Monday, 7 December 2009

Low emission tourism boost - Foreign visitors favouring carbon neutral

Northern Territory News
Wednesday 2/12/2009 Page: 26

FOREIGN holidaymakers are flocking to carbon-neutral tourism operators - with one company claiming 44% growth despite the global financial crisis. Way Outback Desert Safaris' operations manager Phil Taylor said next year's forward bookings already show a further 52% increase in business. "We cannot say that it is all because of carbon offsetting, but we can certainly say it is a strong influential factor in the decisions that the international clients are making," he said.

Mr Taylor said the operator signed up last year to the Outback Offsets program, which allows companies to purchase carbon credits from a green-friendly methane gas power plant in Darwin. "Like a lot of operators, we were sitting on the edge and saying 'is there a real advantage to doing it?'," he said.

Mr Taylor said after six months the customer surveys indicated people were choosing his company because it was carbon neutral. "I was in Europe 12 months ago and the big vibe in Germany and Holland was that people are thinking about this issue,' he said. "To not do it is a negative to our situation."

Tourism Minister Chris Burns yesterday invited tour companies to apply for grants from the $200,000 Environment Enhancement Fund. The grants will go towards infrastructure upgrades required by tourism businesses to become more green friendly. "Tourists are looking even more carefully these days about their carbon footprint," he said.