Boobook Ecotours in Carnarvon National Park, QLD

Getting started on your business certification journey

Embarking on your business certification journey with Ecotourism Australia marks a significant commitment to nature conservation and responsible tourism practices. As the peak body for ecotourism and sustainable tourism, we connect, champion, inspire and inform through strategic partnerships and global best practice standards.

As a trusted authority in sustainable tourism, Ecotourism Australia offers a clear pathway for businesses and operators eager to showcase their dedication to preserving natural environments and fostering eco-conscious experiences.

With globally recognised standards and a comprehensive certification process, aligning with Ecotourism Australia not only elevates your brand but also contributes to the global movement for sustainable travel. Through this partnership, you’re not just obtaining a certification; you’re joining a community dedicated to making a positive impact on both travellers and the planet. Let Ecotourism Australia be your guide as you embark on a journey that not only distinguishes your business but also leaves a lasting legacy of responsible and sustainable tourism.

Why apply ecotourism principles to your business

Ecotourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of the tourism industry worldwide. Ecotourism Australia’s guidelines help businesses lead in ecotourism by ensuring destination sustainability and supporting local communities. By following our best practice standards, you can provide a high-quality, recognizable product to consumers while increasing sustainable development. This approach can cut costs, reduce expenditure, save money, improve your organisation’s image, and help you establish closer connections with local tourism and protected area management organisations.

Our Programs

Hospitality workers behind the bar
strive 4 Sustainability Scorecard

Pathway program for any tourism business to start them on their sustainability journey.

Echidna walking through dry brown grass
ECO Certification

Designed for all nature-based and ecotourism businesses, primarily tours, accommodation, and attractions.

Couple outside Valley Hops Brewing
Sustainable Tourism Certification

Designed for all non-nature-based tourism businesses with a focus on sustainable practices.

Supporting Certification Programs

In addition to the overarching business certification programs, you may like to add a specialty certification program like Respecting Our Culture Certification or Climate Action Certification.

If you are a guide who would like to highlight your sustainable guiding skills, you can apply for Eco Guide Certification.

Ayers Rock Resort Wintjiri Wiru
Respecting Our Culture Certification

Encourages the tourism industry to operate in ways that respect and reinforce Indigenous cultural heritage and the living cultures of Indigenous communities.

Climate Action Certification

Encourages businesses to reduce carbon emissions and ensures they are committed to sustainable practices related to addressing climate change.

Eco Guide Certification

Recognises guides who deliver an authentic, environmentally responsible, and professional experience.

Green Travel Guide Colour Logo

Ecotourism Australia’s online search engine showcasing all our certified tourism operators and destinations.

Each operator receives a free listing with an opportunity to upgrade to a premium listing to maximise their reach.


Click on the frequently asked questions to find your answers. If you still have questions, contact sustainability@ecotourism.org.au

How do I know if I am ready to apply for certification?

Consider the below to help you decide if you are ready for certification.

Does your business:

CARE: The business is looking after the natural environment and reducing their impact on sensitive areas.
DISCOVER: You’re taking guests to discover and explore the world’s best sustainable tourism destinations, iconic locations, and unforgettable natural landscapes
LEARN: Guides and staff offer captivating interpretation and education to guests about the environment they’re experiencing and how to protect it
CONSERVE: They’re making real contributions to the conservation of our environment and wildlife.
REDUCE: You’re reducing your operational emissions and carbon footprint and teaching guests to reduce theirs
PROTECT: You’re leaving no trace, and are protecting our unique wildlife and endangered species
SUPPORT: The business is supporting and engaging their local community and local businesses
RESPECT: Your business is helping to preserve Australian Indigenous cultures and guarantee their stories are shared with respect and sensitivity
EXPERIENCE: Providing an unforgettable quality guest experience and allowing guests to connect with the natural environment

Alternatively, if you have previously completed a Strive for Sustainability Scorecard, scored well in key areas, and feel comfortable to apply for certification, we would encourage you to do so. If you are still unsure speak with your scorecard coach for recommended next steps.

How much does it cost to become certified?

Certification varies based on the certification program and the size of your business. Check the individual certification page for pricing of that program.

How difficult is it to apply for certification? How long should it take?

You will have up to 12 months to complete your application before your next annual fee is due.

How long it takes and how much work is involved in the application process depends on several factors:

  • The size and complexity of your business
  • Hoe far along you are on your sustainability journey
  • Do you have business management documents and procedures already in place?
  • Is there a team of people working on the application or just one person collating all the information
  • Are you able to put time aside to dedicate to your application or do you need to fit it in between all the demands of running your business

The online portal is straightforward and user-friendly. Under the guidance tab, you’ll find information, templates, and examples that serve as great resources. Our coaches are available by phone, email, or Teams meeting to assist you in any way you need.

How long does my certification last?

Once you have attained certification you will be required to pay an annual fee at the beginning of each financial year to retain certification. Every third year an onsite audit (additional cost) will be conducted to ensure you remain committed to the agreed terms of your certification.

Can I apply for more than one certification at the same time?

If you are applying for ECO Certification you can also apply for Respecting Our Culture or Climate Action Certification at the same time. There are additional costs associated with these supporting programs.

What is the difference between the Scorecard and Certification?

The Strive 4 Sustainability Scorecard is a pathway program for any tourism business to start their sustainability journey. It measures where a business or tourism operator is at on their sustainability journey at a point in time.

The scorecard is not a certification or accreditation, but a benchmark with which your business can strive for sustainability. You receive a personalised report detailing the areas you are doing well in and areas for improvement, including practical advice.

If you score 50% or above you will receive a scorecard certificate with your results to display, but you will not receive a dedicated logo to use or have access to, templates or coaching sessions which are exclusive to the certification programs.

What is the difference between ECO Certification and Sustainable Tourism Certification?

ECO Certification was developed to address the need to identify genuine nature and ecotourism operators. It’s designed for tours, accommodations and attractions with a nature focus to their visitor experience. Whereas Sustainable Tourism Certification was designed for all businesses that operate in the tourism supply chain in a non-nature-based space, including hotels, attractions, tours, transport, restaurants, breweries, and more.

What’s the difference between the levels of certification?

There are three levels of ECO Certification and two levels of Sustainable Tourism Certification.

ECO Certification

Nature Tourism – Tourism in natural areas that leaves minimal impact on the environment.

Ecotourism – Tourism in a natural area that focuses on optimal resources use, leaves minimal impact on the environment, and offers interesting ways to learn about the environment with operators that use resources wisely, contribute to conserving the environment and help local communities.

Advanced Tourism – Australia’s leading and most innovative ecotourism products that operate with minimal impact on the environment and provide opportunities to learn about the environment with operators who are committed to achieving best practice, using resources wisely, contributing to conserving the environment and helping local communities.

Sustainable Tourism Certification

Sustainable Tourism – Tourism businesses that minimise negative impacts on the environment and maximise positive impacts for community, culture, and local economy.

Advanced Sustainable Tourism Certification – Industry leaders in best-practice sustainable tourism practices. Businesses that minimise negative impacts on the environment and maximise positive impacts for community, culture, and local economy.


You don’t need to decide which level to apply for straight away. Once you have applied for certification you will get access to all levels in the portal, making it easier to decide as you go through the application process. You can also speak to one of our sustainability specialists who will be happy to guide you.