Australian Grants Help Tourism Industry on the Path to Sustainability

While tourism experts gathered in Rio de Janeiro to discuss green innovation in tourism at a special tourism event at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20) recently, the Australian government was taking measures to increase the energy efficiency of its tourism industry by awarding over 1 million Australian Dollars in Energy Efficiency Information Grants to help tourism businesses.

The grants, which form part of the Australian Government´s $40 million Energy Efficiency Information Grants Program, are awarded on the basis of merit under the nation´s plan for a Clean Energy Future. The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) and the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) were awarded $612,040 and $423,690 respectively during the first round of funding last month.

As discussed by participants at the Rio +20 event ´Green Innovation in Tourism,´ a shift to more sustainable practices in the industry is a key part of the future of tourism.

Brazilian Minister of Tourism Gastão Dias Vieira, who participated in the event, highlighted that there can be no economic growth in tourism without sustainability, and without the conservation of natural resources. Shifts in tourism practices can produce major benefits such as an increase in jobs, lower costs and reduced environmental impacts, the event concluded.

A shift in tourism practices was also cited as bringing competitive advantages to companies and destinations, enhancing the visitor experience and encouraging other sectors to move toward more sustainable practices.

While being green is often associated with increased costs for businesses, this is not necessarily the case, as stated by Alain Dupeyras, Head of the Tourism Unit at OED´s Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs and Local Development, another participant in the Rio +20 events.

Recipients of the Australian Government´s Energy Efficiency Information Grants come from a broad range of sectors including tourism, agriculture, automotive, manufacturing and retail. The grants aim to provide funding to industry associations and non-profit organizations who work with small and medium businesses and community organizations to provide information on the smartest way to use energy. The first round of grants was awarded in April and the second round will be awarded in October.