There’s a strong future for eco-tourism in NSW’s Blue Mountains, following the launch of a CRC for Low Carbon Living-funded program designed to promote businesses that reduce their carbon footprints.
The Blue Mountains Low Carbon Living program involves a website and app that supports and promotes low carbon businesses while also providing information to residents and visitors on supporting low carbon services.
According to CRCLCL project leader and executive director of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute Dr John Merson, the program could easily be transferred to other communities across Australia.
“Overall our audits reviewed the business’ energy, water and waste usage, advised on how to be more efficient in using carbon based resources, then assessed what they had done and calculated the carbon reduction. From this we provided a gold, silver or bronze rating for the website,” he said.
“Some businesses have achieved up to 15 per cent carbon reductions in one year with many having further plans to increase this figure by adding more solar or introducing water recycling for example.”
A number of Blue Mountains businesses have signed on, including hotels, restaurants, cafes, activity providers, and bed and breakfasts.
A visitor and resident survey found that 94 per cent of people were concerned about their carbon footprint and 85 per cent said they’d choose business services with a low carbon footprint. The hope is that by participating, businesses will see an increase in customers concerned with their environmental impact.
“The website is ultimately the way of promoting the businesses carbon reduction achievements and at the same time providing residents and visitors with the opportunity to support then by choosing their services,” Dr Merson said.
“The incentive for residents, and tourists is that by use these businesses they are lowering their own carbon footprint – so it’s a win-win situation.”
One local business, Silverware Guest House, reduced energy through solar panels, cut potable water use by 40 per cent and are planning other initiatives, like a solar-powered robotic lawn mower.
CRCLCL chief executive Deo Prasad said tourism made up 5.6 per cent of Australia’s emissions and that the roll-out of this program could make a dent.
“Now we have a proven low carbon audit system, website and app package available through this project, more business communities and carbon emission conscious individuals in Australia and around the world can benefit as it is rolled out and further developed,” he said.
“We are very pleased with what this project has achieved and what it has to offer for a low carbon future.”