July 2nd 2009
“Guilt free” tourism for Magnetic
“When people think of holidaying in Queensland, we want them to feel assured it will be a ‘guilt-free’ experience as far as climate change, carbon footprints or environmental impact are concerned,” was how, State Tourism Minister, Peter Lawlor stated his aim yesterday when he announced that Magnetic Island was to be one of five pilot locations for Tourism Queensland's Sustainable Regions for Queensland project.
Mr Lawlor said the project was the first statewide sustainable tourism project implemented in Australia, aiming to reduce the environmental impact of tourism and encourage visitors to view Magnetic Island, and eventually Queensland, as a sustainable tourism destination.
“Under the Sustainable Regions for Queensland project, Tourism Queensland will work with regional operators to transform Queensland into a domestically and internationally-recognised sustainable tourism destination,” said Mr Lawlor.
While the announcement focusses on a, “sustainable destination” there was no mention however of the 'guilt' associated with the large carbon footprint being produced in tourist travel to our destination. While airlines offer voluntary carbon offset programs some of these are based on questionable practices and promotion of environmentally-beneficial rail use was also not mentioned. The scheme does however link up with the Queensland government's ecoFund which is a broker of carbon offsets intended to expand Queensland’s national parks by 50 percent and expand other conservation areas by approximately eight million hectares by 2020.
When we asked for a clarification of just what “sustainability” means in this context, a spokesperson for the Minister said, “Sustainable tourism involves altering the way tourism organisations operate so as to reduce their environmental impact, whilst maintaining business profitability, meeting visitor expectations and engaging the local community.
Mr Lawlor said Sustainable Regions for Queensland will be carried out in partnership with EC3, ecoBiz, ecoFund, Kleinhardt Sustainability and Eco-Efficiency Group and with regional tourism
About twenty local operators from Magnetic Island are being recruited to, “‘champion’ the project within the region,” said the Minister. Information about how to become sustainable will also be available to all local operators.
A brochure provided to participating operators outlines the businesses' involvement. There are five steps which include joining an 'ecoBiz' programme and then being provided with tourism specific support materials and access to facilitators who assist them to complete key tasks. These include baseline assessments of their business to determine resource use (energy, water and waste assessment); site surveys to determine better eco-efficiency; development of action plans for when and how to implement eco-efficiency opportunities and follow-up baseline assessments.
Benefits to the participants include, a half day workshop/audit with ecoBiz facilitators; resource and cost savings through increased efficiency; increased competitive advantage by integrating environmental practices into the operation and visitor experience.
The other localities involved include: Stradbroke Island, Winton, Airlie Beach, Eungella/Pioneer Valley/Cape Hillsborough.
To add your comment,
or read those of others, see below