Coffs Coast to Co-host Inaugural ECO Think Destination Forum

Coffs Harbour City

Ecotourism Australia’s first ever ECO Think Destination Forum is set to be held on Gumbaynggirr Country from the 22-25 March, bringing together regional stakeholders to discuss sustainable destination management.

Co-hosted by Coffs Harbour City Council and Bellingen Shire Council, the event is proudly supported by WWF-Australia, Destination North Coast and the Australian Government as part of the Recovery for Regional Tourism Fund. The ECO Think Destination Forum is Ecotourism Australia’s first major event focused solely on destinations, building on the organisation’s growing work with councils and regions across Australia through its ECO Destination Certification program.

Fiona Barden, Coffs Harbour City Council said: “We’re excited to be co-hosting the ECO Think Destination Forum as it aligns seamlessly with the Coffs Coast being recently announced as the first ECO Destination in NSW. This special event will provide an opportunity for Coffs Harbour City Council, local businesses and organisations to share their knowledge with sustainable tourism experts and strengthen their presence within our community.”

Ecotourism Australia Chair Dr Claire Ellis said that the event was a great opportunity for destination representatives to come together and share knowledge, be inspired and connect with representatives from other destinations also taking a more sustainable approach to their destination management. The forum is designed to be a two-way conversation about action and implementing change in region.

“We are really excited about our destination forum,” she said. “Since launching our ECO Destination Certification program in 2018 and seeing our first destination achieving certification that same year, we now have 18 destinations involved in the program and two of them (Douglas Shire and Coffs Coast) certified.

“As international borders reopen, it is even more critical for us to respond to the growing consumer demand for sustainability and quality nature-based destinations. We now have a globally accepted framework that demonstrates the value of a whole-of-destination, continuous improvement approach; with councils, tourism organisations, protected area management agencies and the local community working in partnership for the long-term benefit of the environment, residents and visitors.”

Topics to be addressed during the forum include: Nature and tourism as allies; Ecotourism, Community and culture; A business environment where ecotourism thrives, and Sustainability is in demand, now what?

The forum’s keynote speakers will include Tourism Australia’s Head of Sustainability, Penny Rafferty, TRC Tourism’s Penny Spoelder, Clark Webb of Gumbaynggirr Giingana Freedom School, Ann Walton of NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and local tourism operators Jetty Dive, Mount Browne Cottage, North Coast Regional Botanic Garden, Bellingen Nature Tours and Wajaana Yaam Adventure Tours.

For more information about the ECO Think Destination Forum, visit

/Public Release. View in full here.