Tony Charters and Associates Tourforce  

Tourism is Your Business

  Tony Charters and Associates releases a regular newsletter Tourforce keeping stakeholders of the tourism industry connected with current issues, research, events and funding opportunities.


    Reproduction of any items from Tourforce is welcome, with acknowlegement of the source.
  Welcome to Tourforce! Edition 5    
  Forging a Competitive Edge in a Global Market

The tourism industry operates within an ever dynamic environment, with global influences more apparent than ever.

The new century threw enormous challenges at the industry – September 11, Ansett collapse, SARS, Bali bombings, Avian flu scares and so the list goes on.

Challenges into the future are at a scale never before contemplated. Climate Change represents a direct threat to many of Australia’s iconic destinations. It also poses an indirect threat through, for example the consumer choices of Australia’s key longhaul markets.


The surging strength of the Australian dollar creates a new dynamic for the industry – with winners and losers – depending on your place in the industry. For Australian travellers there is now a huge array of affordable travel choices within budget reach. Travelling to exotic overseas destinations where costs are very low creates a whole new set of competitors for Australian tourism operators.

At the same time the significant growth in available domestic and overseas airline seats though the introduction of new low cost carriers and larger aircraft creates a huge growth in capacity. Consumers are likely to see highly competitive fares being offered in this environment and destinations will achieve new growth on the back of greatly improved air access.

Concurrently though, Australians are faced with higher mortgage commitments through rising interest rates. Discretionary income will be on the decline for many Australian families. Competition from other consumer goods for a slice of discretionary income will reach new highs.

Australia must build upon existing areas of excellence and create new products that provide us with a competitive edge in the global market. This does not mean jettisoning previous efforts that have paid dividends. It means building upon those successes and introducing new and innovative products that capitalise on Australia’s strengths – its nature, its open and friendly people, indigenous culture, sporting prowess, excellence in event and convention management, climate, health and security.

Sometimes I get the sense that authorities tire of investing in emerging new sectors and products after just a few years – preferring to look for something new and exciting. Take ecotourism, not infrequently the question is posed: hasn’t ecotourism had its day? A classic example where Australia is regarded as the world leader and has the capacity to keep leading, yet questions the value of persisting with investment in this sector. Other nations are just awakening to the potential of ecotourism, they are looking at Australia’s success and they want a piece of it. Climate Change itself will reinforce consumer interest in natural areas – even if it is motivated by a desire to see these places before they succumb to the impacts of a changing climate.

Australia must focus on building its product base around its unique strengths and be the global leader in these fields. It must take a long term view to building the industry, not just 3, 5 or 10 year strategies, but continuous and effective commitments.

Tony Charters


  Best Practice    
  Green Globe Spas

Green Globe has developed the first Sector Benchmarking Indicators specifically for spa operations using the independently verified EarthCheck benchmarking system.

Green Globe has been working with global spa operator Six Senses Spas to develop the benchmarking for spa operations including the collection of data for analysis in order to set baseline and best-practice standards. The benchmarking indicators which include water usage and energy efficiency will become part of the Green Globe Sector Benchmarking Indicators for spa operations.

For further information visit:

  The ABCs of Certification

The Centre for Ecotourism and Sustainable Development has designed four practical guides to help businesses begin the certification process and improve the programs. The guides are the result of studies commissioned by the Rainforest Alliance and conducted by the Centre for Ecotourism and Sustainable Development and the International Ecotourism Society.

For further information visit:

  Climate Change
  CEO Challenge for Climate Change

Hosted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand and organised in partnership with the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation and the Burba Hotel Network, the Pacific Asia Travel Association ‘CEO Challenge - Confronting Climate Change’ will take place in Bangkok from 29 to 30 April 2008. The forum will challenge influential travel and tourism industry leaders from all sectors to agree to and sign a defining industry response to the global threat of climate change. Supporters include Sir Richard Branson and top executives from the UNWTO, Jones Lang LaSalle Asia Pacific, Accor Asia Pacific and Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts.

For further information visit:


  Carbon Neutral Convention Bureau        



The Perth Convention Bureau has joined Western Australia based Carbon Neutral, an environmental group that plants native trees to offset the carbon emissions of its contributing members.

