“Ecotourism has become one of the fastest-growing sectors of Australia’s tourism industry. Travellers are hungry for sustainable tourism experiences and ECO Destination Certification will give East Gippsland’s nature-based tourism sector and the region a well-earned boost.”
With travel across the state being a favourite pastime in recent years, we’ve come to fall head over heels for charming waterfront villages, Man-from-Snowy-River country and superb beaches in Victoria’s East Gippsland.
With so much to see and so much to love, there’s now even more reason to explore the area with the East Gippsland Shire achieving a significant milestone as it becomes the state’s first certified ECO Destination, receiving the coveted recognition from Ecotourism Australia.
This prestigious certification celebrates the region’s commitment to sustainable practices and the provision of exceptional nature-based tourism experiences.
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The announcement took centre stage at the highly anticipated Inspire East Gippsland Tourism Summit on Thursday 25 May, which drew speakers including Peter Gash OAM from Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort; Rob Pennicott from Pennicott Wilderness Journeys; Leigh Sorensen from Tourism Australia; Felicia Mariani, CEO of Victoria Tourism Industry Council; Terry Robinson, CEO of Destination Gippsland; Kristy Malapa, Industry Development Manager at Tourism Australia; and Ecotourism Australia CEO, Elissa Keenan.
One of the summit’s highlights was an overview of Ecotourism Australia’s Strive 4 Sustainability scorecard, as highlighted by Ms. Keenan – a game-changing pre-certification tool that empowers businesses to embark on their sustainable tourism journey, that may lead to ECO or Sustainable Tourism Certification.
Nestled within the lands of Gunaikurnai, Bidawel and Monero, East Gippsland has long been a draw for nature enthusiasts. The region boasts a treasure trove of world-renowned natural wonders, including the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve of Croajingolong National Park, the culturally significant Buchan Caves, the Alpine High Country, the expansive Gippsland Lakes, and the picturesque Ninety Mile Beach, offering endless stretches of golden sand.
East Gippsland’s achievement of Ecotourism-level certification follows a meticulous independent assessment of 91 rigorous criteria. This certification recognises the region as a nature-based tourism destination committed to the principles of ecotourism, encompassing cultural and natural interpretation and education for visitors, as well as the active involvement of local businesses in sustainable practices.
By securing this significant certification, East Gippsland joins the ranks of six other Australian regions recognised for their commitment to sustainable tourism: Coffs Coast, Central Coast, and the Blue Mountains in New South Wales; Bundaberg and Port Douglas Daintree in Queensland; and Margaret River in Western Australia.
East Gippsland’s pioneering role in this significant certification process was made possible through the support of the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia (WWF). The region was the first of 10 nationwide to participate in the program, benefitting from the Australian Wildlife & Nature Recovery Fund established by WWF-Australia in response to the devastating 2019/20 bushfires. This support sustained the region throughout the initial two years of the program.
Notably, East Gippsland already boasts a selection of ECO certified businesses that uphold the highest standards of sustainable tourism. Among them are Gippsland High Country Tours in Bruthen; Lakes Beachfront Holiday Park in Lake Tyers; and Skipper Pete in Lakes Entrance with ECO Guide accreditation. A further nine local businesses are going through their ECO Certification application process currently and look forward to announcing their certification soon.
Learn more about the latest ECO Destination here.