Brolgas, Boulia, QLD

Advocacy & Peak Body

Ecotourism Australia is at the forefront of global standards in eco and sustainable tourism. We are proud to represent the Australia Pacific region in international forums, working groups and networks, contributing to continuous standard improvement, education and awareness about responsible travel and promoting the efforts of the Australian tourism industry in sustainability and ecotourism.

International engagement and collaboration

We collaborate with leading sustainable tourism certifying bodies globally, which have developed internationally accepted sustainability criteria over the past 30 years. These criteria constitute the industry-standard for sustainable tourism. Ecotourism Australia, Green Key, Green Globe, Green Key Global, Green Destinations, Travelife for Accommodation, Travelife for Tour Operators, Biosphere, Good Travel Seal, and TourCert are dedicated to collaborating to continuously improve sustainable performance across all sectors of the travel and tourism industry. Our goal is to ensure that our professional services are provided fairly, affordably, and remain accessible to all businesses in the industry.

Ecotourism Australia contributes to international discussions on and implementation of best practices through the Tourism Impact Alliance, an international panel of globally recognised certification bodies, to discuss the ongoing development and improvement of sustainable certification standards. Through our partnership with Green Destinations, we are invited to judge the annual Green Destinations Top 100 Story Awards before winners are presented at ITB in Berlin. We retain links with the Asian Ecotourism Network which connects responsible tourism, conservation, and communities across the Asia Pacific region.

We actively engage with the Australian government in international programs, collaborating closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to advance sustainable tourism initiatives.  Recently we presented on socio-cultural sustainability in tourism at the 61st Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation working group meeting, showcasing successful Australian case studies and our commitment to promoting sustainable tourism practices globally; and delivered a session to government representatives in the tourism sector from Ho Chi Minh City, focusing on sustainable tourism, destination development, and management, furthering our mission to advocate for responsible tourism practices worldwide.

National and State engagement and advocacy

Ecotourism Australia is recognised in the Australian Government’s national tourism strategy, THRIVE 2030: the Reimagined Visitor Economy.

Re-released in March 2023, THRIVE 2030 is Australia’s national strategy for sustainable growth of the visitor economy and is positioned in the broader policy context. THRIVE 2030 sets a target of sustainably growing visitor expenditure to $230 billion by 2030 and it includes actions for government and industry under three key themes: Collaborate, Modernise and Diversify.

The Strategy has a heightened focus on sustainability issues and formal recognition of Ecotourism Australia’s Programs and Certifications. Under priority 4 “Embracing leading edge business practices”, our Certification program and our pre-certification benchmark tool for industry (Strive 4 Sustainability Scorecard program) are recognised as a key priority action in building the industry’s sustainability capability and helping deliver high quality experiences to visitors. The recognition of the scorecard as a pathway to certification for all businesses starting their sustainability journey in THRIVE 2030 reinforces the value of a sustainability pathway and supporting operators to achieve full certification.

Ecotourism Australia’s Respecting Our Culture (ROC) Certification was also acknowledged under Priority 7 “Grow unique and high-quality products, including First Nations experiences”. These outcomes solidify the importance of sustainable and regenerative tourism in the Australian visitor economy and policy direction.

In addition to supporting THRIVE 2030, Ecotourism Australia has provided essential input to the Austrade Visitor Economy Diversification Strategy that seeks to build a more resilient visitor economy by attracting a diverse range of visitors from varied market segments. While the strategy is still in draft, our feedback will inform its development and underscore the specific challenges and opportunities for the sustainable and ecotourism industry.

Ecotourism Australia and other peak bodies are working with Governments and industry to make the Australian visitor economy more sustainable and ensure its future success. The Australian Government have created the National Sustainability Framework which sets out a common understanding and vision for sustainable tourism in Australia. We are pleased to see a nationally agreed approach to sustainability.

As part of this framework Austrade has launched an extensive Sustainability Tourism Toolkit, featuring a comprehensive guide to assist tourism businesses in enhancing their sustainability practices. Ecotourism Australia had offered valuable insights that informed the toolkit’s development and have been a supporter in bringing this key tool to industry.

We attend and contribute to various Federal Government roundtable meetings on the current state and future of the tourism industry with the Minister for Trade and Tourism, Senator the Hon. Don Farrell, Austrade, and other peak body associations. These forums enable Ecotourism Australia to ensure sustainability remains at the forefront of government policy considerations and support for the industry.   

We participated in the Austrade “Sustainability Dialogue” Forum in Canberra, invited by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade). This forum, focusing on Respecting Nature, the Push for Net Zero, and Accelerating Action, aimed to shape the goals and priorities of the National Sustainability Framework for the visitor economy. Insights from these discussions will guide actions for Phase 2 (2025-2027) of THRIVE 2030, our national visitor economy strategy.

Ecotourism Australia remains in consultation with the Australian Government to emphasise the significance of eco and sustainable tourism and to validate credible certifications achieved by our operators and destinations.

We have also worked with the government to address issues impacting the sector, including changes to agritourism legislation, the 2022 foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, insurance challenges, and labour shortages, as well as opportunities to support further education, awareness, and capacity building in sustainability for tourism operators across the visitor economy. Through regular engagement with Austrade, other peak industry bodies, and industry associations across Australia, we continue to seek ways to collaboratively address key industry issues and opportunities and advocate for sustainable and ecotourism.

Contributions to Policy Development and Advisory Committees

Ecotourism Australia is recognised in the Australian Government’s national tourism strategy, THRIVE 2030: the Reimagined Visitor Economy.

