G20 ecotourism forum to draw big crowds

NEW Zealand tourists, Chinese visitors, and an abundance of locals are drawn to Byron Bay Eco Cruises and Kayaks to learn more about the environment.

So it comes as no surprise to the business's co-owner, Lorraine Freeden, that an ecotourism forum to be held today has drawn the attention of tourism operators from across the world.

The G20 Sustainable Leaders Forum is expected to draw hundreds of people involved in the industry.

Ms Freeden said the forum was important for the tourism sector.

"Let's face it, people come to see the outback and the reef," she said.

While not all operators are based around ecotourism, Ms Freeden said she hoped they were all environmentally-friendly.

Along with their tours along the Brunswick River, Ms Freeden and her husband Simon, who has a background in environmental science, also participate in bird monitoring and share the history of the beautiful river and surrounding environment with tourists.

The pair turned their "interest in the bush" into a business venture three years ago. It is now an eco-certified advanced ecotourism operation.

While it was slow going at first, Ms Freeden said they had now hosted many New Zealanders, a handful of Chinese and increasing numbers of locals.

She said more and more people were beginning to realise the beauty in their own backyard.

The Freedens also teach school groups who join them for tours about the area.

She said she and her husband might be on the same boat each day, but the river changed on every journey.

They have recently been seeing a koala along with the regular stingray, fish and turtle sightings. 

- APN NEWSDESK



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