Janine Duffy, co-founder and marketing director of Echidna Walkabout Wildlife Tours in Australia, in this interview tells us how the Melbourne-based company’s recent responsible tourism award has changed her life and business, lessons she has learned, and why social businesses are the future.
- How winning Gold at the World Responsible Travel Awards for Best of Wildlife Conservation has influenced and benefited Echidna Walkabout Wildlife Tours;
- How Janine’s personal life and the company have changed since winning the award;
- How her view on tourism sustainability has changed over the years;
- The main challenges for small tour operators like Echidna Walkabout;
- How she measures sustainability performance.
- Advice to newcomers to ecotourism.
Janine, last November Echidna Walkabout won the World Responsible Travel Award for Best of Wildlife Conservation. How did it feel to receive such high recognition from the professional community?
Amazing. Incredible. Dream come true. Being at WTM and the Awards, hearing the views and ideas of operators and academics from across the globe gave me a feeling of camaraderie that I’ve never felt before.
There are people talking about the future in a way that excites me! Some topics and ideas were totally new to me, and thought-provoking. I had always felt alone in my views of how tourism can help wildlife. Now I know that’s not true. I feel that nothing can stop us now.
(How) has your life and business changed since?
We feel like an overnight success! EVERYTHING has changed. It took 23 years, but it’s worth the wait to have this level of recognition internationally.