November 9, 2022 | By Graeme Kemlo

In the wash-up of Victoria’s unprecedented natural events – bushfires, pandemic and climate change – there’s a positive move to not merely offer sustainable travel, but to embrace regenerative tourism.

Phillip Island is one of the first regions in Victoria to move from sustainable tourism to regenerative tourism, described as “adopting a purpose beyond profit, giving back more than we take and leaving places better than we found them”.

In the business events sector it is a move that could lift the appeal of a destination, a meeting venue or a tour operator, as much as CSR did in the 1970s in the USA when the idea of a social contract between an organisation and society emerged.

General manager of Destination Phillip Island, Kim Storey, said she was excited to announce the region’s regenerative move, in a post on LinkedIn.  More than a dozen representatives of local stakeholders attended the workshop which was led by international regenerative business strategist Matt Sykes

The project has already begun to build alliances, as evidenced by the attendee list: Phillip Island Nature Parks, Wildlife Coast Cruises, Bass Coast Shire Council, Totally Renewable Phillip Island, Westernport Water, The Sheltered Glamping Co and Destination Phillip Island Regional Tourism Board.

About one hour southeast of Melbourne, Phillip Island and the Bass Coast Shire have about 40,000 residents and 180km of coastline, but absorb more than 2.5 million visitors a year to hospitality venues, holiday homes and major events, such as the international MotoGP motorcycle event held last weekend.

It also has a strong claim as one of Australia’s most popular eco-tourism destinations, particularly with the little penguins that attract 700,000 visitors a year, plus koalas and other marine wildlife.

For its part, the Bass Coast Shire Council has already achieved Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) certification and Phillip Island Nature Parks has entered the  Ecotourism Australia Hall of Fame for being continuously eco-certified for 20 years.

Storey said the “regen” project was now working towards actionable steps for the industry and the community.

“By embracing the strengths of First Nations, European and diverse cultural perspectives, we aim to contribute to building communities’ long-term capacity to adapt and thrive,” she said.