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Central Coast one of the first Australian destinations to achieve ECO Certification

By Central Coast Council
Posted: 27 Jun 2022
We are excited to announce that following a 20-month journey, the Central Coast has officially achieved ECO Destination Certification with Ecotourism Australia, making it one of the first regions in the country to be recognised for its strong, well-managed commitment to sustainable practices and high-quality, nature-based tourism experiences.

Achieving ECO Destination Certification recognises the Central Coast as a world-class location for sustainable and nature-based tourism, which will provide a substantial and ongoing boost to the local economy.

The announcement comes just before World Environment Day’s 50th anniversary year, which encourages countries around the globe to celebrate #OnlyOneEarth through collective environmental action.

Council Director Corporate Affairs and Chief Financial Officer, Natalia Cowley said it was exciting to see the region receiving formal recognition on an international level as an ecotourism destination of choice.

“We are thrilled in our role in achieving this recognition and to announce our successful official ECO Destination Certification for the Central Coast, and what this means for our local community.

“Statistically, we know that ecotourists stay longer, are more conscious travellers and are more interested in a region’s local community, nature, and culture.

“Council is excited at the prospective boost in ecotourism that being an ECO Destination will bring, such as providing sustainable, local employment and training opportunities to the Central Coast community”.

To achieve ECO Destination Certification, an independent Auditor assigned by Ecotourism Australia reviewed Council’s submission and conducted interviews with staff, stakeholders and tourism operators on the Central Coast.

The Auditor said “Central Coast Council is to be commended for their sustainability planning including being only the second region in NSW, and the third in the whole of Australia to apply for Destination Certification through Ecotourism Australia. Rarely have I seen such commitment to pursue what is very much a brand rebuild for the Central Coast Community as well as the Central Coast Council. The Central Coast will no longer be "a corridor" for travellers between Sydney and Newcastle, it is well placed to become "the” destination of choice in the region.”

Council Administrator, Rik Hart said becoming an accredited ECO Destination was a priority action in our Destination Management Plan and will now encourage further growth in the tourism sector.

“The Central Coast is known to be rich in world-class, nature-based tourist attractions which confirms the region as one that is well-placed to attract an increasing number of visitors seeking sustainable tourism experiences,” Mr Hart said.

“Tourism is an important pillar of the Central Coast economy, and ecotourism will play an integral role in ensuring our region is front of mind for responsible and conscious visitors, based on globally recognised sustainability principles.

“Together with local ECO certified and nature-based operators in the region, Council is now well-equipped with the business tools to support holistic, sustainable destination management, and is beyond excited to see how our certified ECO Destination continues to boost the local economy and enhance liveability and community pride”.

Ecotourism Australia Chief Executive Officer, Elissa Keenan, said the Central Coast is an outstanding region to become a certified ECO Destination.

“We are delighted to see the Central Coast become the newest ECO Certified Destination in Australia and are excited to see the region continue to flourish through its commitment to sustainable tourism practices.

“This is the second region in Australia to achieve ECO Destination certification through our partnership with WWF-Australia, following the devastating bushfires of 2019-2020. We are proud to work with WWF-Australia to help affected destinations build back better.

“We congratulate the Central Coast on their commitment to ongoing improvement of sustainable practices while providing high-quality nature-based tourism experiences within the region.”

The Central Coast now has six ECO certified operators and nine ECO Certification applicants – the largest regional cohort on the ECO Destination certification program:

Council’s ECO Destination Certification has been achieved through an Ecotourism Australia and WWF-Australia funded partnership as part of WWF-Australia's Wildlife & Nature Recovery Fund.

To learn more about the Central Coast’s ECO Destination Certification, and what this means for the local community and the region’s tourism, visit the dedicated FAQs page.

For more information, search ‘ECO Destination Certification’ on Central Coast Council’s website here, or visit the dedicated destination website here

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