If green is the new black then the Coffs Coast has struck gold becoming NSW’s first and only certified ECO Destination, announced today by Coffs Harbour City Council and Ecotourism Australia.
With Coffs Harbour City Council spearheading the rigorous 14-month certification process, today’s conscious travellers are likely to support the region’s green tick of approval as travel re-opens.
The Coffs Coast’s ECO Destination Certification means the NSW coastal region is not only recognised for preserving its natural beauty, but is also sustainable in terms of giving back to the community and being culturally authentic.
To become an ECO Certified Destination, a minimum of 90 criteria points must be met based on the internationally accredited and recognised Green Destinations Standard comprising of seven main themes including:
· destination management
· nature and scenery
· environment and climate
· culture and tradition
· social wellbeing
· business and hospitality
· ecotourism focused elements
Rod Hillman, CEO at Ecotourism Australia (EA) said: “Ecotourism Australia is very proud to have Coffs Coast join our family of certified ECO Destinations and be the first destination to achieve this status in NSW.”
“This internationally recognised and independently audited certification means the region is demonstrating sustainability principles in how they manage their natural and cultural assets, but it is also about how they support the tourism industry to be sustainable.”
“We are very excited to also welcome three new Coffs Coast ECO certified operators into our collection of existing ECO certified operators and experiences in the region.”
Far North Queensland’s Port Douglas Daintree is the only other Australian certified destination, helping travellers support better tourism for a more sustainable future.
“We live in a stunning region with careful and conscious tourism operators who will now rightfully earn a place amongst the growing number of consumers wanting their travel to support better outcomes for the planet,” said Chris Chapman, Director of Sustainable Communities at Coffs Harbour City Council.
The Coffs Coast is geographically unique as it is the only place in NSW where the Great Dividing Range meets the Pacific Ocean. The region has 13 national parks and many more state forests and reserves that extend from mountainous hinterland through to unspoiled coastline bordering the Solitary Islands Marine Park, the oldest marine park in NSW.
Expert independent auditor Linda Cash says Coffs Council is to be commended for its sustainability planning.
“It’s the first region in NSW to complete the journey to achieve ECO Destination Certification, whilst at the same time ensuring their community, both visitors and residents, have the opportunity to share and embrace the journey,” Cash says.
Awarded by Ecotourism Australia, this program is recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council through Green Destinations. It helps consumers make conscious choices and avoid fake greenwashing, and gives them confidence to spend their tourism dollar supporting sustainability, community, and Indigenous culture.
Coffs Harbour City Council has been supported in their work to gain certification for the destination, thanks to a partnership between Ecotourism Australia and WWF-Australia (World Wildlife Fund for Nature).
Search giant Google also supports this ECO Certification, showcasing the badge on its accommodation listings to help support first-class, nature-based tourism.