TOURISM BOOST: Coffs on track to become an eco-destination
THE Coffs Coast region is on track to become a certified eco-tourism destination in a bid to revitalise the local economy following last year's devastating bushfires.
The Coffs Coast is one of six bushfire-affected destinations that will begin their journey to become certified under a new partnership between WWF-Australia and Eco-tourism Australia.
Coffs Harbour City Council will receive a two-year $30,000 package to cover all costs to progress through the world-first ECO Destination program.
ECO certification allows for travellers to identify genuine nature and eco-tourism operators who are backed by a strong, well managed commitment to sustainable practices.
Council's industry and destination development section leader Fiona Barden said the certification would enable Coffs to thrive through long-term sustainable tourism.
"By working together with our key stakeholders, businesses and communities we can unite in the importance of becoming an ECO Destination, and deliver multiple benefits for our people and places," she said.
The Coffs Coast boasts a number of eco-tourism initiatives, with Bruxner Park already achieving certification in 2017.
Plans have also been proposed to establish self-guided car tours, walking tracks, horse trails and a mountain bike network throughout the Coffs hinterland as part of the Great Koala National Park proposal.
The proposal encompasses 315,000ha of prime koala habitat in a bid to conserve the state's vulnerable koala species.
Other destinations that will be supported under the new partnership between WWF-Australia and Eco-tourism Australia include the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Port Macquarie, Kangaroo Island and Scenic Rim.
Eco-tourism Australia's Chief Executive Rod Hillman said the six new additional destinations will join East Gippsland in Victoria and Quandamooka Country in Queensland in the program.
"We are working hard to support our tourism industry that has been hit hard in 2020 by bushfires and COVID and can see tangible benefits for regional tourism through this funding program," he said.