With a degree of enthusiasm and maybe boyish naivety (of the Buzz Lightyear variety) I have set about encouraging change at a grass roots level within my community of Kangaroo Valley NSW. Since June 2007 a GHG Emissions reduction program has been running. We now have a third of the Kangaroo Valley Tourist Association membership pledged to reduce their emissions. The programme involves on-line auditing, energy reduction and renewable energy recommendations. You can see an
early report on ABC tv
I have also now completed a historic walk which involved quite considerable research and liaison with other stakeholders. This establishes a foundation of what our community considers “heritage” and thus provides a focus for tourism businesses and our guests.
My next action is to transform the Green Kangaroo program into a RT destination plan – if re elected on the 19th July as President of the Kangaroo Valley Tourist Association. This will involve:
- auditing our accessible tourism facilities
- development of our distinctive qualities using local produce
- education on the merits of the greening supply chain
- evolving the offset activities into conservation that helps protect wildlife corridors
- conducting a follow up phase of research to learn operator motivations
- conducting a follow up phase of audits to see what specific change has been achieved in three years.
- and of course changing the “Going Carbon Neutral” descriptor into a “Responsible Destination Partner”
On Monday 19th July a Code of Ethics will be voted on at our AGM. If approved this will in itself be a milestone. This code will become a guide for future members of the management committee and for operators. Likewise it will become a beacon to encourage other community tourist associations to consider their values.
A presentation of this case study will be made at the 4th International Responsible Tourism Conference in Oman.
To date the project has caught the imagination of the local Shoalhaven City Council and I am preparing a plan to extend what we have in Kangaroo Valley across the region.
The project has also been recognised by the NSW Government and on several occasions I have been asked to present the case history at various industry and community meetings. It has also boosted my credibility and I am now a policy advisor to EcoTourism Australia.
Certainly I use my own business, Crystal Creek Meadows, as a practical demonstration of how RT provides real holidays and improves economic sustainability. Students field trips, operators visits are encouraged and Sophie, my wife and I gladly demonstrate our points of difference and how to engage visitors to act responsibly. We like to use the WRTD date as a “line in the sand” and build on the international momentum. This year we will focus of accessible tourism.
I will post progress on the community, regional and WRTD progress as it happens. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like more details.