In addition to participating in roundtables and collaborations, we provide feedback and insights to support the development of several key federal and state strategies, and we sit on numerous advisory and consultation committees, including:

  • Re-released THRIVE 2030 Strategy
  • Federal Inquiry into Australia’s Tourism and International Education Sectors
  • Climate Ready Australia 2030
  • Sustainable Ocean Plan
  • Austrade Discussion Paper: International Diversification Strategy for the Visitor Economy • Australian Government Jobs and Skills Summit and associated outcomes
  • Parks Australia management plans for Christmas Islands and Cocos (Keeling) Islands Marine Parks
  • Sustainable Tourism Advisory Committee
  • Tourism and Parks Agencies Forum (TAPAF)
  • Queensland Tourism and Conservation Alliance
  • Murray-Darling Basin Peak Groups
  • Environmental Biosecurity Advisory Group (EBAG)
  • South Australian Tourism Commission Sustainable Tourism Plan (still to be released)
  • Queensland Towards 2030 Strategy
  • Tourism NT Sustainable Tourism Toolkit
  • QTIC Associations Council
  • Geotourism Forum

Tourism and Parks Forum (TAPAF)

We continue to provide executive services to the Tourism and Parks Agencies Forum (TAPAF) which invites state tourism organisations and state and federal parks agencies to meet quarterly. TAPAF is an important initiative to support growth of responsible tourism and appropriate use of national parks in Australia’s protected areas and enables participants to collaborate on a national level.

Sustainable Ocean Plan

The Sustainable Ocean Plan by the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water will identify a long-term vision for the health of Australia’s oceans and is developed in collaboration with ocean stakeholders including governments, First Nations peoples and industry. Consultation is still ongoing for this Plan, and we have provided feedback throughout development and highlight the need for consistent sustainable tourism practices amongst marine operators.

Indian Ocean Territory Marine Parks

Ecotourism Australia, in collaboration with the University of Queensland and Christmas Island Tourism, is partnering with Parks Australia to drive sustainability and bolster the local economy in the Indian Ocean Territories. Our mission is to foster world-class ecotourism that not only adheres to global standards but also enhances the resilience of natural environments and the economic stability of Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands. By promoting sustainable business practices through support and industry development programs, we aim to ensure long-term ecological and economic health.

This initiative, supported by the Indian Ocean Territory Marine Parks Grant, includes on-island consultations, education and training workshops, a Christmas island Sustainability Toolkit and free access for businesses and operators to complete the Strive 4 Sustainability Scorecard. Our efforts are designed to equip local operators with the tools and knowledge needed to embark on their sustainability journey, reinforcing the importance of ecotourism for both environmental and economic sustainability.

Murray-Darling Basin

Ecotourism Australia represents tourism interests on the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s environment and tourism advisory group and relevant roundtables. We recognise that tourism is an increasingly significant part of the economy for the sustainable use of the Murray-Darling Basin. We continue to support tourism businesses in the region to operate more sustainably and advocate for government agencies to include reward and incentive programs in their licensing systems, similar to those of other federal government authorities like the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Climate Ready Australia

Ecotourism Australia regularly participates in the Climate Ready Australia 2030 Alliance – an interdisciplinary initiative bringing together partners from across society to develop the shared agenda, investment plan and national capability needed to drive climate action in Australia. Ecotourism Australia is committed to working with the alliance of peak bodies involved in the initiative to deliver tangible climate ready projects and solutions to advance climate action, mitigate climate risks, improve resilience to climate change, and maximise benefits to Australian society, the environment and economy.

As part of the Climate Ready alliance, we supported the development of tools including infographics to help businesses better understand the climate policy landscape and which carbon emissions monitoring tools and systems may be suitable for their use. Our role is ensuring the process of emissions tracking and reporting is accessible and understandable for tourism operators to undertake. The tourism industry, and particularly nature-based tourism, is reliant on the environment to operate and our participation in Climate Ready Australia 2030 is helping to ensure the environment, communities and economy are more resilient to the impacts of climate change and can sustain tourism well into the future.

Queensland Tourism and Conservation Alliance

Ecotourism Australia is a founding and leading member of the Queensland Tourism and Conservation Alliance. Established in 2022 it is a collaboration between Ecotourism Australia, the Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC), National Parks Association of Queensland (NPAQ), Queensland Conservation Council, Queensland First Nations Tourism Council and Pew Charitable Trusts. The Alliance advocates for expanding Queensland’s protected areas and is bringing tourism and conservation together to grow a strong sustainable nature-based tourism industry in the lead up to the 2032 Brisbane Olympic and Paralympic Games and beyond.

Tourism Industry Association Councils

Ecotourism Australia is a member of several state-based industry collaborations and organisations where we advocate for sustainability within the tourism industry. We are an integral member of QTIC’s Associations Council, which is helping to collaboratively drive forward the state’s tourism industry. Our participation in the QTIC Associations Network connects us into discussions on tourism recovery and wider industry support.

We also work in partnership with the Victorian Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) to ensure support for tourism operators with our objective to collaborate and partner with other Associations to improve support for and minimise duplication of effort for our tourism operators.

Certification Recognition

Ecotourism Australia is working with national and state-based tourism entities to promote and recognise the value of ECO and Sustainable certification, including for tourism awards; and industry awards including the annual Banksia Awards for Sustainability.


2024 Australia Tourism Awards winners include:






2024 Banksia Awards winners Include:


  • Wild Adventures Melbourne (WAM) – (Advanced Ecotourism & Climate Action Certified)
  • Fun over 50 Holidays – (Advanced Ecotourism, ROC & Climate Action Certified + Green travel Leader)
  • Busselton Jetty – (Advanced Ecotourism & Climate Action Certified + Green travel Leader)


We are also working with industry associations including Strive 4 Sustainability Scorecard Distribution Partner, ATDW, and Key Enablement Partner, Big Red Group, to make it easier for consumers to identify verified sustainable operators.