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Ecotourism Industry Development
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Tony Charters has a strong background in nature-based recreation and ecotourism developments. Through various positions in public, private and not for profit sectors, he acquired expertise in promoting projects which still contribute to the growth of Ecotourism industry in Australia.

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Today, he still works closely with Ecotourism Australia, the national peak body of ecotourism industry, developing and managing numerous innovative projects and programs including:
     
  • The Eco-Certification program    
  • Cairns Charter on Partnerships for Ecotourism    
  • The Memorandum of Understanding between UNESCO and Ecotourism Australia    
  • National Ecotourism Conferences    
     
Within Tourism Queensland as Director of the Environmental Tourism department for 5 years, he managed the full implementation of the 1997 Queensland Ecotourism Plan. He oversaw the development and launch of the 2003-2008 Queensland Ecotourism Plan.    
     
He also conceived and co-ordinated the development of the Ecotourism Rapid Assessment Model (ECORAM) to assist intending ecotourism projects developers to assess the potential of projects and destinations.    
     
Tony Charters is also involved in the development of industry standards as expert in Finalist’s Selection Committees for Tourism Awards and as member of the Eco Certification National Committee    
     

Ecotourism Australia
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Ecotourism Australia is a non-profit organisation formed in 1991. The association has a many different members including industry sector; ecotourism accommodation; tours and attractions; protected area managers; students; tourism; environmental, interpretation consultants and other local and regional associations
 

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Its mission statement includes: developing and adopting standards for sustainable practices; increasing the professionalism of those working within the tourism industry; assisting operators to improve the quality of interpretation; and improving financial viability for operators who adopt sustainable practices.
 
This association aims to develop best practices in tourism and consolidate the growth of ecotourism.
 
Tony has been closely involved in Ecotourism Australia at different levels of the organisation, and played a key role in the development of important program such as:
     
  - The Eco-Certification Program launched in 1996, exported today internationally through The Green Globe 21 International Ecotourism Standard.  
  - The Cairns Charter on Partnerships for Ecotourism which supports the establishment and operation of ecotourism partnerships;  
  - The Memorandum of Co-operation between UNESCO and Ecotourism Australia a partnership which launched the Eco-Escapes programme.  
  - Moreover, he convened four National Ecotourism Conferences and the 2002 International Ecotourism Conference.  
     
     

Eco Certification Program
 
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Tony Charters was the chair of the National Working Committee that developed the Eco Certification Scheme – launched in 1996. This certification program, now in its ninth year and in its third generation was the first ecotourism certification program in the world and is still regarded as the leading scheme globally. Tony has retained an active role with the Eco Certification scheme and is the National Chair of the Eco Certification Management Committee.

The Eco Certification scheme was developed in Australia by industry for industry, it aims to identify genuine ecotourism and nature tourism operators.
Now this program with augmentation associated with Green Globe 21 is exported to the rest of the world as the International Ecotourism Standard.

 
There are three various levels of certification – Nature Tourism, Ecotourism and Advanced Ecotourism – established according to specific assessment criteria. The Ecotourism Accreditation Program provides ten main criteria. The tourism operator has to focus on personally experiencing nature to greater understanding and appreciation.
 
There are three levels of certification:
  3   2   1  
 
All Eco-certified products are independently audited
There are three steps:
  1. Self-assessment
2. Initial desktop verification
3. Independent audit undertaken within the 3 year life of the program
 
 
ECO contains 10 comprehensive criteria across:
       
  • Economic sustainability
1. Business management and operational planning
2. Business ethics
3. Responsible marketing
4. Customer satisfaction

  • Environmental sustainability
5. Natural area focus
6. Environmental management
7. Interpretation and education
   
  • Social sustainability
8. Contribution to conservation
9. Working with local communities; and
10. Cultural respect and sensitivity
 

Cairns Charter
 
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Tony Charters was Chair of the Cairns Charter Steering Committee. The draft Charter was developed during Ecotourism Australia's conference 21-25th October 2002 at Cairns, Queensland. The final Charter reflects input received during a public consultation period.
The Cairns Charter on Partnerships for Ecotourism is built on the principles of the Quebec Declaration and aims to provide guidance on the development of ecotourism partnerships; encourage and support the establishment of ecotourism partnerships; and outlines a post-IYE (International Year of Ecotourism-2002) of ecotourism partnerships action plan.
 
The Charter is composed of 8 articles in order to promote successful partnerships. The articles include indigenous communities; local communities; government and inter-governmental organisations; non-governmental organisations; ecotourism businesses; financial institutions and development agencies; training, education and research organisations; and media and marketing organisations.
 
The Charter emphasises the benefits of partnerships for ecotourism such as best practice information; the development of a competitive advantage; the creation of new products, services or value-added packages; the protection of community values and the conservation of natural resources.
 


