Steve Noakes is among the very few sustainable tourism professionals who have been involved internationally and across the benches long enough to have a very comprehensive understanding of the sustainable tourism field, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. For this interview we visited him in his beautiful home in Lamington National Park (Queensland, Australia) – a stone’s throw away from iconic Binna Burra eco-lodge.
- Steve’s first encounters with sustainable tourism and ecotourism, and how his views changed over the years;
- The current state of sustainable tourism development in Asia and the Pacific Islands region;
- How Ecolodges Indonesia supports the protection of biodiversity;
- His favorite sustainable tourism book;
- Steve’s advice on which sustainable tourism award to apply for.
Steve, a few words on your current work and professional responsibilities?
I work across the commercial, academic and NGOs sectors. Have been involved in tourism and travel for almost 40 years – nowadays we have business interests in ecolodges and tour operations in Indonesia, Melanesia and Australia.
My business focus is on sustainable tourism in Asia Pacific region. As an example, currently I am the Lead Trainer for the tourism sector of the Business Innovation Facility (BIF), a UK AID funded project on inclusive business in Myanmar.
I also engage in sustainable tourism research and lecturing activities with Griffith University, the University of Queensland and Bond University here in Australia, as well as with the Lapland University Consortium in Finland.
In relation to NGOs, I have a 35 year active engagement with various NGOs, including the Bangkok-based PATA and over the past decade or so, with Sustainable Travel International and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
Was sustainability a topic when you started your professional career? What got you interested?
Back in the 1970’s when I started as a tour guide, we didn’t use the word ‘sustainable tourism’, although that’s basically what we practiced at the time, given the need to conserve scarce resources in remote areas and maintain good relations with the local, particularly indigenous, people.