Environment Waikato has granted $3500 to the Hamilton Environment Centre to set up a booking service for eco-tourism operators in the Waikato Region.
The Centre is funded mostly by grants from the Ministry for the Environment and Hamilton City Council with education grants from Environment Waikato and the WEL Energy Trust. The Centre serves as a community clearinghouse for environmental information, receiving about 20 enquiries a week.
To achieve long-term viability, the Centre wants to offer a central co-ordinating and booking facility for ecological experiences not offered by existing providers. It believes it could offer specialist guides to places not normally easily accessible to the public – planting projects, ecological buildings, productive gardens, river trips, waste exchange, sustainable farm management and EnviroSchools projects.
It plans several trial local trips with small groups late in summer using a local tour company and to launch its business during the Festival of the Environment in the autumn.
The Council heard that the eco-tourism broking venture could be an innovative business opportunity that may assist the Centre to achieve a sustainable funding stream. The initiative could be a catalyst toward the development of eco-tourism as a sustainable industry in the Region.