Robert Pennicott is a pioneer of eco-tourism. His tour businesses, Pennicott Wilderness Journeys, paved the way for sustainability best practices in the industry and helped put Tasmania on the world stage.

Earlier this year, Destination Byron welcomed Robert as the 2019 Tourism Symposium’s keynote speaker. Speaking off the cuff, he delivered several key insights that boiled down to one fundamental truth – sustainability cannot just be a word.

Keynote speaker Robert Pennicott, Managing Director of Pennicott Wilderness Journeys, at the 2019 Tourism Symposium

Community sustainability

Tourism businesses have to live and breathe sustainability – and that goes far beyond environmental sustainability. Robert emphasised the importance of community sustainability. The community cannot be separated from a region’s visitors and the tourism industry.

The staff that make or break a visitor’s experience come from the local community. Tourism product and service providers should invest in staff training, offering locals a rewarding career. Incredibly, over the past decade, Pennicott Wilderness Journeys turned over just six staff members out of 120.

Businesses within a community must collaborate, too – and that includes businesses outside of the tourism industry.

Finally, tourism operators should give back to the community where possible. Robert hosts clean-ups, funds swimming programs, invests in island restoration, and even created his own community-minded foundation. To date, Pennicott Wilderness Journeys has donated to more than 460 organisations.

Unlocking the potential for tourism in Australia

Australia has enormous untapped potential for tourism – in both big cities and regional areas. In the future, Robert predicts that both domestic and international visitors will be looking for authenticity, niche experiences, an opportunity to live like a local.

Visitors will stay for longer and venture further afield.

Find out more about Pennicott Wilderness Journeys.