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Tuesday, 18 September 2012
Page: 11119

Mr ENTSCH (LeichhardtChief Opposition Whip) (16:06): I rise today to welcome to Far North Queensland an event which is a fantastic opportunity for our tourism industry: the 20th Global Eco Asia-Pacific Tourism Conference. Taking place in Cairns from 15 to 17 October this year, the conference will see industry leaders from around the world offer their insights into responsible tourism, sustainability, Indigenous tourism and successful ecomarketing. I congratulate the organisers for choosing Leichhardt and Cairns to host the event, especially as 2012 marks the 20th conference for Ecotourism Australia and 10 years since the International Year of Ecotourism.

Personally I am very supportive of moves towards being ecoconscious in the tourism industry. This region is built on its natural beauty, unique ecosystems and rugged wilderness areas, and they are certainly our most valuable assets. I congratulate operators who have moved to embrace sustainability. Not only will their actions help to protect these assets but they will be adding an extra bow to the tourism product already on offer. It is clear that ecotravel is a booming market as people's awareness of it rapidly grows, as does their enthusiasm to seek out eco-friendly activities and accommodation.

Last month I was very pleased to attend the opening of the first eco-friendly cabin in the BIG4 Cairns Crystal Cascades Holiday Park, owned and operated by Russell and Jenine Drayton. It was a huge financial investment that they have put into it, and it is set in the beautiful Redlynch Valley. I commend the Australian government's T-QUAL grants program, which certainly helped them in accessing funding to embrace these sustainable practices. In the World Heritage Daintree Rainforest, tourism operators have carried out eco-friendly activities for many years so as not to compromise their surrounding environment. Most well known is the Daintree Eco Lodge, which has won over 40 major awards and just last year was named Best Luxury Eco Tourism in the World. The lodge operates at the highest standards to ensure its natural and cultural environment is managed ethically and operated profitably while offering guests a unique experience. A personal favourite of mine is the boutique motel Lync Haven, which showcases the area's unique animal species and helps to educate visitors about the value and diversity of the rainforest. Scott and Jodie Hamill do an outstanding job there.

In closing, I have no doubt that the speakers attending next month's ecoconference will bring with them a wealth of expertise and ideas, but I also know that they will leave Far North Queensland with a new insight into ecotourism opportunities thanks to the experience and knowledge of our local operators.