Case Study: Tourism

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Background

The Environmental Enhancement Fund is an initiative which supports actions 30.1, 30.2 and 30.3 under the Northern Territory Climate Change Policy, all of which underpin the target of positioning the Northern Territory as a leading green tourism destination.

Enhancing environmental sustainability is a key theme within the Northern Territory’s Five Year Tourism Strategic Plan 2008 - 2012.  Tourism NT actively encourages the tourism industry to minimise environmental impact through the adoption and promotion of sustainable initiatives.  In addition to a significant focus on education and business mentoring, providing funding support to encourage businesses to implement projects which minimise their environmental impact is a key feature of Tourism NT’s strategy. 

 

Overview of the Environmental Enhancement Fund 

The Environmental Enhancement Fund was launched in November 2009 with the aim of providing businesses with financial assistance to contribute to the capital costs of projects which reduce energy, water or fuel consumption.

The fund was designed to be used as a standalone program or to leverage other programs such as the Alice Solar City initiative or ecoBiz NT.  The program enabled assistance to be provided to a business to raise the necessary capital for a project if it was otherwise unable to do so, or it extended the capacity of the business to undertake a broader range of projects identified by Alice Solar City or ecoBiz NT than they otherwise might have been able to implement.  

The businesses supported through the Environmental Enhancement Fund become “sustainability champions” in their market segment or region.  This is an important process as it allows the actions taken by these businesses to be highlighted within the industry to stimulate other businesses to take action.  It also enables their green initiatives to be promoted to consumers and travel trade channels, supporting the positioning of the Northern Territory as a green tourism destination. 

 

Projects supported by the Environmental Enhancement Fund 

In 2009/10, eleven businesses were supported with $156 187 in funding.   

  • Eight businesses installed solar photovoltaic panels under a commercial program available through Alice Solar City, with additional support provided by Tourism NT.  In most instances, the businesses supported by the Environmental Enhancement Fund would not have been able to capitalise on the support offered by Alice Solar City as the balance of funding required after their rebates were applied remained out of reach.  The installation of solar panels has driven the businesses to look for more opportunities to reduce their energy consumption to maximise the benefits of their renewable energy supply.
     
  • One accommodation business installed timer switches on each room in the property, reducing the amount of electricity consumed at times when guests were not occupying their rooms.
     
  • One touring company installed a system called ‘EcoShot’ on their entire vehicle fleet.  This system ignites a mix of air and gas in the chamber creating heat which burns the diesel fuel at a higher level, and has enabled the company to reduce fuel consumption by approximately 30%.
     
  • The fund enabled another touring company to purchase two Rota-Loos, which are waterless, composting toilets to be installed in their safari camp located in a Territory national park.  Prior to installing this infrastructure, the business had to relocate the drop toilets each year, increasing their footprint in a protected area.  This system eliminates that annual requirement and provides a higher quality guest experience.

Lessons Learnt and the re-design of the Environmental Enhancement Fund for 2010/11

The key steps for a business in moving towards a more sustainable way of operating include:

  • Making a commitment within the business to sustainability – demonstrated by policies and procedures which support this objective.

  • Measuring consumption/current impact.

  • Conducting an audit of the business to identify opportunities for improvement in energy, water, waste.

  • Prioritising the opportunities, goal setting and developing and implementing the action plan.

  • Monitoring ongoing performance.

  • Marketing performance outcomes

The Environmental Enhancement Fund initially targeted the latter stages of the above cycle, which were focused on the implementation stage.  However it is clear that businesses that undertake a comprehensive approach to sustainability need to start at an earlier stage of the process to ensure sustainable operating practices are embedded into the culture of the business, which leads to more successful outcomes. 

Consequently the activities for which businesses may apply for funding support through the Environmental Enhancement Fund were reviewed and the scope of the program has been broadened to include a wider range of activities, including;

  • Engaging an environmental management consultant to support a business to develop policies, action plans, identify opportunities etc.

  • Engaging an environmental auditor to identify actions to improve environmental performance specific to the business

  • Subsidising the cost of transitioning into Ecotourism Australia’s EcoCertification from other accreditation programs

  • Subsidising the cost of a business undertaking Climate Action Certification (also run by Ecotourism Australia)
     
  • Subsidising the cost of a business providing accredited ‘Green Skills’ training for their staff

  • Subsidising the cost of a business purchasing software or participating in a program which allows them to measure their environmental/carbon footprint

  • Implementing projects which reduce energy, water, fuel consumption, or better waste management (such as those funded under the 2009/10 Environmental Enhancement Fund)

  • Support to implement carbon offsetting strategies (e.g. consultants fees)

  • Other opportunities that relate to the above steps.

Following the success of this program in 2009/10, $200 000 in funding has been allocated for 2010/11 and in turn this will enable Tourism NT to support more businesses.

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