OPINION: Ecotourism – how green is green?
AS NATURE takes its rightful place at the centre of the Sunshine Coast's tourism market, we're faced with some important questions.
What makes a tour an "ecotour"?
Holidaymakers love the accessibility of the Coast's natural environment, and they flock here because of it.
But not every tourist is here to trek through national parks, eat vegetarian food and get around on bicycles.
People want jet skis, speedboats and luxury accommodation. They want to drive 4x4s over the dunes and camp on the beach. They want to use nature, not just look at it.
Naturally, we have businesses to cater for all these desires.
As the Coast's tourism image comes to focus more on nature (and it will, through the Australia's Nature Coast campaign and other developments) tourism businesses will need to find their place on this continuum and market it accurately.
How green are you? How green do your customers want you to be?
Certification systems such as that run by EcoTourism Australia may have a very important role in helping the Coast's tourism operators navigate this territory.
The scheme defines a tourism venture as either Nature Tourism, EcoTourism or Advanced EcoTourism.
It's critically important for the integrity of nature-based tourism on the Coast that operators work out where they fit.