Australia’s ecotourism industry has been warned against discounting and told to focus on quality experiences by a leading expert in the field.
Convenor of the Global Eco Asia Pacific Ecotourism conference Tony Charters said Australia has rested on its laurels in the field of ecotourism in recent years, allowing rival destinations to pick up its best ideas and improve on them.
He said: “Arm-wrestling over development in protected areas is strangling ecotourism in Australia. Australia was one of the ecotourism leaders in the ’90s and was especially revered for its innovation in the design and technology of ecolodges.”
“The rest of the world looked up to us. But we have lost our voice and many of our competitors have overpowered us.”
Just two Australian properties are listed in the book Authentic Ecolodges by leading authority Hitesh Mehta – Daintree Eco Lodge and Spa in Far North Queensland and Bay of Fires Lodge in Tasmania.
Charters said funding was needed for tourism facilities such as lookouts, campsites, tracks and trails from both state and federal governments.
He added: “More creative thinking needs to be put into the roadblocks we have over development in protected areas. Governments have the capacity to circumvent community concern by purchasing land adjacent to National Parks for the specific purpose of tourism development.”
“Globally there is a significant and growing appetite for ecotourism and Australia is well placed to capitalize. It is a golden opportunity to turn our tourism deficit around.”