Carbon Neutral has calculated the bureau's carbon footprint based on staff business travel over 12 months. It is the first bureau in Australia to formally embrace carbon offsetting.

For further information visit:

  Al Gore Trains Over 160 More Australians

Photo: Meredith Osborne 2007

Tony Charters was one of a small group of mentors working with Al Gore as he trained over 160 additional Australians as climate change messengers. The Melbourne Arts Centre hosted the gathering where a diverse group of trainees including footballers, high school students and celebrity gardener Jamie Durie, were taken through the presentation of An Inconvenient Truth to take into their local communities.

Al Gore has trained volunteers across the globe to spread the Climate Project message out into the community, passing on the science and solutions of climate change.

"Mr Gore put in a twelve hour day training the group. His obvious passion and 30 year study of Climate Change is very inspirational" Tony said.

For more information visit:

  Gondwana Rainforests of Australia

The World Heritage Committee has approved the new name Gondwana Rainforests of Australia for the former Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves of Australia.

The World Heritage site comprises 366,507 hectares in 50 reserves from south east Queensland to central New South Wales. The name change reflects the property’s World Heritage values and demonstrates a link to the ancient Gondwana super-continent.

The development of the new name involved public consultation and government agencies at a Federal and State level.

For further information visit:



  Planet Safe Partnership

The Tropical North Queensland tourism industry has launched a world leading environment protection program - Planet Safe Partnership. The initiative sets a new benchmark in sustainable tourism based on consultation with industry leaders and an analysis of environmental tourism programs in Australia and Europe.

The program aims to reassure visitors that they are contributing to practical short and long-term measures aimed at safeguarding Queensland’s World Heritage areas.

For further information visit:

  PATA Gold Awards

The Great Tropical Drive in Northern Queensland has won a 2007 Pacific Asia Travel Association Gold Award. The award is a tribute to the high degree of cooperation invested by industry representatives across regions to produce a quality tourist attraction that covers the Great Barrier Reef, tropical islands, rainforests and outback.

The 2007 awards attracted a record 339 entries from 132 travel and tourism organisations. The awards are sponsored by the Macau Government Tourist Office.

For further information visit:

  2008 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards Judges Announced
  Tony Charters is one of 12 international judges recently appointed by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) for the 2008 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards Finalist Selection Committee.

The committee will review and select a shortlist of finalists for the categories of: Destination Award; Conservation Award; Investor in People Award; and Global Tourism Business Award. Site visits are then completed by the Finalist Selection Committee, after which a final judging panel will choose the final category winners.


The 2008 Finalist Selection Committee judges include:

• Albert Teo, Managing Director, Borneo Eco Tours, Malaysia
• Brian Mullis, President, Sustainable Travel International, USA
• Erika Harms, Executive Director of Sustainable Development, United Nations Foundation, Costa Rica & USA
• Dr Janne J Liburd, Associate Professor, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark & Chair, BEST Education Network
• Jessica Hall Upchurch, Director of Sustainability, Virtuoso, USA
• Mahen Sangkhrajka, President, Big Five Tours and Expeditions, Kenya
• Mandip Singh Soin FRGS, Founder & Managing Director, Ibex Expeditions (P) Ltd, India
• Marilú Hernández, President, Fundacion Hacinedas del Mundo Mayas, Mexico
• Michelle White, Director, Environmental Affairs, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Canada & Global
• Nicky Fitzgerald, Senior Director, CC Africa, South Africa
• Dr Peter Burns, Professor, Centre for Tourism Policy Studies, University of Brighton, UK
• Tony Charters, Principal, Tony Charters & Associates, Australia


Entries are now open for the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards 2008 which aim to raise awareness of sustainability in the global tourism industry. The awards recognise and promote examples of world best practice in responsible tourism development across four categories – Destination, Conservation, Investor in People and Global Tourism Business.

Winners for each category will be invited to an awards ceremony at the Global Travel & Tourism Summit in April 2008 in Dubai. Entries close 5 December 2007.

  In 2007 the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority won the prestigious Destination Award.

For further information visit:

  Caravan and Camping Snapshot  


Tourism Research Australia has released a Caravan and Camping Snapshot which reveals key statistics about the sector and highlights important characteristics of domestic and international visitors who stayed in caravan or camping accommodation in 2006.

