PORT Douglas Daintree is one five Australian ECO destinations awarded a place in the Top 100 Sustainable Destinations 2020 list announced during the first ever online Global Green Destinations Days (GGDD20) conference this week.

Certified ECO Destination Port Douglas Daintree and four other destinations currently progressing through Ecotourism Australia’s ECO Destination Certification program have been awarded the prestigious accolade. The four progressing ECO Destinations include Lord Howe Island, Townsville, Bay of Plenty (NZ) and Niue Island (Pacific). There currently are 17 destinations in Ecotourism Australia’s program.

These five ECO Destinations are among an impressive list to be included across the world.

The Sustainable Top 100 Destinations competition is organised to showcase sustainable tourism stories and good practices of destinations, as inspiring examples to others, to tour operators and to travellers. The list of five represents the highest number of destinations to be included from the Australia/ Pacific region.

Being recognised among other world leading destinations for their sustainability efforts, all nominating destinations had to provide extensive evidence and be judged by an international team of experts.

Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr said the top 100 recognition is a nod to Douglas Shire’s natural tourism icons and the way our community champions sustainability.

“At a time when we need to cut through a competitive domestic market, this type of recognition is an invaluable marketing tool for our region,” he said.

With the demand for sustainable travel experiences growing worldwide, Ecotourism Australia CEO Rod Hillman said “the ECO Destination Certification program assures travellers that certified destinations are backed by a strong, well-managed commitment to sustainable practices and provide high-quality nature-based tourism experiences within the region.

“We are working closely with destinations across the region to develop our leading ECO Destination Program paving the way for Australia to be recognised as a global leader in fostering responsible, sustainable tourism industry development that is backed up by strong action and a whole-of-destination approach,” Mr Hillman said.

Trina Shepherd, Executive Officer of Lord Howe Island Tourism said “we are so proud to be recognised in the Sustainable Top 100 Destinations and on our way to be getting the big green tick. This gives us even more recognition for all the sustainable practises and conservation projects we have undertaken as a small island. We hope this inspires even more eco-tourism and nature loving visitors to our shores.”

Mayor of Townsville Jenny Hill echoed her support for the region being included. “Being recognised as one of the world’s Sustainable Global Top 100 Destinations is particularly relevant this year, as Covid19 has impacted upon us all.

“Many travel opportunities are gone, and it is a stressful time for business and tourism groups across our region. Hence the honour that Top 100 bestows is a great opportunity for us to make a difference locally, nationally and internationally and build and create new markets” she said.

Penny Spoelder, Senior Associate TRC Tourism who has been contracted to assist Niue achieve their sustainable tourism goals and destination certification with Ecotourism Australia said the destination was thrilled with the news.

“Niue has a clear goal to make tourism sustainable for their culture, the economy, environment and visitors. Niue Tourism and its industry partners have worked hard over the last few years and it is great to see this effort recognised. Earlier this year Niue formalised the Moana Mahu Marine protected area. The size of the zone, relative to the country’s total area, makes it the second largest reserve in the world, after Palau. Now they are in the top 100 and are a great example for other small island destinations.”