What is ECO Destination Certification?

The ECO Destination Certification program assures travellers that certified destinations are backed by a strong, well-managed commitment* to ongoing improvement of sustainable practices and provide high-quality nature-based tourism experiences within the region.

The certification is for a region or destination with a clearly defined boundary. It requires one organisation, like the local council or local tourism organisation, to be responsible for the management of the certification, however, it assesses the entire region’s tourism destination management practices community-wide.

The ECO Destination program is a framework for the region to:

  • Build a business environment in which ecotourism thrives.
  • Ensure internal and external destination management practices are in line with international best practice sustainability standards.
  • Encourage high yield visitation by offering visitors an easy way of determining where genuine and authentic ecotourism experiences are found.
  • Join an established global network of like-minded destinations striving for ecotourism excellence and learn from each other’s best practice examples of sustainable tourism management.
  • Demonstrate that their sustainable and ecotourism credentials have been verified by a third-party independent auditor. (I.e. it is not just the destination saying it is sustainable; an industry expert has confirmed it.)

Completed via an online platform, the program allows for progression through three logical levels of certification, shown below.

Destination certification is about much more than the tourism sector: it's about real, tangible environmental sustainability being demonstrated by how the community as a whole operates.

Increasingly, visitors are demanding authentic, unique, and environmentally sustainable experiences. A core belief is that visitors experiencing certified ECO Destinations do notice the difference.

International Best Practise

This internationally recognised program combines Ecotourism Australia’s ecotourism criteria with the international best practice standard of Green Destinations 'Green Destinations Standard' for sustainable tourism.

As part of this international partnership with Green Destinations, all applicants and certified ECO Destinations also receive free submission into the Sustainable Destinations Top 100 competition. This is an optional addition.

Levels of ECO Destination Certification

Eco Certified Destination NT


A nature-based tourism destination with an emphasis on sustainable tourism, nature and environmental management through strong community and stakeholder connections.


Eco Certified Destination E


Nature-based tourism destination with a strong commitment to ecotourism principles. This involves cultural and natural interpretation and education for visitors, and local business engagement in sustainability.

Eco Certified Destination AE


Nature-based tourism destination with an in-depth demonstration of commitment to ecotourism principles across all aspects of the tourism industry and community. This involves management of nature, environment and culture, to not only preserve it but to improve these assets.
The certification is backed by Green Destinations and Accredited by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.


Click here for more information about the above levels.

For more information about the benefits, process, fees and support options of this program, check out the blue menu items on this page or download our ECO Destination Certification Essentials brochure here.

Who's in the program currently?

Below is a list of the current destinations within the program, are any nearby you?


Applicants - still working on demonstrating their ecotourism credentials:

  • Augusta-Margaret River, WA
  • Barrington Coast, NSW
  • Bellingen Shire, NSW
  • Blue Mountains, NSW
  • Bundaberg, QLD
  • Cassowary Coast, QLD
  • Central Coast, NSW
  • Coffs Coast, NSW
  • East Gippsland, VIC
  • Great Ocean Road, VIC
  • Kangaroo Island, SA
  • Lord Howe Island, NSW
  • Port Macquarie-Hastings, NSW
  • Quandamooka Country, QLD
  • Scenic Rim, QLD
  • Townsville, QLD
  • Wunambal Gaambera Country, WA
  • Coastal Bay of Plenty, NZ
  • Niue Island


Build back better with Ecotourism Australia's ECO Destination Program.

There is no doubt about it, these are incredibly difficult times for regional communities, many of whom have faced the multiplied impacts of COVID-19 and the 2019-20 bushfires, years of drought or other weather-related events. Tourism will come back, and when it does, people will have a desire to travel from their homes more than ever — but will your destination be ready? This 'time out' from tourism offers regions a chance to reassess and ensure that they continue down the road that is best for their community in the long-term.

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*It must be noted that sustainability is an ongoing journey of continuous improvement. Whilst destinations which apply for and achieve ECO Destination certification take significant steps to be as sustainable as possible, some challenges will require long-term investments of time, resources and political will. This program does not suggest that ECO certified destinations are perfect and have 'completed' a journey of sustainability. Rather, the certification denotes that a destination has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to the principles of sustainability for the region, as laid out in the ECO Destination Certification criteria, internationally recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council as best practice. You can find out more about these criteria, as well as our compliance and audit policies, by emailing us at