This category recognises ecologically sustainable tourism with a primary focus on experiencing natural areas that foster environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation.
1. TOURISM EXCELLENCE (20 marks)
a) Demonstrate your eligibility for this category as related to the descriptor above and provide a brief overview on the nature and history of the business. (6)
b) What ecotourism products, experiences and services do you offer guests/visitors? (7)
c) Describe how your business demonstrates excellence in ecotourism and exceeded industry standards for sustainability though the implementation of innovative practices and technologies. (7)
a) Take care to ensure you have entered the right category and that your response aligns to the category descriptor. Failure to demonstrate your eligibility will be reflected in your score. Refer to the ABOUT US section of your website as this may assist with this response. Judges will want to know how and when the business started, who works in the business, where it is located (a map would be helpful) and how it has developed over the years. Reference to relevant accreditation programs you participate in would enhance your response.
b) The focus of this question is tourism.
c) Refer to how your business fosters appreciation of natural resources and protects natural heritage, raises awareness among visitors and respects and involves stakeholders. This may include but not be limited to accreditation and recognition in award programs.
2. BUSINESS PLANNING (20 marks)
a) Provide an overview of the key features of your business plan including goals, strategies and outcomes and demonstrate how they link with the principles of ecologically sustainable tourism. (6)
b) Describe any innovations that have taken place during the qualifying period to improve your experience or business and demonstrate how these innovations enhance your ecotourism offering. (6)
c) What investment has been made in staff training and development and how has this improved the ecotourism services provided to your guests/visitors? (4)
d) Describe the main environmental, cultural and conservation risks for your tourism business and the risk mitigation measures you have implemented. (4)
a) Introduce this section with your mission and/or vision statement. A 3-column table would be useful here to display the information. Make sure you use measurable goals and outcomes. Ensure you focus on ecologically sustainable tourism activities.
b) This is a 2-part question. An innovation can be defined as “The process of introducing new or significantly improved goods or services and/or implementing new or significantly improved processes.” (Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics). Be sure to include the impact the innovation had on your ecotourism business.
c) Describe your commitment to training? How do you ensure you and/or your staff gain the correct knowledge and skills to carry out their job? Investment does not need to be financial.
d) Consider all aspects of business risk and ensure to focus on risks with the potential to impact your ecotourism initiative. This response is more than just workplace health and safety.
3. MARKETING (20 marks)
a) Who are the target markets for your ecotourism product? (4)
b) How do you know your ecotourism product/service meets the needs of your target markets? (4)
c) Describe how your business is competitively positioned in the marketplace through your ecotourism and sustainability philosophy and the methods you use to communicate this with your guests/visitors. (6)
d) Describe the innovative marketing strategies you have used to differentiate your ecotourism business and attract your target markets? Describe how sustainability is embedded into these strategies and demonstrate the success of these initiatives. (6)
This question seeks to understand who you have aimed your marketing towards.
Consider for example; who they are, where they are from, how old they are, how they purchase travel, what motivates and inspires them and how your product meets their expectations.
b) What research have you conducted or used to determine your target markets?
How do you know the target markets you identified in Q 3 a) are right for you?
c) What makes you different from your competitors? Ensure you focus on your ecotourism offerings. Consider for example; location, exclusivity, services, interpretations, access etc. What methods do you use to communicate these to the target markets you have mentioned in Q 3 a)?
d) What have you done differently to attract your customers? Consider for example; social media, digital advertising, apps. The response needs to focus on innovative approaches to marketing your ecotourism experience/product. Remember to also answer the second part of the question and expand on how these new/different/unique activities have been successful.
4. CUSTOMER SERVICE (20 marks)
a) Describe your customer service philosophy/values. (5)
b) Explain how you provide for guests/visitors with specific needs. (5)
c) Describe how you measure customer satisfaction and identify areas for improvement. (5)
d) What processes do you have in place to respond to customer complaints? (5)
a) Consider the systems and procedures you have in place to deliver outstanding service. How do you make an effort to understand their needs, welcome them, respect them, thank them and do business with them?
b) Demonstrate how you consider visitors’ special and specific needs. Think about who your customers are and their specific requirements.
c) What processes do you have in place to understand how your customer feels about your product service? For example; feedback forms, monitoring social media, blogs, mystery shoppers etc. Consider providing a case study/example where you have implemented a change based on customer feedback.
d) Consider how you receive feedback for example telephone, email or User Generated Content such as blogs and TripAdvisor. Explain how you respond to each of these different communication channels.
5. SUSTAINABILITY (20 marks)
a) Describe and provide evidence of positive commercial outcomes for your business and the local community as a result of the implementation of sustainability principles in your business operations. (6)
b) Demonstrate how your ecotourism business respects and involves the local community and fosters a greater understanding of conservation. (7)
c) What major initiatives have you introduced to reduce your environmental footprint? Provide quantitative information and evidence for these initiatives. (7)
a) This is a two-part question. Consider the quantifiable outcome for your business and the local community. For example; revenue for local businesses, local purchasing, employing locals etc.
b) Consider the social benefits you provide to your local community for example; engagement with community groups, local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, environmental groups etc. Ensure you link to conservation values.
c) Explain your commitment to environmental sustainability and provide evidence of any measurement of your environmental footprint (fuel, energy, carbon, water, waste). Detail the activities you conduct in relation to conserving and measuring water, waste management and energy.
Total score: 100 points. Site Inspection further 20 points.