IF green is the new black then the Coffs Coast has struck gold becoming NSW’s first and only certified ECO Destination in what is seen as a vital win for the struggling North Coast city.
Coffs Harbor City Council spearheaded the rigorous 14-month certification process, which will draw today’s nature conscious ECO adventurers as travel re-opens.
Coffs Harbor’s fortunes as a tourist destination have ebbed and flowed down through the years since the days when it was a favored stopping off point for travellers battling up the old Pacific Hwy.
The new highway means Sydney to the Gold Coast is an easy one day drive , negating the need to stop over. And as NSW travellers discovered cheap overseas destination like Bali, North Coast resort towns suffered.
Now, the Coffs Coast’s ECO Destination Certification means the NSW coastal region is not only recognised for preserving its natural beauty, but is also sustainable in terms of giving back to the community and being culturally authentic.
To become an ECO Certified Destination, a minimum of 90 criteria points must be met based on the internationally accredited and recognised Green Destinations Standard comprising of seven main themes including:
- Destination management.
- Nature and scenery.
- Environment and climate.
- Culture and tradition.
- Social wellbeing.
- Business and hospitality.
- Ecotourism focused elements
“Ecotourism Australia is proud to have Coffs Coast join our family of certified ECO Destinations and be the first destination to achieve this status in NSW,” Rod Hillman, CEO at Ecotourism Australia (EA) said.
“This internationally recognised and independently audited certification means the region is demonstrating sustainability principles in how they manage their natural and cultural assets, but it is also about how they support the tourism industry to be sustainable.”
Far North Queensland’s Port Douglas Daintree is the only other Australian certified destination, helping travellers support better tourism for a more sustainable future.
“We live in a stunning region with careful and conscious tourism operators who will now rightfully earn a place amongst the growing number of consumers wanting their travel to support better outcomes for the planet,” Chris Chapman, Director of Sustainable Communities at Coffs Harbor City Council said.
The Coffs Coast is geographically unique as it is the only place in NSW where the Great Dividing Range meets the Pacific Ocean. The region has 13 national parks and many more state forests and reserves that extend from mountainous hinterland through to unspoiled coastline bordering the Solitary Islands Marine Park, the oldest marine park in NSW.
Awarded by Ecotourism Australia, this program is recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council through Green Destinations. It helps consumers make conscious choices and avoid fake greenwashing, and gives them confidence to spend their tourism dollar supporting sustainability, community, and Indigenous culture.
Coffs Harbor City Council has been supported in their work to gain certification for the destination, thanks to a partnership between Ecotourism Australia and WWF-Australia..
Search giant Google also supports this ECO Certification, showcasing the badge on its accommodation listings to help support first-class, nature-based tourism.
Old favorites like the Big Banana and the Clog Barn are still popular, but the Harbor precinct has been developed as a great spot to have lunch on a sunny day. And the harbor is gateway to the stunning islands and reefs offshore.
Resorts are dotted along the sparkling coastline north of the city and quality caravan and camping facilities abound. There’s two excellent championship golf courses and stunning drives through the hinterland to enjoy.
So, if you are looking for coastal resort town with the green, tropical touch and an easy drive from Sydney, gives Coffs a go in 2021.
Image: Enjoying Bindarri National Park.