Capricorn Coast a step closer to achieving ECO Destination Accreditation!

After a two year journey, Livingstone (Capricorn Coast) Shire Council and Capricorn Enterprise welcomed independent auditors to review the Capricorn Coast ECO Destination application.

The independent auditor appointed by Ecotourism Australia conducted an onsite audit over three days, meeting with a number of key Council representatives, proudly hosted by Ecotourism Project Officer Amy Druery, as well as meeting most of our Eco Tourism Accredited operators, proudly hosted by Eloise Chaffers from Capricorn Enterprise.

Our current Eco Tourism Accredited operators are Capricorn Caves, Pumpkin Island, High Valley Dawn Permaculture Farm, Keppel Dive, Freedom Fast Cats and Coral Inn Boutique. Great Keppel Island Hideaway is nearing completion of their Eco Tourism application. Capricorn Enterprise has been proud to make a significant contribution to the preparation of the ECO Destination certification application made by Council and continues to strive to help the Capricorn Coast achieve this incredibly important milestone.  It was so pleasing to hear the independent Auditor was extremely impressed by a strong community demonstrating collaboration.

The Capricorn Coast needs to be certified by 30 June 2024 to satisfy the requirements of the grant Livingstone Shire Council secured from the Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport (DITIS) in late 2022. There are three levels of destination certification, being Nature Destination, Ecotourism Destination and Advanced Ecotourism Destination. Whilst we are currently seeking certification at the Ecotourism level, we have also addressed eight (8) of the nine (9) Advanced Ecotourism Criteria, in an effort to measure our practices against the highest level of sustainable tourism practices, positioning us to work toward seeking Advanced Ecotourism certification in the future.

There are approximately 100 criteria to be met across a broad range of areas, including Destination Management, Nature and Scenery, Environment and Climate, Culture and Tradition, Social Well-being, Business and Communication and Ecotourism product development.

The Capricorn Coast already has a well-developed nature based tourism offering and our strengths across the above mentioned areas include:

– transparency and community involvement in planning, both community and tourism related
– accessibility and visitor behaviour at sensitive sites
– health and safety prevention
– respectful and accurate promotion of local products and services
– community contribution to sustainability initiatives and volunteering opportunities
– general nature protection, wildlife protection and pest animal/plant control including biodiversity strategy and practices
– cultural heritage conservation
– light and noise pollution minimisation
– land use and planning
– human rights protection
– strong working relations between Livingstone Shire Council and Capricorn Enterprise
– supporting local entrepreneurs and promoting local employment in tourism
– risk and crisis management
Throughout the application process, Council has identified some key elements requiring further development of our documents and/or practices in line with sustainable destination management best practice:

– setting greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for public and tourism sectors
– provision of public electric vehicle chargers and promotion of other low emission transport options
– strategies and/or incentives to encourage the reduction of energy consumption for the public and tourism sector
– setting specific waste reduction goals and recycling goals for the local government area
– increasing awareness about food waste and organics disposal in the public and tourism sector
– taking action to address methane emission from landfill, such as gas flaring
– adoption of a Tourism Impact Assessment procedure to monitor and manage the impacts from tourism on the environment, culture and social factors
– the inclusion of protected areas managers (QPWS & GBRMPA) in tourism decision making
– further enhancement of visitor satisfaction monitoring, specifically regarding satisfaction with the region’s sustainability practices
– coordination of public transport to increase use by community members and visitors
– weaving the four pillars of sustainability into tourism planning, marketing and visitor management

Council will receive an audit report from Ecotourism Australia within the next fortnight and will be required to action any Corrective Actions identified during the on-site visit.

Capricorn Enterprise sincerely congratulates Amy Druery, Ecotourism Project Officer, who has been contracted for two years to complete this work, thanks to the DITIS grant received in late 2022.

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