Co-operation between UNESCO and Ecotourism Australia

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UNESCO World Heritage Centre and Ecotourism Australia have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation for the Development of a World Heritage Tourism Program and Fund at the Ecotourism Australia National Conference held in November, 2003
The partnership aims to create an environment of shared learning and assistance for World Heritage areas between developed and developing countries through the Eco-Escapes programme.
 
The funds generated will be donated to World Heritage Fund for supporting conservation projects, the protection of heritage and the development of sustainable tourism.
 
UNESCO World Heritage Centre and Ecotourism Australia have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation for the Development of a World Heritage Tourism Program and Fund at the Ecotourism Australia National Conference held in November, 2003
 
The partnership aims to create an environment of shared learning and assistance for World Heritage areas between developed and developing countries through the Eco-Escapes programme.
 
The funds generated will be donated to World Heritage Fund for supporting conservation projects, the protection of heritage and the development of sustainable tourism.
 
   
National Ecotourism Conference  
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This has involved all components of the conference management – theme setting, speakers program, sponsorship, marketing, professional conference organisation, networking functions, field programs, specialised workshops, trade displays and evaluation.
 
The Ecotourism Australia website contains information for the National Ecotourism Cconference.
   

Tourism Queensland
 
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Tourism Queensland is Australia’s most progressive destination management organisation. Tourism Queensland is a statutory authority of the Queensland government established under the Tourism Queensland Act 1997.
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Each year Ecotourism Australia organises a National Ecotourism Conference. This conference provides a forum for discussion of current issues, solutions and best-practice case studies.
Tony has been conference convenor in 1995, 1996 and from 1998 to 2002.

Tourism Queensland aims to enhance the development and marketing of Queensland’s tourism destinations in partnership with industry, government and the community.
 
Tony Charters was Director of the Environmental Tourism department from 1997 to 1999. He provided policy and strategic advice on environmental tourism and implemented the environmental tourism initiatives of the Queensland Tourism Strategy. He also led the development of innovative projects including:
 
  2003-2008 Queensland Ecotourism Plan  
  Ecotourism Rapid Assessment Model (EcoRam)  
  Self-help publications  
  Ecotourism Research  
   

2003-2008 Queensland Ecotourism Plan
 
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He was responsible of the development and implementation of the 1997 Queensland Ecotourism Plan and review and launch of the 2003-2008 Queensland Ecotourism Plan.

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This plan aims to provide a framework for planning, managing and marketing of Queensland’s ecotourism industry to ensure ecotourism in Queensland is ecologically, economically, socially and culturally sustainable.
 
The Queensland Ecotourism Plan 2003-2008 presents and updates the vision and definition of ecotourism contained in the 1997 Queensland Ecotourism Plan.
Today Queensland is recognised as a global leader in ecotourism.
 
   

Ecotourism Rapid Assessment Model
 
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He also conceived and coordinated the development of the Ecotourism Rapid Assessment Model – ECORAM.This is a simple guide which provides guidance of the development and assessment of environmental tourism ideas in terms of the features of the site or region; the target market and the infrastructure necessary to achieve a viable product and issues such as community engagement.
 
   

Self-help Publications
 
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These publications are useful for tour operators, students, protected area managers, academics, local/state government agencies and community groups

Through the Tourism Queensland Sustainable Tourism Department, Tony led the development of a wide range of industry self-help publications including:
   
  - 2003-2008 Queensland Ecotourism Plan
  - Environmental Impact Monitoring: A guide for Tourism Operators – May 2002
  - Ecotourism Rapid Assessment Model- ECORAM– July 2001
  - Best Practice Ecotourism in Queensland - 2000
  - Getting Started Online: A Tourism Operator’s Guide to the Internet - 2000
  - Innovation in Interpretation – August 2000
  - Grow Your Ecotourism Business - 1999
  - Outback Interpretation Manual
  - Tourism Project Feasibility Guide
  - Tour Operator – Tool Kit
  - Working with communities – A guide for Tourism operators
 
These publications are available for purchase from Tourism Queensland or telephoning (+61) 7 3535 5442.
 

2003-2008 Queensland Ecotourism Plan
This publication presented the vision and policy for the future of ecotourism in Queensland.
It aims to provide a framework for planning, managing and marketing of Queensland’s ecotourism industry to ensure ecotourism in Queensland is ecologically, economically, socially and culturally sustainable.

It can be ordered from Tourism Queensland
     
     
 
Environmental Impact Monitoring: A guide for Tourism Operators – May 2002
This publication aims to help tourism operators to avoid environmental degradation of protected area and be proactive in managing their impacts. It provides effective methods of impacts monitoring and shows how these can be incorporated into day-to-day operations.
     
