Blog post

Nurturing Nature & Delegates

Business events can reduce their environmental impact, ensure events are staged with a greater purpose, and provide a sense of achievement for delegates who attend.

“We want that too,” Rosie Douglas, general manager of Business Events Cairns & Great Barrier Reef says. “The Australian bureau works with operators that lead the way for your eco-sustainable event. An hour north of Cairns, Port Douglas Daintree was the first in the world to achieve Ecotourism Australia’s ECO Destination Certification, we know how to deliver on a green promise.”

The region at the tip of Queensland is home to the highest amount of eco-sustainable and culturally responsible certified tourism operators in Australia. As custodians for two World Heritage-listed icons; the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest, implementing eco-sustainable measures to lessen an event’s environmental impact is second nature to the Cairns & Great Barrier Reef business events operators.

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, 10 minutes north of Cairns CBD, is a leader in eco-sustainable tourism. One of the first in the world to hold EarthCheck’s Master Certification – “only nine others have achieved this globally,” Douglas adds – they are natural hosts to introduce delegates to the world’s oldest rainforest.

It’s everyone’s job

The region created Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef to harness the human interest in the planet’s iconic natural wonder and mobilise them to protect, experience and learn about the World Heritage area.

Delegates can become citizens and contribute by volunteering. “Reef Restoration Foundation created the first Great Barrier Reef coral nursery at Fitzroy Island. They grow coral on frames and then replant them on nearby reefs, accelerating the growth process enabling reefs to recover from bleaching and cyclone damage faster.” The idea that delegates can actively contribute to reef health through the Foundation, is a massive delegate booster, explains Douglas.

Contrary to popular belief, visiting the Great Barrier Reef is one of the single best ways delegates can help in its conservation. Every visitor to the reef pays an Environmental Management Charge which contributes to the day-to-day management of the Marine Park and funding the research that is improving its long-term resilience. This charge also helps contribute to the Great Barrier Reef’s status of the world’s best managed reef.

Working closely with the conservation platform Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef since 2018, Calypso Reef Cruises has evolved its sustainability practices and interpretation tools. Their parent company, Experience Co is a Founding Citizen and has since created “GBR Biology”, a marine biology department embedded in Calypso Reef Cruises.

GBR Biology creates an immersive educational experience based on world heritage values delivered and led by university-trained marine biologists and Master Reef Guides. This includes contributions to ongoing research projects through place-based learning projects.

Venues with a second life

On your transfers to and from conference venues, activities and off-site dinner locations, swaying palms entice you along, and sugar cane fields line the roadsides. Ninety-five percent of Australia’s sugar cane is found in Queensland. With the majority now harvested green, not burned, and the trimmed leaves left as mulch, not only does a sugar cane field nurture itself but it makes the perfect event back drop as well.

In Cairns & Great Barrier Reef, three bespoke working cane farms can host unforgettable product launches, mesmerising open-air gala dinners, and welcome cocktail functions at golden hour as the sun is setting behind the Great Dividing Range. Douglas states, “By day, the farm machinery is doing all the work and by night, the natural dance floor is getting a work out under the stars.”

The upcycling doesn’t stop with cane farms; converted World War II naval oil storage tanks in the Cairns Botanic Gardens now welcome business events. Three of the five original concrete tanks make up the Tanks Art Centre, nestled amongst the rainforest pockets at the base of Mount Whitfield. Tanks 3, 4 and 5 all boast different features; the largest is climate controlled with a full stage, the smallest is home to a permanent art gallery and the last, a blank slate flexible to host any set up.

A greater purpose

Outside ticking the boxes for eco-sustainable practices, business events also present an opportunity for delegates to relocate for a few days and get a new perspective. Consider the benefits for attendees that can be provided by a break from routine, being surrounded by new peers and in an entirely different setting. Douglas explains, “they’re given time to hit all the ‘re’ buzz words; refresh, reset, and reconnect.”

Cairns & Great Barrier Reef takes this one step further and offers an awe-inspiring landscape with the world’s oldest rainforest and the world’s largest coral reef system, both nurtured by the oldest continuously living cultures of First Nations people, to ensure delegates leave greater.

Careful planning for what delegates leave Cairns & Great Barrier Reef with, as well as leave behind, is ingrained in daily operations. “We know that surrounding your team with great, leaves your business greater.” Douglas continues, “our operators have stories to share that will ensure delegates leave as custodians of our region.”

Forget the float tanks, and float along the crystal-clear Mossman River on your own inflatable. The only river snorkelling tour in Australia is with Back Country Bliss Adventures, your natural classroom to learn more about the Wet Tropics Rainforest. Say hello to freshwater turtles and colourful fish before stepping out with silky smooth skin as though you’ve just departed a five-star day spa.

“Providing a sense of accomplishment with delegates obtaining new learnings from a conference, celebrating the strength of your team, making genuine connections to new industry partners and suppliers, or making the world just a little bit better through spending a day on the Great Barrier Reef, should be on everyone’s event checklist.”