For further information visit:


Picture taken from Caravan and Camping Snapshot:

  Green Habits of Hotel Visitors
  The majority of travellers admit to letting their green routines slip when on the road according to a survey of frequent travellers commissioned by Element Hotels, part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.
  • Most of those polled said they are less likely to conserve water and electricity while they are away from home.
• More than 6-in-10 said they were using more because they knew it would be free.
• Nearly 70% of respondents said they open a new mini-bottle of shampoo each time they shower at a hotel.
• Almost two-thirds said they were more likely to leave the lights on at a hotel than at home.
• Three out of four hotel guests believe it is important to have their sheets and towels changed each day
Element Hotels will open its doors in 2008 and will adopt practices originally championed by cutting edge ecotourism operators in the delivery of a new, smart approach to sustainable hotels with properties designed to make environmentally friendly choices intuitive. Key smart design features include:
  • Clean and green: Shampoo and conditioner dispensers will eliminate multiple mini-bottles.
• Stemming the tide: Low-flow sink faucets and dual flush toilets and/or low gallons per flush toilets will allow guests to optimize water use during their time away from home. This small change will conserve an estimated 4,358 gallons of water per room each year.
• Smart materials: The element design incorporates eco-friendly materials wherever possible. The floor will feature carpets with up to 100 percent recycled content. On the walls, art will be mounted on a base made from recycled tires. Low-VOC paints will improve indoor air quality for guests and staff.
• Recycling reminder: About 50 percent of the waste generated in hotels is recyclable, but most hotel rooms don’t have recycling bins. Element guestrooms will include bins to help guests maintain their home recycling ritual.
• A bright idea: compact fluorescent lamps will be used throughout the hotel instead of incandescent light bulbs. This small change will result in up to 75 percent less energy used.
• Nature’s best: Biophilic design, which maximizes natural light and sightlines to the outdoors, will help guests thrive and connect with their surroundings.
• Staying smart: An education program will help guests make smart decisions for the environment while travelling and at home.

The survey was conducted by Studylogic via telephone interviews with 1,041 respondents, screened for a minimum of 3 hotel stays over the past twelve months.

For further information visit:


  World Heritage Campaign

A new $8 million co-operative tourism campaign has been launched in Japan by Tourism Australia - ‘Immerse Yourself in Australia's World Heritage’. The campaign will promote Australia’s World Heritage Areas and encourage Japanese tourists to visit these significant natural and cultural areas.

World Heritage images will be featured in train stations, newspapers, stands, online and brochures. Industry partners included airlines, State and Territory Tourism Organisations and trade partners.

For further information visit:


Picture from

  Product Development
  Moreton Bay Discovery Centre

Photo from

Tony Charters and Associates, in collaboration with Econnect Communication and de Blonk Smith Young, has recently been appointed to conduct a study for the development of a Moreton Bay Ecocentre.

Previous studies have indicated a high level of community and government support for the development of some kind of gateway to the Moreton Bay Marine Park from the Wynnum-Manly Bayside regions.

The feasibility of meeting this need via the development of a Discovery Centre forms the focus of this project. In particular, the team will investigate the viability of providing a hub for accessing:
- visitor information services;
- environmental interpretation and media;
- ecotourism opportunities; and
- eco-guide training and tour development.

The project is being supported by the Manly Chamber of Commerce Inc. and Moreton Bay Environmental Alliance.



  $42.8 Million CountryLink Investment Celebrates XPT’s 25th Birthday

CountryLink is part of the government-owned Rail Corporation New South Wales which also operates CityRail which provides the passenger rail service covering the greater Sydney region.

  Currently CountryLink is investing $42.8 million dollars into a refurbishment program for the XPT and XPLORER fleet. CountryLink carries almost two million passengers every year to over 360 destinations in NSW, Queensland, the ACT and Victoria.
  For further information visit
  Australian Tourism Development Program

Thirty-five tourism projects in drought affected areas have received more than $4.8 million in funding as part of the Australian Tourism Development Program. Funding of up to $500,000 was provided in round five for projects in drought-affected Australia.