   
 
Ecotourism Rapid Assessment Model - ECORAM– July 2001
This is a guiding book which permits to assess a ‘great idea’ for an ecotourism business. By completing a list of questions on the attraction, the target market and the infrastructure of the project, it identifies the potential of this idea and the possible issues meet to develop it.
     
   
 
Best Practice Ecotourism in Queensland - 2000
This book presents an overview of ecotourism topics including chapters on environmental management, consumer behaviour, marketing, product development, interpretation and operations on protected areas.
     
     
 
Getting Started Online: A Tourism Operator’s Guide to the Internet - 2000
This handbook provides information about the Internet and its importance for the tourism industry; it demonstrates why operators should go online and how they can go online or get the most from their website.
Ecotourism Rapid Assessment
This is a guiding book which permits to assess a ‘great idea’ for an ecotourism business. By completing a list of questions on the attraction, the target market and the infrastructure of the project, it identifies the potential of this idea and the possible issues meet to develop it.
    Back to the top
     
 
Innovation in Interpretation – August 2000
This publication presents 30 innovative case studies chosen from around Queensland in order to help operators creative innovative tourism products. It permits to demonstrate the use of built facilities, technology, sound, lights, materials and people resources.
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Grow Your Ecotourism Business - 1999
Grow Your Ecotourism Business is a two volume kit for individuals, community groups and operators produced to assist them to develop their existing ecotourism businesses.
This publication deals with a wide range of topics presented in different sections including some definitions; environmental management; business planning; sustainable design; planning and operational guidelines; interpretation & environmental education; how to contributing to conservation and brochure design and publication.
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Outback Interpretation Manual
This publication aims to assist existing and potential tour operators in development of interpretive activities in the outback. In a first part there is a presentation of the business of interpretation and the second part develop a snapshot of environmental themes presented in the outback Queensland.
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Tourism Project Feasibility Guide
This is a self-help kid provides a checklist of key steps that should be considered before investing or developing small to medium scale tourist attractions.
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Tour Operator – Tool Kit
This publication was developed in response to demand for information about ‘who-what-where-why and when’ to assist in business decisions.
It was presented in five steps to a successful tour operation.
    Back to the top
     
 
Working with communities – A guide for tourism operator
This publication aims to encourage tour operators to work with the local communities to achieve mutual benefits and improve social sustainability. Seven steps have been developed to socially responsible tourism: values and policies; vision; goals and objectives; target relevant community groups; action plans; monitoring and awareness; and promoting your success.
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  Ecotourism Research  
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Tourism Queensland led Ecotourism research aimed at improving knowledge of the ecotourism industry. It provides publications useful for tour operators, students, protected area managers, academics, local/state government agencies and community groups.
  - Tropical North Queensland Bird Watching Market Study - 1998
  - The Profile, Behaviour and Needs of Tourists in Environmentally Significant Areas - 1998
  - National Domestic Survey - 1999
  - International Leisure Market Survey - 1999
  - Nature-based Tourism in Queensland – 1999
  - Ecotourism, the Internet and Backpackers – 1999
  - How are we tracking? Environmental Tourism Benchmarking Study – 1999
  - Nature and Ecotourism Accreditation Program (NEAP) Consumer Survey – 2000
  - Nature and Ecotourism Accreditation Program (NEAP) Industry Survey – 2000
   
 
These publications are available from Tourism Queensland or telephoning (+61) 7 3535 5442.
 

Tropical North Queensland Bird Watching Market Study
Released in May 1998, the aim of this study was to identify the 'traits' of the bird watching market and assist with developing effective marketing tactics, which would increase the profile of bird watching in Tropical North Queensland among tourism industry networks and consumers.

     
     
 

The Profile, Behaviour and Needs of Tourists in Environmentally Significant Areas
Released in August 1998, this report was prepared to assist in developing an understanding of visitors to environmentally significant regions of Queensland, particularly their characteristics, motivations and expectations.

     
   
 
National Domestic Survey
Released in January 1999, this report was prepared to measure the understanding, interest and participation in environmental tourism among Australian residents. The specific objectives of the research were to measure the recent history of breaks and holidays, sources of information used in holiday planning, the extent to which nature-based activities featured in holidays and people's beliefs about nature and tourism.

     
   
 

International Leisure Market Survey
Released in May 1999, this report was prepared to measure the understanding, interest and participation in environmental tourism among international leisure visitors to Australia. The specific objectives of the research were to measure the recent history of breaks and holidays, sources of information used in holiday planning, the extent to which nature-based activities featured in holidays and people's beliefs about nature and tourism.

