Talks aim to make Cairns No.1 in eco-tourism again
THE Far North and its ecotourism industry have been identified as crucial by the organisers of an international conference aiming to put Australia back at the top of the sector it nurtured 20 years ago.
Cairns is hosting the 20th Global Eco Asian-Pacific Tourism Conference, which will be attended by more than 300 delegates in October.
Four of the region's eco-tourism experiences – the Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruise, Skyrail, Tjapukai Cultural Park and the Daintree Discovery Centre – will be showcased during the three-day event with many of the delegates expected to take organised field trips to the environmental destinations. Convener Tony Charters said Australia took eco-tourism from a concept to a thriving industry in the 1990s but was now "shying away from the term".
"Australia is recognised globally as home to some of the world's most outstanding eco-tourism products and we must ensure continuity across our promotional messages to international visitors," he said.
"We need to make sure that we don't walk away from the term just as the rest of the world discovers it.
"Maybe Australia needs to re-read the book on eco-tourism, the book it wrote in the early 1990s."
Mr Charters said other Asian countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia had accelerated their eco-tourism experiences.
He said the conference would highlight the Far North, which had one of the highest concentrations of eco-tourism operators in the world.
Ecotourism Australia chief executive Kym Cheatham said fortunately the DestinationQ tourism summit held in Cairns last month revealed the State Government's intention to place eco-tourism back in the spotlight with the aim for Queensland to be the No. 1 eco-tourism destination once again.
"When the Global Eco conference commences in Cairns, the State Government will be well on their way to developing a new Queensland eco-tourism plan which will address opportunities to cut red tape and reduce costs for businesses," he said.
"It will be very timely for the eco-tourism industry from Queensland and across Australia to gather in Cairns for the conference at the very location at which this landmark eco-tourism plan was tabled.
"Global Eco will provide an ideal platform for discussions not only around how to reinstate eco-tourism as a top priority in Queensland, but also how Australia can be reinstated as the No. 1 eco-tourism destination worldwide."
The conference is at the Pullman Reef Hotel Casino from October 15-17.
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