For further information visit:

  Ecotourism Australia National Conference: Leading Global Challenges
  Tourism operators will unite at Ecotourism Australia’s National Conference in Melbourne from November 19-23 to hear industry leaders debate challenges and propose solutions to climate change.  
  Themed, Leading Global Challenges, the conference has attracted top industry speakers including Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler.
    Tony challenges whether the term “ecotourism” is just another buzz word used to sell travel, whether our world can withstand an estimated 1.5 billion people travelling annually by the year 2020, and if staying home and flying less is actually doing the earth more damage.  
Intrepid Traveller CEO, Darrell Wade talks solutions, prompted by his decision to become a Carbon Neutral company by 2010. He sheds light on how best to identify areas where large emissions occur and the response by consumers.

“The travel industry will be among the first affected by climate change with coral reefs disappearing, beaches going under water, desertification of large areas of landmass and reduced economic wellbeing generally,” Mr. Wade said, “so we have a vested interest to change.”

  Operators come away knowing how to calculate their own Carbon Footprint as taught by Steven Andrew from Carbon Balance Consulting and will understand why a robust audit can add value to the triple bottom line, save money and provide a powerful marketing tool in an increasingly competitive green marketplace.
  Ten keynote speakers and more than 20 plenary session delegates have been drawn, nationally and internationally, from a knowledge base of private sector operators; NGOs; National Parks and Protected Area Managers, State and Regional Tourism Organisations, Government agencies; education institutions; consultants; and the media.
Best practice case studies also address critical challenges such as overcoming indigenous tourism issues, balancing park protection and use, educating future leaders, branding and destination planning, understanding changing tourism markets and community attitudes, and nurturing partnership initiatives.
    Victorian Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Innovation, Gavin Jennings discusses the Nature-based Tourism Strategy 2007-2011, which is a commitment to guide sustainable, responsible and sensitive development of this sector.  
  Parks Victoria Chief Executive, Mark Stone looks to future outcomes and options for fire management and recovery put in place following significant recent regional bushfires.  
  A major draw card this year is the opportunity for participants to take to the outdoors and experience a day trip stop-over at one of three flourishing examples of sustainability in the North West’s Bendigo and the Goldfields, The Grampions National Park in South Western Victoria, and Mt Buller in the North East.

The Grampians NP theme stream will focus on Managing Natural Areas in a Cultural and Recreational Landscape, including bushfire recovery; Mt Buller focuses on Tools and Technology, including the pygmy possum recovery project; and Bendigo and the Goldfields is all about Keeping Heritage Relevant, including parks & indigenous. Famous for its spectacular scenery, diversity in flora and fauna and extraordinary cultural and recreation landscape, visiting delegates to The Grampians NP will experience first hand the iconic Pinnacle Walking Track.

  Speakers along the way highlight the new benchmark set by architectural redevelopment of the walking track, the complexities of marketing a natural landscape, and how the cultural values of the area is managed.
  Mt Buller’s visiting participants discover how and what the alpine resorts are doing to remain sustainable in a changing climate.
  Focus is on the process of a national study to establish the economic significance of the resorts and presents the key results of gains for an industry worth $1.3 billion nationally in 2005 and providing 17,050 additional employment opportunities annually.
  Heritage and the cultural significance of preservation is highlighted at the Goldfields theme stream when participants relive the goldrush of the 1850s at the Golden Dragon Museum which houses the world’s oldest and longest Imperial dragons.
  Participants also tour the Box Ironbark forest around Castlemaine with an aboriginal elder, geologist, writer and architect providing their own perspectives on the formation of this ancient landscape.
  Ecotourism Australia CEO Stephen Pahl says people in the tourism industry are tired of hearing about how big the problems are and are turning to this year’s Conference to see real examples of how various supporters are committed to creating solutions for a sustainable future.
  To register contact the Conference Secretariat Kim Deitman on (03) 9534 8856 or
  For further information visit:
  Tourism Futures National Conference 2008
  Tourism Queensland, Tourism Australia and Gold Coast Tourism are currently planning the sixth National Conference on Tourism Futures which will be held at the Gold Coast from 2-4 June 2008. Tony Charters has been appointed the convenor of the conference, having convened all Tourism Futures events since its inception in 2002.  
  The National Conference on Tourism Futures brings together sectors that have a direct and indirect role in tourism, so that collectively they can examine and respond to the issues influencing its growth. Delegates at Tourism Futures receive the latest information on industry performance, trends and forecasts; obtain a global perspective on future directions; contribute to the development of an integrated perspective on the needs of the industry; and receive updates on best practice and trends.  
  Last year’s conference in Melbourne achieved record attendance, and the expectation is that the 2008 conference will again surpass all previous Tourism Futures Delegations. It is anticipated that next year’s conference will achieve numbers in the range of 400 – 500 delegates and as in previous years will be made up of an Australia-wide and growing Asia-Pacific delegation.
  Increasingly Tourism Futures is seen as a venue for senior executives, policy makers and practicioners to come together and discuss the opportunities and trends for the tourism industry in the coming decade. Last year a staggering 80 per cent of delegates were in senior management positions and 55 per cent of the delegates occupied chair, CEO or senior executive positions. Tourism Futures provides an opportunity for collective industry response and policy development to meet the challenges in the coming decade.
  Big Names, Bold Ideas for Regional Australia
  Elite thinkers with a broad spectrum of perspectives and experience presented their ideas on the future of our country and specifically, the prospects and opportunities for regional Australia at Sustainable Economic Growth for Regional Australia (SEGRA) 2007 held in Wollongong Illawarra Region recently.
Renowned futurist Oliver Freeman talked about the raft of opportunities and realities provided in an environment of constant and rapid change. Mr Freeman called on delegates to think strategically and plan for converging new technologies that will lead to major shifts in the way the business world works.

