Nature-based tourism wins from regulatory reform

  • Streamlined sustainability audit process will cut costs and time for tourism operators
  • Businesses that meet certain accreditation requirements will meet performance requirements
  • Select businesses providing nature-based tourism in Western Australia’s national parks, marine parks and other reserves in the conservation estate will benefit from a new, streamlined audit process that will reduce cost and time burdens for operators.

    This outcome was a recommendation of the regulatory mapping and reform project on nature-based tourism undertaken by the McGowan Government and achieves more efficient process for businesses.

    Tourism businesses operating on restricted licences and certain tourism leases in the conservation estate undergo sustainability audits to monitor their achievement against key performance indicators, helping the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) ensure operators attain the high standards visitors expect. 

    These businesses include many of the more well-known and iconic wildlife and tour experiences in WA, such as whale shark and humpback tours on the Ningaloo coast, and scenic flights and 4WD experiences in the Kimberley.

    All tourism businesses licensed to operate in WA’s national parks must also be accredited by the Tourism Council of Western Australia (TCWA) or Ecotourism Australia to provide quality assurance to visitors that operations meet industry standards.

    DBCA has worked with TCWA and Ecotourism Australia to align key performance indicators with higher levels of environmental accreditation. This means operators that achieve these standards through TCWA or Ecotourism Australia will be deemed to have met DBCA’s performance requirements in most cases.

    Audits conducted for DBCA purposes are paid for by the operator and can cost several thousand dollars. They also demand time from the operator.

    The new streamlined process will be beneficial for operators and will drive the high standards expected of tourism businesses in the conservation estate.

    DBCA will continue to conduct sustainability audits in certain circumstances, including where there is concern about specific issues or where specialist advice is required.

    As stated by Environment Minister Reece Whitby:

    “The McGowan Government is removing administrative obstacles for businesses that operate in our parks while maintaining the rigorous accreditation process and standards Western Australians expect of these businesses.

    “These nature-based tourism operators are valued contributors to WA’s conservation estate and provide many of the iconic experiences that attract people to these amazing destinations and support our regional economies.

    “With the popularity of WA’s parks continuing to rise, this initiative will assist tourism operators to deliver quality experiences for visitors and drive best-practice.”

    As stated by Tourism Minister Roger Cook:

    “International tourists want to travel to experience natural experiences that you can’t get anywhere else in the world.

    “WA has the most extraordinary landscape and the opportunity to expand our high-range tourism options.

    “The McGowan Government is investing $17.7 million to develop new, environmentally sensitive tourism experiences and accommodation options in Western Australia’s national parks.

    “This new audit process reaffirms the commitment to develop new experiences with the right environment safeguards in place.”

    /Public Release. View in full here.