Whitsunday Crocodile Safari is a family owned, professionally operated, fully-guided and safe day-trip. Steve and Jacqui Watson both work full time in hands-on roles in the business, to ensure guests enjoy excellent customer service and a memorable nature experience.
Proserpine River Eco Tours was originally conceived in 1999.
It took more than two years to gain the necessary approvals and permits to commence the tour. Operating equipment was sourced, constructed and renovated, and the first tour was conducted on 9 December 2000.
Whitsunday Crocodile Safari has now created an opportunity to present Queensland’s natural environment to Australia and the world and we promote an identity that is uniquely Australian and quintessentially Queensland.
We are strong believers in providing a high quality product, and also in the future of the Whitsundays as one of the world’s premier tourist destinations.
We have continually developed and improved the tour over time, and this has been successfully achieved through our experiences, combined with the all important feedback from our guests.
This in turn led to the establishment of the Whitsunday Crocodile Safari, now a full day excursion, which started on 1 April 2003. Customer response to this format has been overwhelming and we continue, as always, to fine-tune and enhance our product.
As a small business, Whitsunday Crocodile Safari has a small but enthusiastic team of staff who are committed to providing their guests with quality service, and imparting the ideals of Eco Tourism.
As Tour Owner & Manager, Steve Watson has a hands-on role to ensure his guests go home with some wonderful nature experiences and a feeling that they have received value for money.
Steve says: “We care about people and the experiences that they seek out in Australia. Most of our guests are a long way from home and for our international visitors, maybe it is the only time they will visit Australia. So we go to great lengths to make sure that our tour exceeds everyone’s expectations, ensuring that they go home with a feeling of satisfaction. We also believe that the quality of our tour will encourage our guests to recommend us to friends and others who intend to visit the Whitsunday Coast”.
The tourism industry, in general relies on reputation. It is well known that if we provide value for money, excellent customer service and quality product, while achieving or exceeding our clients’ expectations, then we have the basis for a strong industry. However, for many years, the importance of preserving the natural attractions that are Australia’s real draw cards for visitors, has been overlooked or just taken for granted.
With more and more entrants into the tourism industry, we need to ensure that not only are we taking steps to preserve our natural heritage, but we are seen to be doing so. Tourists are very astute consumers, and while they want to come and see our beautiful country, (and we want to show it to them) they also want to know that it is not being used and abused.
This is where the importance of accreditation programs such as Ecotourism Australia’s Eco Certification program is essential for the future of our tourism industry. Eco Certification was a natural progression for our business, which was being established right from the start on the principles of ecotourism. We strongly believe in showcasing our natural attractions with minimal disturbance, while providing detailed and accurate interpretation. We also wanted to demonstrate our support for Ecotourism Australia and its certification program.
Our tour, originally known as Proserpine River Eco Tours, commenced operations in 2000. Now known as Whitsunday Crocodile Safari, the tour includes crocodile spotting on Proserpine River and travelling through the nationally listed Goorganga Plains wetlands and adjacent melaleuca forest and mangrove salt pans.
We joined Ecotourism Australia in 2002, achieved Advanced Eco Certification and we promote this on our website and brochure. While daunted at first by the accreditation program application document, once we started working through it, we found that we easily fulfilled around 90% of the requirements. The outstanding items were in the administrative and documentation areas and after a couple of week’s work, followed by meetings with our guides (including some intensive training sessions), we had achieved accreditation status.
As part of our quality control process, we regularly circulate questionnaires to our guests. One of the questions we ask is if our “eco accreditation” influenced their decision to book our tour. It is amazing the number of people who tick this box.
There is significant room for improvement to increase awareness of the eco certification program amongst visitors. One simple way to achieve this is with more operators taking the time and making the effort to get accredited. In some cases, it may mean making some changes, but if it improves visitor’s confidence, increases revenue, and, most importantly, ensures the continuation of ecologically sustainable tourism in the future, then it definitely has to be worth it.