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Eco-tourism / Climate Action & Minimal Impact Company Overview

Eco-Certified - In 2006 both Southern Cross Sailing Adventures & Australian Tall Ship Cruises Whitsundays became Eco-Accredited, Eco-tourism had become an important part of being able to assess and monitor our impact on the environment but also to grow our business. This accreditation saw us foster a change in our attitudes, how we go about our business re-enforcing the importance of training and awareness of staff as they are an integral part of our success in the education and preservation of our way of life and educating travellers on the importance of offsetting there footprint.  In June 2016, we were recognised with the Green Travel Certificate from ECO Tourism Australia for 10 years of continued ECO service. We partner in the protection and management of the Great Barrier Reef working with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA). Tourism helps to enhance visitor experiences of the Reef and play an important role in protecting the marine park both below the water and above on the islands. Southern Cross Sailing Adventures and Australian Tall Ship Cruises activities are best practice by following the Responsible Reef Practices for tourism operators.

High Standard Tourism Operators volunteer to operate at a higher standard than required by legislation as part of their commitment to ecologically sustainable use. 

Compliance - with legislative regulations, associated acts including those enforced by Maritime Safety Queensland, OH&S obligations the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Is first and foremost in the operations of our business. Staff are trained both internally and externally to ensure implementation and amendments to acts and constant monitoring of our all aspects of the business in the Whitsundays. Climate Action Business -  In 2008 we were part of the Climate Change pilot program, and are still currently a Climate action business. Being a climate action business enabled us to understand climate change concepts, giving clear and practical ways of reducing our carbon footprint/emissions, through design, equipment purchases and changes in operational procedures.

Whitsundays Charter Boat Industry Association Certified Member – All members are committed to best practice standards and protection of the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. To safeguard the industry’s competitiveness within the world tourism market by protecting its natural resource base. Members endeavour to act ethically to maintain the highest level of safety and maritime practice, act fairly and honestly, strive for excellence in quality of service to customers, operate in a manner that is enhances and preserves the natural, social, cultural and economic values and foster an environmental ethic amongst all involved marine tourism of the Great Barrier Reef. The WCBIA has a variety of committees and working groups in which Southern Cross Sailing Adventures has always had strong  representation; Helen Sheehy who is a long term employee is also part of the WCBIA and performs secretariat for the association.

Continuously Improve - in all aspects of the business. By doing this we will ensure that we stay ahead of our competitors. We have always been regarded as industry leaders as our sailing yachts are of the highest pedigree, had strong reliable marketing, sales and supplier relationships, experienced qualified crew and enthusiastic staff, who love what they do, management focused on ensuring an efficient, profitable business and Owners who are not only hands on but who understand the need to invest in effective on-going maintenance ensuring the vessels are maintained to an exacting standard.

Policies and Procedures -As part of our ongoing commitment to reducing our carbon footprint we have reviewed, and re/written many company policies and procedures with an Eco –Friendly focus, and aim to reduce our overall annual carbon emissions. 


  • Office Recycling – We have designated recycling points throughout the office, and rubbish is then taken to our local recycling depot.
  •  Vessel Recycling – Recycling bins provided at Abel Point Marina, education and monitoring will ultimately lead to the success of this facility.  Limited storage onboard the vessel does make sorting difficult and with education of guests, cardboard and cans are crushed to limit space and we return the sorted materials for recycling. 
  • Minimising Paper Use – we have one printer that is designated to use only scrap paper and the printing of large documents is done double-sided ensuring that as much as possible paper is used both sides. Office notepads are also made out of left over scrap paper.  


  • Energy Use – Purchasing Green Electricity through our Electricity Provider and reducing the amount of power used by ensuring that computers are powered down and all lights are switched off on leaving for the day. Air-conditioners are run at 25 degrees when required; we also promote the use of natural light and fresh air.  
  • Recycled Products – Preference is made to products including printing paper, toilet paper and other consumables to products that have been recycled.  We also purchase in bulk and re-use storage containers.
  • Local Suppliers & Produce - Where possible source parts & supplies locally, we also have preferred suppliers who have good environmentally friendly policy i.e. Whitsunday Provisioning and Airlie Beach Hotel.
  • Eco-Friendly Products – Sourcing and purchasing environmentally friendly cleaning and pest management products.  These products have proved to be just as efficient and effective as the chemical based harmful products
  • Repairs & Maintenance - When repairing old engines and outboards purchasing new equipment/ engines are considered the better option as newer models are more fuel efficient reducing carbon emissions and saving money long term.

Vessel Specific

  • Minimal Impact Briefs – Incorporating minimal impact guidelines in Snorkel and Bushwalking Briefings for guests
  • Fuel Efficiency – Promote sailing as it reduces fuel consumption
  • Eco-Training and Interpretation Plan – Education of crew is crucial as they play a key role in the way the passengers and themselves alike perceive both the natural and cultural aspects of the area. The company has developed a number of methods used for training staff.
  • Educating Guests – Crew are encouraged to discuss climate change and offsetting their own carbon footprint. This assists in increasing the awareness to travellers in an ongoing effort to encourage everyone to be more environmentally aware.  
  • Water Conservation - Conservation of water onboard the vessels is enforced as tanks are only able to hold x amount of water per person per trip.  Passengers are restricted to 2 minute showers and toilets are set to flush at a low rate.
  • Sewage Management Plan – As per current regulations sewage and effluent is held onboard in purpose built holding tanks. Vessels maintain an onboard sewerage management plan.
  • Noise management - Music played onboard the vessels is restricted to reasonable levels and monitored.  Crew are encouraged to spend more time under sail is encouraged which also is energy efficient and a much more pleasant way to travel then the sound of a noisy engine.

Monitoring Success - In order to effectively manage and minimise our impact on climate change firstly we needed to identify what our annual carbon emissions were , to do this we collated information required and utilised the online GBRPMA emissions calculator to calculate annual emissions. The total emissions calculated for the year ended 2007-2008 was 422 tonne, this calculated out to be 25.3kg of carbon emissions per guest. Although we did not set targets as we had no historical data to set projections and lacked resources to put realistic targets in place. Using these measures we have recently calculated the annual emissions for the year ended 2008-2009, and we were pleased and inspired to see that we had made good progress by reducing our total annual emissions to 401 tonne, down to 23kg per guest travelled.   An increase in guests travelled and an overall carbon emission reduction of 5% from the 2007-2008 to the 2009-2010 financial year lead to a 10% drop of carbon emissions per guest travelled.

Carbon Offset - As a nil carbon emission business is not possible for us at this time we began looking at ways in which we can offset our Carbon Footprint. Donations to organisations that directly looked into a donation of funds to an organisation committed to the planting of native trees to offset carbon emissions. Based on 422 tonnes of carbon emissions to offset approx 18% of our emissions we purchased the equivalent of 276 trees. Future plans are to offset this even further and are currently discussing more ways in which we can encourage our guests to offset their trip to the Whitsundays