Dr Suter, one of Australia’s greatest intellectuals also spoke about the need to embrace change rather than being antagonistic and resisting change. “People need to ask how they can make the changes work for them,” said Dr Suter.

Bold reform of our system of government was needed if federalism was to survive, including stronger regional government according to Dr AJ Brown, Director of the Federalism Project at Griffith University.

  SEGRA 2007 provided initiatives this year including a significant special focus on responding and adapting to climate change as well as the large range of practical case studies from regional Australia for which SEGRA is widely recognized.

Next year SEGRA will be hosted by Albury, NSW from 18-20 August. “A key to success is being prepared for things different from what you might have expected”, says Les Tomich, General Manager, Albury City Council. SEGRA Secretariat is currently looking for regional success stories to profile at SEGRA 2008.

To find out more visit or phone Jessica Shelton on 07 3210 0021.

  The Oslo Statement on Ecotourism  

The International Ecotourism Society has released ‘The Oslo Statement on Ecotourism’ as an outcome of the 2007 Global Ecotourism Conference. The statement highlights ecotourism’s past achievements since the International Year of Ecotourism in 2002 and puts forward recommendations derived from workshops and meetings that took place during the conference on the four themes of local sustainable development, conservation, education and communication.

For further information visit:

  Climate Change: Cash for Conservation?  
  The 2008 Parks and Protected Areas Management Congress (PPAMCon) invites all conservation driven agencies to make climate change responses work for conservation. This congress will facilitate a collaborative approach to identifying opportunities in the emerging national carbon trading scheme to further and fund conservation objectives.

PPAMcon 2008 aims to:
- Raise awareness and understanding of relevant emissions trading concepts, issues and implications for conservation objectives
- Define the desirable framework for the emissions trading system, credits and offset schemes (e.g. partners, governance, standards, conservation outcomes)
- Identify current barriers or trends taking us away from this vision and current trends taking us towards it
- Identify actions that agencies and organisations with conservation objectives need to do NOW to drive outcomes towards the vision identified

It will facilitate the development of a draft position statement for consideration in government forums dealing with trading scheme development and refinement.


There is some urgency for this. There is currently an emerging business sector focused on providing offset schemes. Offset schemes are and will continue to be a key means by which carbon credits can be obtained and an important part of the national emissions trading scheme framework. There is therefore a potential opportunity for agencies and organisations driven by conservation objectives to secure financial and conservation benefits by becoming directly involved in this business sector.

As offset scheme standards and criteria develop and carbon credit definitions evolve it will be important to ensure that the broader conservation criteria and not just emissions reduction criteria are included. Conservation benefits may be lost, for example if assessment criteria are limited to emissions reduction and do not take into account broader conservation outcomes. (For example, planting trees may provide carbon storage outcomes but not necessarily biodiversity outcomes.)

Dates for PPAMCon have yet to be fixed. Please register your interest in receiving further information by emailing

Tony Charters and Associates