Ecotourism out on a limb

SEP 2010

A Tourism Queensland survey engaged a range of tourism operators from across the state to gauge attitudes towards the implementation of environmental practices.

State Tourism Minister Peter Lawlor says the results of the Tourism Operators Environmental Indicators Benchmark 2010 survey showed most businesses are reducing their footprint.

But while 99 per cent of Queensland operators have implemented at least one affordable energy saving, water saving or waste management initiatives, half of those surveyed believed there were not enough benefits or cost savings to justify implementing additional environmental initiatives.

“For example, 88 per cent of businesses surveyed have installed energy saving light bulbs, 69 per cent use energy saving appliances, 64 per cent switch off appliances at the wall and 62 per cent set air conditioners to 24 degrees,” he says.

But only one-in-10 operators surveyed undertook more significant activity and very few said they intended implementing further energy-saving initiatives in the next 12 months.

Over two-thirds of operators surveyed recycle and buy in bulk, but less than half have reduced buying goods with excessive packaging, or are composting and few operators intend to implement further waste management initiatives over the next year.

Parliamentary secretary for tourism Steve Wettenhall says only a few of the businesses surveyed intend to implement significant water saving initiatives in the coming year.

“In drought-prone regions of Queensland, the survey found tourism operators were adopting more significant water-saving initiatives in their businesses than in non-drought affected areas,” says Wettenhall.

“A quarter of the operators surveyed currently have a sustainability policy in place for their business while 18 per cent of tourism operators indicated they planned to developed a sustainability policy in the next year.

“But the majority of survey respondents indicated their customers expected them to be environmentally responsible.”

The TQ-commissioned survey results coincide with Ecotourism Australia’s launch of discussion paper Tourism for Tomorrow 2010-2020, which encourages government and industry to take a long-term view of building a sustainable tourism industry.

Ecotourism Australia CEO Kym Cheatham, says the organisation is showing leadership and invites the Federal Government to partner them in the sustainability push.

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