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Why Tourism Should Do More for Endangered Species
Why Tourism Should Do More for Endangered Species:
Australian tourism companies face increasing pressure on their natural assets, so one wildlife tour operator is leading the way by turning a negative into a positive
International award-winning tour operator Janine Duffy believes that being pro-active about endangered species and habitats is good for the environment, good for her clients and good for business. Said Ms. Duffy:
“In Australia, most tourism operators rely on some aspect of the natural environment. As an industry we can't hide our heads in the sand and hope environmental problems will go away.
The natural environment is our bread-and-butter, we need it to make a living. The tourism industry is sensitive to negative publicity, so at times when we should raise our collective voice – loudly - we don't.
Take, for example, the threats to the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef: a huge coal mine proposal that will clear-fell 28,000 hectares of native woodland, ship coal through the Great Barrier Reef, and spew enough carbon into the atmosphere every year to cancel out Australia's entire carbon emission reduction scheme. All this at a time when the Great Barrier Reef is suffering the world's biggest coral bleaching event on record. Coral bleaching due to climate change has affected 93% of the reef. Everyone opposes this mine, from community groups, Aboriginal Traditional Owners, fishermen, farmers, and Australia's largest conservation and community-rights NGOs. There has been opposition to this mine from some reef tour operators. But sadly the tourism industry's voice is hard to find on this debate. In contrast, it is very easy to hear voices from the tourism industry debating the truth of coral bleaching and declaring the reef is fine. Its true, we need to protect tourism jobs, but denying facts is not the way to do that. Our collective voice can be loud when it comes to promoting ourselves, so why can't it be just as loud in opposition to forces that damage our environment? My company - Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours – bucks this trend.
We admit publicly, sadly, that wild koalas are declining, but we are determined to do something about it. So when a sand mine was proposed adjacent to the You Yangs, where 200 koalas live, we objected loudly and repeatedly, joining the You Yangs Protection Group, contacting media and government ministers and proposing instead a You Yangs Protection Zone. In addition, we started our own not for profit Koala Clancy Foundation to connect the travel community with landowners to plant trees. The idea is so exciting and different that our upcoming launch on May 4th has attracted travel industry high flyers and celebrities – including Getaway TV Presenter Catriona Rowntree – who all want to do their bit to help our fluffy icon.
Having a positive, pro-active message addressing a known problem inspires travellers, travel agents, in fact everyone in travel."
Any travel company can do the same! Here's Ms. Duffy's advice:
- Identify the environmental issues that concern your team/your clients. A staff meeting and/or a survey of clients is a quick way to do this and has the benefit of helping people to feel involved.
- Brainstorm with your team about solutions – coal-face staff can be a valuable source of knowledge and ideas.
- Start small, but do something asap! Don't lose the momentum. An idea starts small then takes hold, refinements come and bigger ideas grow out of it.
- Don't forget to publicise it to your clients. They want to know they are involved in something good.
To learn more and meet the industry leaders who are saving koalas, register to attend the launch party in Melbourne on Wednesday May 4th at www.koalaclancyfoundation.org.au
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