Global Eco Asia-Pacific Tourism Conference 

The Global Eco Asia-Pacific Tourism Conference was this year held in Margaret River, WA.  Luckily for us, Bundaberg Regional Council was one of five Councils that invested in having a satellite node, and we were able to tune in to the live conference on the big screen from the Bundaberg Multiplex.  Personally, this was perfect for me, as I was able to come and go to fit in the conference content around other work commitments. 

The annual conference is an opportunity to hear about leading practices in eco and sustainable tourism, conservation, protected area management, planning and development, marketing, Indigenous and community engagement, sustainable destination management and climate action.  I’m pleased to share with you some of my biggest take-outs for the sessions ….

Adele from Deloittes, hit home with the numbers for the economy, if Australia goes unchecked on climate change.  The cost of doing nothing, truly does come at a huge cost, with an estimated $3.4 trillion of the economy down and 880,000 jobs lost by 2070 if we don’t make drastic changes.  Climate change damage will impact how land is used, how people work and how money is spent in the economy, reinforcing that climate change is no longer an economic scenario, it is a baseline to make all future decisions. The world is changing, what are we doing in the Bundaberg region to keep up and remain competitive as a region?

I was also moved by Geoff from Intrepid Travel, with such an incredible business ethos, striving to be not best in the world, but best for the world.  He also focused on Climate Change as the greatest, long-term risk facing tourism and conservation. And encouraged the audience that this year needs to be thought of as a catalyst for change, with the opportunity for tourism to lead by example, as we re-define what normal means.  This presentation from Geoff was really thought-provoking for me, as I scribbled away in my notes ideas on what we can do as an organisation first, and then how we can support businesses with tips on decarbonising their practises and also work with Council, through our mission to ECO destination status, in educating the community. Change starts from within.   

And the inspiring session on Indigenous ecotourism, with First Nations operators from around Australia talk about their desire to share their stories with the world through tourism, an opportunity for truth telling, where it’s not just about what the visitor takes away in their head, but what they’re taking away in their heart after a cultural tour experience.

We know that travellers are becoming more discerning as they seek to holiday in destinations where tourism not only brings visitor spend, but is also a driver for social, cultural and environmental improvement.  What do you think needs to shift in Bundaberg to truly offer transformational experiences to visitors that drive change?

Yours in tourism,

Katherine Reid, CEO