marine park vessel operators wherever possible.

“The industry relies on a healthy Great Barrier Reef” she said.

Ecotourism Australia chief executive Kym Cheatham expressed similar sentiments, saying the “whole industry needs to worry about these things.”

Nature is the most compelling aspect of our country. Our natural environment is the main driver for people to come here,” said Cheatham, “We all have a responsibility.”

Ecotourism Australia released earlier this week at ATE 2010 its Green Travel Guide Australia 2010/2011 which features more than 1000 Australian tourism experiences that offer responsible, ethical and sustainable tourism experiences.

“Environmentally responsible travel has huge potential for growth, as increasing numbers of domestic and international travellers choose ‘green’ holiday experiences.

“Ecotourism destinations now attract about 15% of the global tourist market and that number is climbing fast.”

Some 20 percent of tourism businesses exhibiting at ATE 2010 this year are eco-certified.
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