Positioning Southern Gold Coast as Australia’s Leading Sustainability and Lifestyle Destination 

The Opportunity

Southern Gold Coast wishes to take first mover advantage of positioning itself as Australia’s most liveable and sustainable coastal region. This is in keeping with the vision and mission statements for Connecting Southern Gold Coast and will provide a powerful point of difference in how the region markets and promotes itself to residents, visitors and investors.

The timing for this achievement is particularly important given that the Commonwealth Games will be held on the Gold Coast in 2018 (this year). Four enabling or catalyst projects are underway:

  1. The region will become Australia’s first destination to be formally certified and recognised under the Global Sustainability Tourism Council (GSTC) destination criteria.
  2. Southern Gold Coast will partner with EarthCheck to assist local businesses together with key infrastructure and service providers to embrace sustainability in their mainstream business activities.
  3. The region will underpin its sustainability and liveability credentials through a visitor experience strategy that will help operators to engage visitors and residents in truly inspiring experiences that connect them with the region’s special places, events, people and cultures.
  4. EarthCheck and Southern Gold Coast will work with sustainability champions such as Currumbin RSL to provide workshops, training and resources to support sustainable operators in the region.

Understanding Sustainability

All tourism activities of whatever motivation- holidays, business travel, conferences, adventure travel and ecotourism- need to be sustainable. Sustainable tourism is defined as “tourism that respects both local people and the traveller, cultural heritage and the environment”. It seeks to provide people with an exciting and educational holiday that is also of benefit to the people of the host country.[1]

Sustainable tourism is not a special form of tourism; rather all forms of tourism may strive to be more sustainable.[2] A clear distinction should be made between the concepts of ecotourism and sustainable tourism: “the term ecotourism itself refers to a segment within the tourism sector with focus on environmental sustainability, while the sustainability principles should apply to all types of tourism activities, operations, establishments and projects, including conventional and alternative forms”.[3]

Sustainable tourism describes policies, practices and programmes that take into account not only the expectations of tourists regarding responsible natural-resource management (demand), but also the needs of community that support or are affected by tourism projects and the environment (supply). Sustainable tourism thus aspires to be more energy efficient and more “climate sound” (e.g. by using renewable energy); consume less water; minimise waste; conserve biodiversity, cultural heritage and traditional values; and generate local incomes and integrate local communities with a view to improving livelihoods and reducing poverty. Making tourism businesses more sustainable benefits local communities and raises awareness and support for the sustainable use of natural resources.

Supporting our Local Champions


The Currumbin RSL Group (Group) has led the way through both its commitment to join the EarthCheck benchmarking program and the sustainable vision for the Group which is to reduce the Group’s footprint and create a social hub which brings the community together in a sustainable environment.


Queensland Airports Limited has a holistic approach to environmental sustainability, establishing the ‘QAL Sustainability Pathway’ to address both  environmentally friendly options and business efficiency. Through education, monitoring and communication, QAL have implemented initiatives at Gold Coast Airport to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with an ongoing commitment to being as environmentally efficient as possible.


Dedicated to making sustainability an important driver for business growth, Envirotech delivers a range of environmental courses with sustainability at its centre. Their third campus in Currumbin Valley is the focal point of their Environmental Sustainability Hub, providing the ideal learning experience for members of the community seeking tertiary education.


Aluminium cans are the most sustainable packaging option for beverages, motivating Balter Brewing Company to use cans as the vehicle for their beer products. Their lighter weight and better storage not only contribute to lower transport emissions but are recyclable, dramatically reducing their carbon footprint. 


Since 1915, Freeman’s Organic Farm have adopted sustainable and organic farming methods to produce a range of spray and chemical free fruit, vegetables and herbs to the local community. The farm café adopts the same beliefs, using only Australian certified organic products.


John Flynn Private Hospital has established a Green Team Committee, promoting awareness and resource efficiency to staff. Through these combined efforts, the hospital has seen a decrease in waste, pollutants, electricity costs and water usage as well as an increase in recycled materials.


Aiming to minimise the impact of events on the environment, Climate Wave Enterprises work to promote the practices of sustainable event management, green supply chains and cutting edge sustainability knowledge to event organisers around Australia and overseas.


Committed to becoming a waste free and sustainable restaurant, Tugun’s House of Hubert believes in local food systems, supporting local farmers with a paddock to plate philosophy and the benefits of sustainable practices. Through small scale initiatives such as composting, they are actively reducing their footprint on the environment.

[1] The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, Teaching and Leading for a Sustainable Future, 2010

[2] The United Nations Environment Programme and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, Making Tourism More Sustainable- A guide for Policy Makers, 2005

[3] International Year of Ecotourism 2002, UNEP