Certification is the x-factor that gives Australia a distinct, but temporary, advantage over its ecotourism competitors in the Asia Pacific region as the industry starts to flourish.
The most dynamic tourism region in the world, Asia Pacific is embracing ecotourism, and the Global Eco Asia Pacific Tourism Conference being held in Cairns 15 – 17 October, will showcase the key drivers shaping 21st century tourism.
“Australia pioneered and has led ecotourism since the 1990s but this lead is at risk of being overtaken by a rapidly expanding ecotourism industry in the Asia Pacific region,” said Mr Tony Charters convenor of the Global Eco Asia Pacific tourism conference.
“Australia’s world leading certification program will play an important role in holding back the competition.
“Certification, giving consumers faith in the quality of ecotourism products, is the next hurdle for the region.”
Ecotourism has moved on from being a buzzword or niche market.
Consumer appetite for experiences with nature, indigenous cultures and sustainable tourism businesses is gaining momentum, but Australia has stiff competition.
Interacting with elephants in Malaysia, taking in the dramatic landscapes of Mount Huangshan in China or exploring the ancient temples of Siem Reap in Cambodia are just some of the examples of destinations luring high-value travelers from Australia and around the globe.
Established tourism markets from Europe and North America, as well as the emerging middle class across southeast and northern Asia are driving the growth.
“Both governments and industry in the Asia Pacific region are being proactive and innovative in response to consumer demand for ecotourism,” says Mr Charters.
“Showcasing natural wonders is a key priority for government policymakers right across the region, including Indonesia, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, and beyond, however discerning travelers are becoming more
savvy about sustainability, business practices and issues like fair trade.
“Certification covers off on these issues and countries without credible certification programs will lose lucrative markets.
“At the moment Australia has a good grip on this competitive advantage.”
Over 14 Asia Pacific nations will participate in the conference including a landmark Asia-Pacific tourism forum, which will reflect on ecotourism development from the past ten years and its scope for the next ten years.
Ecotourism Australia presents the annual Global Eco Asia Pacific conference to actively foster opportunities for investors and governments to maximise tourism revenue through ecotourism initiatives and partnerships.