Ecotourism is a term used a lot these days. Redlands Kayak Tours is proud to be a certified ecotourism operator. But what does it mean for the customer, and why did our business want to become certified by Ecotourism Australia?
Firstly, what is ecotourism? The Ecotourism Australia definition is:
“Ecotourism is ecologically sustainable tourism with a primary focus on experiencing natural areas that fosters environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation.”
Beyond the definition, ecotourism is about offering tourism activities and experiences which:
• have a low impact on the environment,
• promote environmental sustainability,
• enable animals and plants to be observed in their natural habitats,
• foster cultural understanding of the area and its peoples, and
• enable the economic development of local people.
What better way to tick all the boxes than to come kayaking the Redlands Coast – in the naturally wonderful Moreton Bay (a Marine Park and wetlands area protected under the Ramsar convention)
Kayaking has a very low impact on the environment – the only consumables are the foods consumed by the engine – that is – you! Our tours are conducted at high tide, preventing any collision damage with corals or plants.
We leave no waste behind, in fact on most tours we inevitably come away with more rubbish than we go in with, as our guides, and increasingly our guests, pick up any floating bottles and waste that they encounter. The refreshments we serve after returning are either organic (with any waste ending up in our home compost bin) or home-cooked and stored in reusable containers.
Our guests enjoy observing our plant and bird-life in their natural habitats. With luck and in the right conditions, they gain even more pleasure from seeing sting-rays, turtles, dolphins and even the occasional dugong. Seeing a pod of dolphins feeding by herding schools of fish is a wonderful experience, only observable in the wild.
Over the years we have found that what our guests are looking for in a tour has changed subtly. Increasingly, they are seeking a better understanding of the environment. Our guides provide interpretational information to assist with better environmental and cultural understanding.
We are a locally based business, owned by Redlands locals, employing Redlands locals.
Interestingly, most of our customers live within about an hour’s drive of our tour sites. Their feedback is telling us they are looking for a fun activity in which they can experience the best of what their local environment has to offer.
For Redlands Kayak Tours, it was a natural progression to seek certification from Ecotourism Australia. Whilst certification was a goal in itself, and a great milestone to achieve, the real value for our business was in the lead up to, and since, the certification stage.
Preparing for certification gave us the impetus to review our strategic and business plans, and importantly the way in which we operated. We thought we had been low impact before, but looking at our operations in a new way enabled us to make further improvements – lowering our impact even further, but also lowering our costs. The other shift for us was in preparing interpretational material for our tours, adding extra value and interest for our customers.
Now that we have the certification, our marketing approach is starting to change as we look to match our products with the growing demand for eco-tourism. In response to this demand, we have introduced overnight sea-kayaking tours which will give our customers even more opportunities to experience the naturally wonderful Redlands Coast.
For your next ecotourism experience along Redlands Coast, you might want to consider Redlands Kayak Tours.