Great Ocean Road signs up for sustainable certification
THE Great Ocean Road is one of three Australian regions now supported by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to work towards achieving internationally-recognised ECO Destination Certification.
The certification recognises that the particular region or destination has a strong, well-managed commitment to sustainable practices and provides high-quality nature-based tourism experiences.
There are only 16 other destinations across Australia (plus Niue Island and New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty) in the program run by Ecotourism Australia, with Mount Hotham and East Gippsland the only other destinations in Victoria.
The Great Ocean Road will be supported by WWF Australia with a two-year $30,000 package that covers all costs to progress through the ECO Destination program.
The Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority (GORCAPA) says the ECO Destination certification will provide a framework for the new authority to protect, conserve and rehabilitate the region’s natural assets and also determine policy directions and infrastructure development for the future of the region.
“We decided to start the journey to become an ECO Destination as the process will support us to assess existing practices and develop a plan to achieve responsible tourism for the Great Ocean Road region,” GORCAPA chief executive officer Jodie Sizer said.
“We are eager to partner with Traditional Owners, local government, fellow land managers and the tourism sector to ensure the Great Ocean Road is a strong, well-managed destination that offers high quality experiences while protecting the remarkable natural and cultural values of the region.”
The two other destinations announced last week to join the program are Barrington Coast and Bellingen Shire, both in New South Wales.
Ecotourism Australia chief executive officer Rod Hillman said the newest additions were a sign the tourism industry was moving in the right direction.
“Australia’s destinations have been impacted by bushfires, COVID and a host of other natural disasters,” Mr Hillman said.
“To rebuild with a focus on the principles of sustainability will not only help these destinations to have long-term economic stability but ensure that any growth in the region is managed with the natural environment, community and culture at the core.”
WWF Australia chief executive officer Dermot O’Gorman said communities that relied on tourism were hurting, but there would be travellers hungry for sustainable tourism experiences once COVID-19 restrictions eased.
“We hope this growing partnership with Ecotourism Australia will lead the charge in helping Australia’s nature-based tourism sector get back on its feet and support attractions that are good for people and nature,” Mr O’Gorman said.