Roger Smith, Director Operations at Echidna Walkabout, explains why Conservation Travel Australia has been formed
“The one thing we need more than hope is action.” Greta Thunberg, TEDx Stockholm 2018
Climate change is the biggest reality check tourism in Australia has ever faced. The Great Barrier Reef is dying; wildfires are incinerating our national parks; our iconic wildlife is disappearing; our country is getting hotter and drier (faster than most other countries).
It’s time for our industry to come together and demand change. We need to march beside the climate change activists, in fact we must be those activists. It’s beyond time for the travel industry to jump into the reality of the new world, where children are marching in the streets and demanding an end to fossil fuels.
These young people are the tourists of the future: we must win back the next generation of travellers. Like never before, this is the time for action.
Covid v climate change
In the foreseeable future many parts of Australia, where people currently live, may become uninhabitable, already our capital cities are experiencing extraordinary summer temperatures.
We’ll get past the Covid pandemic in a year or two, but unless we take climate change seriously — and cut CO2 emissions dramatically and fast — leisure tourism, especially in Australia, will be forced to its knees as many parts of the country become unvisitable. (The Guardian Interactive & Legal challenges at the end of this story provides details)
There’s no doubt the Covid 19 pandemic is devastating global tourism but likening the virus’s impacts to those of climate change is like comparing the loss of a single tree to the levelling of an entire forest, an analogy made more poignant in Australia by tourism’s reliance on the great outdoors for its products.
Do we in the tourism industry gloss over the hard bits because we’re terrified negativity may lose customers — or do we take up the challenge and figure out how we, as members of the world’s 10th largest industry, not only talk loudly about the future of the planet but actively bring about change?
What is Conservation Travel Australia? (read more here)
In June 2021, after years of leading the way in conservation tourism, we are launching a new concept for travel.
We’ve called it what it is: Conservation Travel Australia.
This concept is a first for Australia, where tourism leads conservation (as opposed to the other way around); we are saying loud and clear that when people join our tours they will be provided with opportunities to give back to the environment. Over many years Echidna Walkabout has built it’s marketing model on this concept and it works — we’ve proven that people want to give back!
The key to giving back is recognising that experiences can morph into learning and action.
Tourism has always been about experiences, about making people’s dreams come true. Too often though, experiences are designed with little or no interest in the purpose of the experience other than self gratification. Tourism at its worst is where resources are sucked up and spat out without a care or interest for the world from whence they came, it is an end in itself without principles.
An experience in conservation travel is the first step in a journey that involves participants in understanding not only how to treat the world better but, more importantly, converting their desire to give back into reality, hence the experience is the first step in learning.
Part of any experience should be an intention to learn more about the world we live in. Intrinsically — or accidently — many tourism experiences include a component of learning but conservation tourism purposely aims to increase awareness of life and the world we share with other creatures.
This does not mean we shove information down participants’ throats, on the contrary we do it by supporting our guests’ interests and building on them, by drawing out the best in people, by asking how they want to give back and helping them find a way to do that.
Nothing is more fulfilling than action. We can talk and procrastinate but the act of doing — like planting trees for koalas, rediscovering a long lost orchid, being involved in citizen science or simply understanding nature — empowers people to work for a better future for wildlife and the planet.
Conservation Travel Australia (CTA) provides a place where people can find experiences, learn and then take action. CTA is often used to define Call To Action which is exactly what we offer guests who join our tours.
Will Echidna Walkabout and Koala Clancy Foundation continue to operate?
The short answer is YES.
Conservation Travel Australia is an alliance between internationally recognised wildlife tour company, Echidna Walkabout, and the not-for-profit koala conservation organisation, Koala Clancy Foundation.
CTA is NOT replacing either of these organisations, they will continue to operate as they do now, in fact the CTA website is an “umbrella site” that links directly to both the Echidna Walkabout and Koala Clancy Foundation websites. Enquiries and/or bookings can be made through all 3 websites.
Action Statements & Media
Landmark judgment: government has a duty of care to young people – The Conversation
All photos/videos by Echidna Walkabout and Koala Clancy Foundation