Ecotourism for the Conscious Traveller


What is ecotourism, why is it important and how do you know if the Australian tourism operator you're using is certified?

The term ecotourism sits as a definitive guideline for the conscious traveller.

We are often told it’s the little things we do that count. Shop local, buy consciously and travel lightly. In a culture where people are looking for positive choices, it’s no wonder that ecotourism operators are becoming the norm and almost expected, especially in a country like Australia.

Tourism operators have a duty of care to protect the environment they operate within. Since Whitsunday Rent-A-Yacht specialises in skipper yourself yacht charters within a world-class location, we do what we can to protect our local environment and adhere to ecotourism guidelines.

You can learn about how we are an Eco-Certified and sustainable tourism operator. First, let’s look more broadly at what ecotourism is and what to look for if you are planning to travel consciously in Australia.


ecotourism australia

What’s the difference between ecotourism and sustainable tourism?

Sustainable tourism:

According to the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), sustainable tourism is tourism development with a balance between environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects:

“Sustainability principles refer to the environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development. A suitable balance must be established between these three dimensions to guarantee its long term sustainability.” 


For Ecotourism Australia, the definition of ecotourism is:

“Ecologically sustainable tourism primarily focuses on experiencing natural areas that foster environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation.”
Ecotourism should provide direct financial benefits for conservation and local people and is focused on the conservation of natural resources. For this reason, Whitsunday Rent a Yacht focuses our service on eco-tourism principles.

ecotourism whitsundays sailing

Why is ecotourism important?

A sustainable alternative to conventional tourism, ecotourism refers to minimising the potential negative impacts of tourism. It focuses on protecting the environment or culture where a tourism activity occurs and promotes environmental education and conservation.

Generally speaking, ecotourism is incredibly important for supporting communities and the environment in which they live. Economic benefits are gained through things like employment, but not at the expense of the local environment and its long-term health.

While the benefits of ecotourism are more obviously local, it has a rippling effect. Visitors are allowed to enjoy the local wildlife and untouched environments, and it’s through this inspiring experience that positive actions can be widespread.

When an area of natural beauty is enjoyed through a supplier who provides education, travellers increase their awareness around conserving resources, avoiding waste, buying local and protecting ecosystems. And, when they get home or jump on Insta, they spread the message to their families and friends, so the positive effect continues.

Ecotourism in Australia and what to look for

Australia’s Eco Certification Program was developed to identify genuine ecotourism and nature tourism operators in Australia. A word first, there are three levels of accreditation available: Nature Tourism, Ecotourism and Advanced Ecotourism.

Operators are assessed on their economic, environmental and social sustainability. Ecotourism principles such as business ethics, responsible marketing, contribution to conservation and working with communities are also evaluated.

The program has been so successful that it is now being exported to the rest of the world as the International Ecotourism Standard.

If you’re travelling to Australia and want to use genuine eco-friendly tourism operators, look for this logo:

Eco Certified

You can also check the Green Travel Guide on the Ecotourism Australia website to ensure that the operator you are considering is accredited.

Ecotourism whitsundays

Whitsunday Rent a Yacht is a certified ecotourism operator

We are committed to sustainable tourism, and to ensuring that the Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef remain healthy environments now and well into the future.

Ecotourism Australia’s Eco Certification Program accredited Whitsundays Rent-a-Yacht in 2009. After ten years, we recently became certified Green Travel Leaders. This ecotourism certification assures consumers that we are committed to the environment and Australian best practices.

Eco Tourism Green Leader

Sailing holidays attract travellers who enjoy being in nature. When you charter with us, you have the freedom to explore the unspoiled Whitsunday Islands and partake in many nature-based activities such as kayaking, sailing, hiking, stargazing, snorkelling and whale watching. A yacht charter is the perfect holiday for an ecotourist!

We’re also proactive with environmental action by:

  • Donating old yacht blankets and out-of-date first aid supplies to the local turtle rescue centre.
  • Supporting the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s (GBRMPA) commitment to protecting the Reef.
  • Providing leftover soap from our sailing charters to Soap Aid, a foundation that delivers recycled soap bars to disadvantaged communities in Australia and overseas. So far, Soap Aid has prevented over 170 tonnes of soap from going to landfill.
  • Each vessel in our fleet is fitted with an on-water Eco Guide, which covers an environmental code for our guests to apply to their experience. Environmental guidelines cover activities such as snorkelling, fishing, zoning, whale watching, waste management, and correct public mooring and anchoring procedures.
  • Charterers are asked to report interesting wildlife sightings, especially any injured wildlife.

Ecotourism photo of whitsundays drone

At Whitsunday Rent-A-Yacht, we sincerely believe that as tourism operators, it’s our job to educate, minimise our impact on the natural environment and do what we can to make socially conscious practices a part of our business’s culture.

We hope that by maintaining a high ecotourism standard, we are doing our bit to preserve the Whitsundays so that visitors can enjoy their natural beauty in years to come. The positive impact an ecotourism experience can offer a traveller is immediate and personal, but its effects can be far-reaching.


If you would like to sail the Whitsundays with an eco-certified provider

  Contact us on 1800 075 000 or

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Whitsunday Rent a Yacht acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and in particular the Traditional Owners of the Whitsunday's Region, the Gia, Juru and Ngaro People; We recognise their continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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