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Ecotourism Australia Response to State of the Environment Report

by | Jul 21, 2022 | Article

Key Messages Overview:

  • The State of the Environment report describes the majority of Australia’s environment as being “poor and deteriorating,” a devastating outcome. Ecosystems on the brink of collapse, and the list of threatened species continuing to grow is something that should concern every Australian.
  • Nature-based tourism is at the core of ecotourism. Wildlife protection, carbon emission reduction and environmental harm reduction are key to ensuring the success of the industry.
  • Tourism operators, and in particular ecotourism operators, are directly impacted by the significant weather events resulting from climate change, and indeed as these events happen more frequently and with more ferocity, the impact on tourism continues to be significant.
  • Ecotourism Australia will continue to advocate for the Federal Government to introduce its framework to restore and future-proof our natural environment.

The State of the Environment report, issued this week by the Minister for the Environment and Water, Hon Tanya Plibersek, describes the majority of Australia’s environment as being “poor and deteriorating,” a devastating outcome for the tourism industry and the broader Australian community.

“To read a report stating that so many ecosystems are now on the brink of collapse and that the list of threatened species has grown and is expected to grow further is something that should concern every Australian,” said Elissa Keenan, Chief Executive of Ecotourism Australia.

“The new federal government has made considerable commitments to support both critical environmental recovery initiatives and tourism industry recovery. There must be a clear, intense, and demonstrable focus on turning these commitments into outcomes and it must be now.”

Ecotourism Australia welcomes the Federal government’s recognition that a framework to deliver on holistic environmental management to integrate legislative systems across state and federal government and identify models for innovative environmental management and financing.

“There has never been a more urgent time than now for us to act. Our natural environment is critical to Australians and our way of life and should be protected for every generation of future Australians,” said Ms Keenan.

“It is also a key attraction for people around the world. Visitors come to Australia for our environment, our wildlife, to enjoy national parks, reefs, rainforests and deserts. If our wildlife and natural environment are in trouble, so too is Australia’s overall outlook.”

We must also acknowledge the gap in recognising Australia’s Indigenous peoples’ rights to land management and care for Country. We strongly support reform in this area to improve land management options for Indigenous Australians and therefore improve environmental sustainability.

Ecotourism Australia advocates for the natural environment, national parks and marine environment tourism operators, who adhere to international best practice sustainability standards which means minimum negative impact on the environment and maximum positive impact on communities and culture.

“When visitors experience the natural environment in an authentic and responsible way, we know it can have a transformative impact on travellers leading to more appreciation and respect for the natural environment and bringing attention to conservation issues.

“There is a growing demand for nature-based, sustainable and responsible tourism products and experiences. There are clear economic benefits from ecotourism activities for local communities and their broader regions, particularly in regional and rural Australia.”

Without urgent action to support and protect Australia’s natural environment, there will be a clear and direct impact on the tourism industry.

Tourism operators, and in particular ecotourism operators, are directly impacted by the significant weather events resulting from climate change, and indeed as these events happen more frequently and with more ferocity, the impact on tourism continues to be significant.

“We have a strong and possibly once in a multi-generation opportunity to effectively manage tourism in a sustainable and viable way both for now and to conserve into the future – but we can only do this with the absolute commitment and action by Australians to protect our natural environment that both domestic and international tourists value so highly,” Ms Keenan said.

We want to see more regions make a long-term commitment to sustainability. We are proud to deliver the ECO Destination Certification program, a globally recognised certification that certifies a commitment to continuous improvement of sustainability. Currently, 19 Australian and South Pacific destinations are working towards global best practice sustainability.

–Ends–

 

Media contact: Chief Executive Officer Elissa Keenan, 07 3256 6777

Cover image: Lake Ballard, Kalgoorlie & Goldfields, WA. Tourism Western Australia.

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