Townsville region achieves globally recognised tourism sustainability certification

by | Apr 19, 2024 | Article


The Townsville region has met globally recognised sustainability standards to achieve ECO Destination Certification at the Nature Tourism level with Ecotourism Australia.

Townsville is the third destination in Queensland and the ninth in Australia to become an ECO Destination, solidifying the region as a leader in sustainable ecotourism.

It was funded to achieve the certification under the Queensland Government’s Eco-certified Tourism Destination Program which provided grants to councils and regional and local tourism organisations to support attainment of the high level ECO Destination Certification.

Situated at the doorstep of two World Heritage Areas, the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics, Townsville is a hub for iconic nature-based tourism experiences. The region boasts an incredible percentage of protected natural areas with 82 percent of its surface area managed to foster thriving natural values. Townsville region is also home to the popular tourist destination, Magnetic Island, and the internationally important Bowling Green Bay Ramsar Wetland.

“Ecotourism Australia is pleased to award ECO Destination Certification to the Townsville region,” said Ecotourism Australia Head of Destinations and Member Services, Ms Alyssa Sanders.

“Being adjacent to such remarkable environmentally and culturally significant natural wonders, it is important for, and indeed a responsibility of, the local tourism industry and all who visit and reside in Townsville to adhere to strong sustainability principles.

“Townsville’s ECO Destination Certification not only inspires tourism businesses to implement responsible practices and achieve formal recognition, it also helps communicate expectations to tourists, and enhances visitor and community engagement with local sustainability initiatives.”

The region is committed to boosting the sustainability of its tourism product and eight local businesses are Certified through Ecotourism Australia’s globally recognised business programs. One of Townsville’s top attractions, Billabong Sanctuary, holds Advanced Ecotourism Certification and is part of Ecotourism Australia’s Hall of Fame for more than 20 years of continuous ECO Certification. Additionally, Townsville City Council operates the Advanced Ecotourism Certified Eco Catchment Tours, providing educational and interactive tours to enhance the local community’s connection to the area’s diverse land- and coastal-scapes.

The Certification application was led by Townsville City Council with collaboration from key stakeholders including Townsville Enterprise Limited, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

The Council’s commitment to their community in achieving a sustainability-driven future for tourism has been clear throughout the application process.

Townsville Mayor Troy Thompson said he was proud to see the region achieve ECO Destination recognition from Ecotourism Australia.

“Council is incredibly proud to have worked with Ecotourism Australia, Townsville Enterprise and our other key stakeholders to secure ECO Destination Certification for our city,” Cr Thompson said.

“As a Council we are continuously working to enhance our existing tourism offerings and creating new landmark tourism destinations, capitalising on our city’s position between the rainforest, wetlands and the Great Barrier Reef.

“We are thrilled to have achieved ECO Destination Certification and are looking forward to seeing how tourism and hospitality businesses across Townsville go the extra mile to showcase our city well into the future.”

Townsville Enterprise Limited Director of Visitor Economy and Marketing, Lisa Woolfe, congratulates Townsville City Council on the collaborative approach to securing this globally recognised sustainability certification for the city.

“With more than 76% of people wanting to travel sustainability, today’s announcement demonstrates Townsville’s credibility on a global scale to meet current and future visitor demand.”

“Townsville Enterprise is proud to have built our region’s destination brand “Townsville North Queensland – Up for Unexpected” to not only drivesustainable visitor growth but has also provided a strong foundation of research that supported the accreditation process.”

“We acknowledge the significant efforts from our eight Ecotourism certified operators who have heralded this title for a number of years, and continue to pave the way for the rest of our tourism industry.”

“Our region has always been at the forefront of sustainable industries, eco-tourism along with our strengths and potential in renewable energy, positions Townsville North Queensland as Australia’s most liveable green city.”

Queensland is transitioning towards a sustainable visitor economy, with a vision to be recognised as a global leader in sustainability and ecotourism.

Tourism and Events Queensland CEO, Patricia O’Callaghan said that this is a major milestone reached for the region and Queensland.

“Congratulations to the Townsville region on this wonderful achievement.

“The region is a nature-based tourism hub with two World Heritage Areas, the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics as it’s backyard.

“This is the third destination in Queensland to become ECO Certified and it’s a testament to the dedication of the region to increase their formal sustainability credentials.

“Queensland is proud to have the most ECO Certified tourism businesses in Australia, which underscores our industry’s dedication to environmentally responsible management of our stunning natural resources, while also providing visitors from across the globe the opportunity to immerse themselves in the beauty of Queensland.”

Townsville City Council was a recipient of the Queensland Government Department of Tourism and Sport’s Eco-Certified Tourism Destination Grant in 2022 to expand their destination sustainability certification.

Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said this certification helped bring even more eyes to the great tourism experiences in the region like Magnetic Island.

“The Queensland Government is working to position Queensland and our tourism destinations as leaders in sustainable tourism.

“It is great to see Townsville has achieved ECO Destination Certification under the program which provided up to $150 000 to eligible applicants to achieve certification.

“In line with Towards Tourism 2032 this program will help our tourism destinations meet a growing demand from tourists for the places they visit to prioritise low impact travel, a high quality nature based experiences and an ongoing commitment to sustainability.”

ECO Destination Certification at Nature Tourism level assesses 81 criteria centred on the four pillars of sustainability: sustainable management, environmental, socio-economic and cultural. The Certification is adapted from the Green Destinations standard, which is recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. By becoming an ECO Destination, Townsville joins a network of more than 200 international destinations promoting sustainable management, responsible tourism, and positive socio-economic, environmental and cultural impacts.

Ecotourism Australia’s Head of Destinations, Alyssa Sanders, is in Townsville today at the ECO Destination Certification Announcement event to award Townsville City Council with their official certificate and present to key stakeholders.

Learn more about ECO Destination Townsville on the Green Travel Guide: https://www.greentravelguide.org/destination/townsville




Media Contact:

Ecotourism Australia: Georgie Snare, Communications and Events Officer, (e): georgie@ecotourism.org.au (ph): 07 3256 6777

Townsville City Council: Danaella Wivell, Senior Media Officer – Community Engagement, (e): danaella.wivell@townsville.qld.gov.au (ph): 07 4417 5108 (m): 0409 264 974

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