Tourism Climate Heroes

We all have an important role to play in helping Queensland transition to a clean growth, low carbon economy.

Tourism businesses across Queensland are achieving cost savings with new advances in renewable energy and efficiency, joining the growing alliance of climate heroes.

Sustainability is at the forefront in the tourism industry, with tourists around the world becoming increasingly environmentally-aware.

The following case studies show that with early action, everyone can profit.

Pumpkin Island, Southern Great Barrier Reef

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Pumpkin Island sits in the Southern Great Barrier Reef’s Keppel group of islands, 14 kilometres off the coast of Yeppoon. Just six hectares in total, Pumpkin Island Retreat offers guests eco-friendly accommodation in seven self-catering units that are powered by the wind and the sun.

Pumpkin Island Retreat has improved its business profitability and achieved a strong international reputation through its sustainability initiatives. It is Australia’s first carbon positive island resort and offsets 150% of its annual carbon emissions.

  • Cost savings through solar: Solar power fridges have reduced the resort’s use of LPG fuel by 88 per cent and removed the need to transport fuel to the island from the main land, resulting in significant cost savings.
  • Enhanced reputation through sustainability: Pumpkin Island’s beyond carbon neutral status has been a significant drawcard for environmentally-aware international tourists, along with its work to conserve local wildlife, such as dolphins and turtles. Its reputation was further enhanced when it won the 2018 Boutique Hotel award for Australasia’s most sustainable hotel.
  • Greater energy efficiency: Pumpkin Island powers its water pump, fans, lights and fridges, coffee machines, bar and office with 12-volt solar and wind power. Each cottage has an average-size fridge, barbecue grill and plate, and a stove top kettle. Small appliances such as toasters and hair dryers are not available and guests are encouraged to be conservative with energy usage.
  • Improved water efficiency: Water is a precious resource on the island. Each of the cottages has a ceramic bench top filter that is topped up regularly to ensure a supply of pure filtered rain water for drinking.
  • Reduced waste: The resort seeks to minimise its waste and guests are invited to bring refillable drink water bottles to help reduce plastic pollution. This results in a more enjoyable environment for guests and reduces costs associated with waste removal.

Emporium Hotel South Bank

Emporium Hotel South Bank

The Emporium Hotel South Bank promotes sustainability through energy, water and waste management efficiency. In 2017 it was awarded EarthCheck Design Certification—the first hotel in Australia to achieve this.

Through clever building design and business practices, the Emporium Hotel South Bank has improved its sustainability and guest experience, while also reducing operational costs. The hotel’s focus on design and sustainability has given it a reputation for outstanding guest comfort.

  • Optimum comfort through clever design: The hotel’s building structure and orientation have been designed to capture maximum natural light, ventilation and heating, while also reducing operational costs through energy savings. Features include a window-to-floor ratio of 30 per cent to ensure that natural light and breezes reach the building without overheating the rooms. Optimum choices for insulation and glazing further achieve outstanding thermal comfort. The use of concrete on the hotel’s façade captures and traps natural solar heat to prevent it from entering internal air conditioned spaces.
  • Water efficiency: The hotel’s water management practices range from the use of rainwater for irrigation and toilet flushing to the installation of highly efficient tapware. Three star Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) rated tapware is used in showers and six star WELS is used for other tapware. The predicted water consumption of 194 litres per guest per night represents a seven per cent improvement on EarthCheck’s best practice benchmarks for water consumption.
  • Waste management: The projected quantity of waste sent to landfill represents a three per cent improvement on EarthCheck’s best practice benchmarks within the same climate zone and accommodation sector. One way this has been achieved is through food waste management, utilising next generation dehydration machines to reduce the volume and weight of food waste by up to 90 per cent using water and energy-efficient control processes.

Fun Over Fifty

Bush Walking with Nature Guide at Carnarvon Gorge

Since Fun Over Fifty began in 2002, the Brisbane tour company has grown from offering coach, rail, air and cruise holidays for the over 50s market in Australia to exploring worldwide destinations.

Fun Over Fifty enjoys cost savings and offers engaging and fun guest experiences through a range of sustainability initiatives.

  • Cost savings through energy efficiency: Fun Over Fifty has cut $2000 a year from its electricity bills by taking simple steps like switching power off at its source. The business has also saved on printing costs by limiting communication to emails. Recycled paper is used for brochures, forms and itineraries.
  • Carbon offsetting: Fun Over Fifty offsets its carbon emissions through tree planting. The business has planted more than 14,000 trees, saving more than 1600 tonnes of carbon emissions. Staff and guests plant more than 400 trees annually. The business’s Being Seen Being Green policy means guests are invited to plant native trees, plants or herb gardens, and take part in fun sustainability initiatives.
  • Enhanced reputation through Climate Action Leadership: Fun Over Fifty has achieved Ecotourism Australia’s Climate Action Leader status by demonstrating an advanced level of adaptation, emissions reduction and offsetting. The business partners with Greenfleet to offset its coach mileage and thousands of flights by planting native trees in permanent forests.
  • Cost savings through Green Guest Policy: The business’s Green Guest policy allows guests to waive their daily room clean to reduce their impact on resources and the environment. In 2017–18, 33 hotels participated in the program, and more than 1710 room cleans have been forfeited by Fun Over Fifty guests, saving more than $34,000 off the cost of their tour package fees.
  • Reduced carbon footprint through local sourcing: Fun Over Fifty works with catering suppliers to source seasonal, locally grown produce. The business has its own staff vegetable garden and fruit orchard at their head office. Food scraps are recycled and there is a No Plastic On-tour policy.

What tourism businesses can do

Find out how you can take advantage of new opportunities in the low carbon economy.

  • Reduce your energy bills
  • Calculate your carbon footprint
  • Offset your carbon emissions
  • Reduce your waste
  • Educate your customers about sustainable practices.

If you’re already enjoying the benefits of greater sustainability, we’d love to hear your story. Contact us at

Additional resources

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