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Townsville to host major ecotourism conference in 2018

22 February 2018

The Southern Hemisphere’s largest ecotourism conference will be held in Townsville and focus on the Great Barrier Reef following a strong bid from the Queensland Government to host the event in 2018.

Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said Ecotourism Australia’s Global Eco Asia-Pacific Tourism Conference would be held at Rydges from November 26 to 28 and was tipped to bring up to 300 of the world’s best authorities on ecotourism to Townsville.

“We couldn’t be happier to have this important conference back in our great state and to focus on the jewel in the crown of Queensland tourism - the Great Barrier Reef,” she said.

“The Palaszczuk Government is focused on capitalising on the unique ecotourism opportunities we have here in Queensland.

“We’re starting from a great base. Ecotourism supports 4600 jobs in this state but we know that number could be larger.

“That’s what this conference is about – getting the best minds together to spark debate about how we can get the balance right and leverage our natural assets.

Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch said Queensland’s world class national parks, marine parks and World Heritage Areas played an important role in ecotourism.

“Queensland National Parks attract more than 58 million domestic and international visitors each year and already we have steps in place to transform our national parks into ecotourism drawcards,” Ms Enoch said.

“Under the Queensland Ecotourism Plan and our National Parks’ ecotourism framework, our Government is working on premium ecotourism experiences that will build on our vision of Queensland being a recognised ecotourism destination while also protecting our beautiful natural environment.

“Our Government is committed to ensuring we get the balance right.”

Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said the conference was first in Townsville in 2006 and said its return in 2018 was a great win for the local tourism industry.

“Townsville’s natural beauty is what makes so many visitors consistently pick our great city as their preferred place to holiday,” he said.

“We need to help local business to take advantage of our strengths and input from the experts will help us to get the balance right.”

Ecotourism Australia is the peak body for ecotourism in the nation and the Global Eco Asia-Pacific Tourism conference has been the go-to event for ecotourism and sustainability in the tourism industry since its inception in 1991.

Ms Jones said the Queensland Government was a strong supporter of the conference which was last held in Queensland in 2013.

“We need to work with all of our partners to make the most of the natural beauty of our national parks and the Great Barrier Reef,” she said.

“We’ve already made ecotourism development easier through our Ecotourism Development Toolkit and now we’re working to improve experiences in our national parks and find new ways for visitors to enjoy our unique natural assets.”

Ecotourism Australia CEO Rod Hillman said Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef were internationally recognised ecotourism icons.

“Having Ecotourism Australia's 2018 Global Eco conference here in Queensland is a clear statement that Queensland's Government is serious about the benefits that ecotourism can bring to the State, its regions and its communities.

“We look forward to bringing the world to Queensland to showcase the amazing efforts and achievements of the ecotourism industry and Queensland's incredible nature.”

The Conference is also supported by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Townsville Enterprise Limited and Sustainable Townsville Limited.

Townsville Enterprise Director – Tourism and Events Bridget Woods said securing the conference was a significant coup for the region.

“Townsville Enterprise is thrilled to assist in bringing the 2018 Global Eco Conference to Townsville through funding supplied by the Townsville North Queensland Bid Fund,” said Ms Woods.

“Hosting the premier event of Ecotourism Australia provides our region the opportunity to showcase its outstanding environmental tourism experiences and facilities to the best ecotourism operators and tourism professionals in the world.

“The conference will also have a significant impact on our local economy, generating over $300,000 by the 250 event attendees, many of whom will be international delegates”.