THE Bellingen Shire is the latest region to join the push to build Australia's tourism sector back better using sustainability principles.
Joining 20 other destinations around Australia, Bellingen will receive a two-year $30,000 package covering all costs to progress through Ecotourism Australia's ECO Destination Program.
Michael Grieve, Manager of Economic and Business Development at Bellingen Shire Council, says the community drove the decision to join the program.
"The residents of the Shire have given the council a very clear mandate with respect to tourism," he said.
"Bellingen Shire Council places a strong emphasis on tourism management as opposed to tourism marketing.
"Council manages tourism in line with community ideals, which include celebration and protection of our natural environment, respect and acknowledgment for Gumbaynggirr Culture and preservation and recognition of our unique, diverse community and culture."
For visitors, travelling within a certified ECO Destination provides reassurance that the region is backed by a strong, well-managed commitment to sustainable practices and offers high-quality nature-based tourism experiences.
Ecotourism Australia CEO Rod Hillman says that more regions signing up to the program is a sign the industry is moving in the right direction.
"Australia's destinations have been impacted by bushfires, COVID and a host of other natural disasters," he said.
"To rebuild with a focus on the principles of sustainability will not only help these destinations to have long-term economic stability but ensure that any growth in the region is managed with the natural environment, community and culture at the core.
"For the last two years, we have been excited to work in close partnership with WWF-Australia, driving real positive change for our regions and showcasing how the conservation and tourism industries can collaborate for mutual benefit."
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