Departmental Bulletin Paper Social Reflections on the Ecocertification process and Protected Areas of Australia

Sonya Underdahl

 Ecocertification in Australia began with the implementation of the world’s first National Ecotourism Accreditation Program(NEAP) in 1996 as a result of stakeholders and social pressures. It was a joint product of government, Protected Area Managers, tourism stakeholders, academics, and Australian society. Originally, a small voluntarily implemented system catering to a niche market, it is now a national $1.2 billion industry, encompassing Eco certified companies, guides, indigenous and climate change certification.\n Recent tourism research indicates that as the generation shifts, there is a growth in conscientious travelling with an increase in volunteerism, environmentally friendly, authentic and experiential tourism. In 2012, nearly 30% of tourists indicated they would choose an eco-friendly option, and a majority of travellers(70%) expect travel companies to build sustainability into their products(CREST 2013). The following paper looks at the sociological processes and events in the tourism industry that contributed to the development of Ecotourism ? ecologically sustainable tourism, cultural understanding, education, and accreditation.

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