Bundaberg: The Ecotourist’s dream come true!

Bundaberg region - loggerhead turtle

Home of Australia’s vital loggerhead turtle rookery

WANT to experience a destination dedicated to sustainable practices and environmental conservation?

Then look no further than the Bundaberg Region, Australia, the southern-most destination on the Great Barrier Reef and the home of the nation’s most significant endangered loggerhead turtle rookery.

Recently awarded fifth EECO Destination Certification from Ecotourism Australia (25/2/2034), the Bundaberg Region is teeming with vibrant wildlife and crystal clear coastal waters.

Perfect for ecotourists looking to learn more about sustainability while enjoying the breathtaking sights of nature, this region offers something truly unique.

From idyllic parks preserving centuries-old trees and fauna to sweeping coastlines bordered by wild flora – you won’t want to miss out on all the Bundaberg Region has to offer.

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Bundaberg region - turtle swimming amongst coral

A Green Sea Turtle swims over a reef next to a coral bommie at Lady Eliot Island. PHOTO: Shutterstock.

Australia’s fifth locale with CEO Destination Certification

The globally recognised ECO Destination Certification process through Ecotourism Australia is complex and recognises the efforts of the tourism industry, local government, and the entire community towards all aspects of regional sustainability, and the Bundaberg Region is the second destination in Queensland and fifth in Australia to achieve the prestigious credential.

Following independent assessment across 91 criteria, the region achieved the certification at the Ecotourism level which is defined as a nature-based tourism destination with a strong commitment to ecotourism principles.

This involves cultural and natural interpretation and education for visitors, and local business engagement in sustainability.

Located about a 4.5-hour drive north of Brisbane, the Bundaberg Region is home to some of the most lauded eco-certified experiences on the Great Barrier Reef including Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, Lady Musgrave Experience, Mon Repos Turtle Centre, and Kellys Beach Resort.

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Mayor Jack Dempsey said Bundaberg Regional Council had led the certification process with support from a range of stakeholders including Bundaberg Tourism, PCCC, and local operators and organisations.

“It is a massive coup for the Bundaberg Region to achieve ECO Destination Certification and sees our community become one of only a small number in the country to do so,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“This achievement demonstrates our community’s respect and care for the natural environment and will ensure we continue to grow in a sustainable way into the future.

“Ecotourism Australia’s independent auditor had some wonderful feedback for our region in making their decision and commended Council for its proactive approach to sustainability.

“This achievement has obvious benefits for our economy but it will also benefit our environment by providing a framework to constantly maintain and improve sustainability practices.

“It is also wonderful for our community members who can be proud of the role they play in preserving and protecting this place we are lucky enough to call home.”

Of the top five Bundaberg Region attractions and traveller favourites on TripAdvisor in 2022, three were nature-based and included Mon Repos Turtle Centre, Bundaberg Botanic Gardens, and Alexandra Park Zoo.

Bundaberg region - Turtle on a beach

A female Loggerhead Turtle flicks sand over her eggs to bury them after laying over 100 eggs above the high tide level at Mon Repos beach. PHOTO: Shutterstock.

Get up close and personal with nature in the Bundaberg region

Fulfilling global best standard sustainability requirements was no small feat, Ecotourism Australia CEO Elissa Keenan said.

“Since beginning its sustainability journey in 2020, the Bundaberg region has made significant strides to achieve ECO Destination Certification at the Ecotourism level,” Ms Keenan said.

“Bundaberg’s application demonstrated a passion for and dedication to holistic sustainability within the region, championing initiatives such as the One Million Trees Project and the popular Milbi Festival.

“Achieving ECO Destination Certification not only supports local Ecotourism Australia certified operators but inspires local tourism businesses to implement sustainability and achieve certification.”

Bundaberg Tourism played a key role in supporting the ECO Destination Certification process.

CEO Katherine Reid said, “The tourism industry of the region has long believed that experiencing our internationally significant but fragile natural assets is the greatest way to educate people about the need for conservation.

“The community and our tourism industry take great pride in our role as custodians of the Great Barrier Reef and the precious land, water, and sea country of the Traditional Owners on which we live, and ECO Destination Certification is a formal acknowledgment of this.

“The Bundaberg region continues to shine as one of Australia’s most exciting emerging tourism destinations, with people flocking from around the nation and the globe to experience our unique offerings, and the knowledge that their holidays are underpinned by respectful, sustainable, and in some cases regenerative business practices will only strengthen our desirability as a destination.”

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What is an ECO Certified Destination?

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.

Becoming a certified ECO Destination means regions will be demonstrating internationally recognised ecotourism credentials to visitors, stakeholders, and the community in a manner that is credible and authenticated.

In other words, it’s not just regions saying they’re sustainable; it’s independently assessed, verified, and audited.

Bundaberg region - Lady Musgrave Island

Aerial viewpoint over tropical waters at lady Musgrave Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. PHOTO: Shutterstock.

About the Bundaberg Region’s Ecotourism Experiences

World-famous Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort is considered the home of the manta ray and holds multiple Ecotourism Australia certifications including Advanced Ecotourism, Climate Action Leader, and Green Travel Leader.

The Resort is located on the southern-most island of the Great Barrier Reef and has received multiple international accolades including being placed in the Queensland Tourism Awards Hall of Fame in 2022 for successive wins in the Ecotourism category.

Lady Musgrave Experience offers full-day eco-tours and pontoon glamping experiences at the second coral cay of the Reef and holds three Ecotourism Australia certifications – Advanced Ecotourism, Climate Action Certified Business, and Respecting Our Culture.

In 2022, the Experience was awarded bronze in the Ecotourism category of the Queensland Tourism Awards.

The Mon Repos Turtle Centre’s ranger-led encounters with nesting and hatching sea turtles and long history of marine turtle research, protection, and education have earned it three Ecotourism Australia certifications – Advanced Ecotourism, Climate Action Certified Business and Respecting Our Culture.

The region is also home to the Southern Great Barrier Reef’s first mainland eco-certified accommodation, Kellys Beach Resort, which holds Nature Tourism and Green Travel Leader Eco Certification.

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About Eco Tourism Australia

Ecotourism Australia is a non-government, not-for-profit organisation, established in 1991, that promotes and supports the ecotourism industry in Australia through building capacity and actively promoting sustainable tourism operations and systems.

Ecotourism Australia is acknowledged globally for its industry standards and recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).

Recognised as the credible, national peak body for sustainable and nature-based tourism, their key program–ECO Certification–was the world’s first national ecotourism certification program.

Bundaberg: The perfect destination for eco-conscious travellers

The Bundaberg Region has something for everyone, whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, explore cultural attractions, or get active in nature.

And with so many eco-friendly accommodations and activities available, it’s the perfect destination for the environmentally conscious traveler.

So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to the Bundaberg Region today!

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If you enjoyed this story, you might also enjoy reading:

A Croquet-lover’s Guide to Exploring the Wide Bay

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