     
     
 

Nature-based Tourism in Queensland
Released in June 1999, this report was prepared to profile consumers engaging in nature-based tourism, identify the level of decision making and preparation processes including the role of information, and identify details of the stay and activities in the tourism region and the satisfaction with the region.

     
     
 

Ecotourism, the Internet and Backpackers
Released in July 1999, this report was prepared to measure understanding, interest and participation in environmental tourism among international backpackers to Australia, and their usage of the Internet to prepare for their vacation.

     
     
 

How are we tracking? Environmental Tourism Benchmarking Study
Released in November 1999, this report was prepared to identify core issues that influence both the development and operation of the environmental tourism businesses in Queensland, and to establish a benchmark against which to measure the growth, or otherwise, of the industry, in the future.

     
     
 

Nature and Ecotourism Accreditation Program (NEAP) Consumer Survey
Released in August 2000, this report was prepared to profile consumers of NEAP accredited products, identify their motivations for selecting ecotourism products, measure their awareness of NEAP and determine the affect of NEAP accreditation on consumer preference for products.

     
     
 

Nature and Ecotourism Accreditation Program (NEAP) Industry Survey
Released in August 2000, this report was prepared to assess the current levels of satisfaction with, and future expectations of, NEAP among operators with accredited product in Queensland and Australia. The survey was also applied to operators in other states with NEAP accredited products in order to compare these results with Queensland operators.

     
     
  Industry Standards  
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  Tony Charters serves as expert/judge in Finalist’s Selection Committees for Tourism Awards. His strong experience in the tourism Industry and in ecotourism industry provided him expertise in the development of these industries.
He has been involved in finalist’s selection committees including:
 
Finalist’s Selection CommitteeTourism for Tomorrow international awards. One of a group of 12 experts selected globally, and the only Australian, to undertake the selection process for this internationally respected award.
   
 
Finalist’s Selection Committee for the World Legacy Awards – a global awards scheme established jointly by Conservation International and National Geographic. The only Australian on this selection committee.
 
 
Industry Certification
Tony Charters has been actively involved in the development of Ecotourism certification both nationally and internationally through his founding role in the Eco Certification Scheme and the International Ecotourism Standard.
         

Interesting Articles

A Safe Haven for Turtles
By Mary Mwendwa

 Fishermen are benefiting economically from a Turtle conservation project on the Kenyan coast. Known for its spectacular beaches, Mombasa is promoting ecotourism along the Shanzu Beach where turtles are breeding. The scheme is aimed at fighting Sea Turtle poaching by creating awareness, education and monetary incentives for the reporting and protection of sea turtles and their nests.  The project was started in 1993 by the Serena Hotels, whose main objective was to provide a safe haven for Turtle eggs. Local fishermen are paid by the hotel for the safe transfer of Turtle eggs.
 Local fishermen smile when they come across turtle nests and eggs. According to Bob Oguya, Chief Naturalist /Environment Officer, turtles are an attraction to the tourists and are among some of the most ancient marine creatures in the world, hence the need to conserve them. "Green Hawksbill and Olive Ridley Turtles show up only three times a year at the Shanzu Beach front and lay between 100-250 eggs on their traditional nesting site.” He further adds the local fishermen have been very cooperative in this exercise as they used to tamper with the nests and also take eggs for food.
Defenders of Wildlife, an organization that champions for the protection of wildlife and its habitats, state that  the biggest threats to Sea Turtles is humans. The Serena group of hotels have managed to successfully rescue over 10,000 hatchlings. They also offer Turtle conservation lectures to guests through a local naturalist onsite. Tourists get a chance to adopt turtles and also contribute to the fund for conserving turtles. Serena hotels also breed local Indigenous Butterflies in a sanctuary house under a greenhouse with tropical trees. They have bred 57 species of butterflies , 35% of the total  870 species found in the coastal forests. These efforts made them scoop the 2012 Eco- warrior awards in recognition for their work for past nineteen years on turtle and butterfly conservation as a model to sustainable tourism.
Ecotourism Kenya launched the Eco-warrior Award in 2005. The award provides the organization with an opportunity to recognize and reward innovations in sustainable tourism while supplying information on best practices. Among the values emphasized by the award are innovations that respect the environment, respect local culture, impacts on local economies and empower local communities, practice of ecotourism, provide opportunities for linkages with local communities and promote good environmental governance. The winners must demonstrate innovation in any one or more of these areas.
Ecotourism Kenya prepares to host the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference in September 2013 in Kenya, sustainable tourism practices will be a key agenda in the forum.

Eco Tourism Consultant Tourism Consultant Marketing Consultant Ecotourism Sustainable Tourism Destination Development Recreation Concept Design Advocacy and Stakeholder Engagement Public Private Partnership Development Market Research Analysis Social Economic Impact Assessment World Heritage Protected Areas Conservation
 
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