Central Coast celebrates second year in global Green Destinations Top 100 List

sunrise lookout over norah head
sunrise lookout over norah head
The Central Coast is again representing New South Wales on the international stage in the 2022 Green Destinations Top 100 Stories list!
As a newly certified ECO Destination, our rewarding journey joins this year’s Sustainability Stories as the only Australian destination awarded a finalist spot two years running.

The New South Wales Central Coast is officially celebrating its selection in this year’s Top 100 List, a respected annual tourism competition hosted by Green Destinations. Every year the Top 100 Destination Sustainability Stories competition collects outstanding, innovative Good Practice Stories from locations across the globe to inspire tomorrow's travellers and today's tourism professionals.

We’re extremely proud to announce the 2022 Top 100 List spotlights the Central Coast – one of two destinations representing Australia in the international competition.

The Central Coast is also the only Australian destination to achieve Finalist status in both 2021 and 2022, showcasing its commitment to sustainability.

Top 100 winning graphic for Central Coast with beach background
Winning sustainability story
People Power: Rebuilding a region with ECO at heart

The winning Sustainability Story submitted for the Central Coast focused on sharing the Central Coast’s goal to fulfil a two-year ‘ECO journey’. Top 100 judges praised our region’s winning Good Practice Story under the ‘Business & Marketing’ category, titled  ‘People Power: Rebuilding a Region with ECO at Heart’.

Top 100 evaluator's explain why the Central Coast's story stood out:

"This Good Practice Story is an excellent source of information for any destination out there considering to pursue sustainability certification. It really shows that the ECO criteria should be used as a business tool and guide to develop sustainable management of the destination, encourage and nurture collaboration between several stakeholders in the destination.

Results are shown in terms of marketing and visitors number, but the most important results are in the unity of the destination, from different council teams, to local businesses and communities and learning to work together towards the same goals, creating resilient destinations."

Our ECO journey has unearthed a wonderful range of hidden sustainability stories and green-hearted businesses across the region, including the sustainable world of oyster farming, launching recyclable cup systems across 30 cafés, installing accessible beach matting in summer, rewilding farmland for native bird species, record-breaking breeding seasons for endangered Little Terns, litter lab sessions for local nature based businesses, and reporting marine sightings during tours for The Happy Whale Project.

Our story shares with the world how it’s the small, people powered gestures that make up one big movement toward creating a more sustainable destination! Finalist status in this competition establishes the NSW Central Coast is now part of a global list of respected locations leading the way for sustainable tourism.

The Central Coast’s finalist story, and the whole 2022 Top 100 list is available on the Green Destinations website.

couple hiking on lush forest path
Brisbane Water National Park
Credit: James Vodicka
Growing recognition for our slice of paradise

Steeped in natural assets, the Central Coast continues to attract conscious travellers keen to explore its natural environment. More than half of our destination is made up of national parks, state forest, bushland, open space, nature reserves, beaches and waterways. We are home to more than 200km of safe, shared cycleways and host one of the richest repositories of Aboriginal rock carvings in the world, with thousands of registered Aboriginal cultural sites - some older than Egypt’s Pyramids or England’s Stonehenge (between 7,000-20,000 years old)!

This exciting achievement for our slice of east coast paradise adds to the Central Coast’s growing list of accolades. This includes selection in last year’s 2021 Top 100 Destination Sustainability Stories Competition, plus:

  • NSW Tourism Awards 2021 Bronze Winner - Local Government Award for Tourism
  • Finalist in NSW Top Tourism Town Awards 2021
  • Judges Choice Award for 'Most Compelling Itinerary' - NSW Top Tourism Awards 2021
  • ‘The Entrance’ Finalist in Wotif's Aussie Town of the Year Awards 2021
woman on ridgeline lookout
Mt Ettalong lookout
Credit: Teigan Nash
alpaca farm experience
Breakfast with alpacas
Iris Lodge Alpacas
Nurturing natural experiences on the Central Coast

From dramatic east Australian coastal headlands, to lush, mountainous hinterland, the Central Coast of New South Wales is a vibrant place to call home, carve a career, or explore. Yet in 2020 – something vital was missing from that list… The region needed a sustainable way to promote its natural and cultural experiences while also protecting and respecting them.

Flashback to August 2020. The Central Coast joins the ECO Destination Certification program with Ecotourism Australia thanks to funding from WWF-Australia. This publicly pledges a commitment to become a ‘leading NSW ecotourism destination’ and achieve ECO Certification by World Environment Day 2022. That‘s a rigorous 24 months to fulfil 87 criteria founded on the internationally recognised Green Destination Standard, accredited by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. That’s one big, green mountain to climb!

Never has our region looked at its sustainability standards so intensely or holistically. Approached just like a mountain hike, the Central Coast set milestones, rallied supportive spectators, and took breaks to admire the view. And after 20 months - on 2 June 2022 leading up to World Environment Day - the NSW Central Coast became an Australian ECO Destination!

This is not simply a ‘green badge‘ – it’s a destination-wide opportunity to rebuild our region with an ‘eco’ heart.

humpback whale breaching
Explore the Humpback Highway
Terrigal Ocean Tours
oyster in water experience
Immersive in-water experience
Sydney Oyster Farm Tours
Meet our Central Coast ECO champions

An incredible element of the Central Coast's ECO Destination story has been supporting more nature-based experiences to emerge and engage with their sustainable values. Inspired to pursue their own ecotourism accreditation, 15 Central Coast businesses joined our ECO journey in June 2021.

This includes unique natural and cultural experiences such as breakfast with alpacas in the Central Coast hinterland, immersive marine education tours, climbing high in eucalyptus canopies, and taking a moment to rest in luxury bush retreats.

To make your Central Coast adventure a conscious one, explore each sustainably-minded business:

couple stand up paddle boarding
Ettalong Bombora SUP
Credit: James Vodicka
couple kayaking river
Kayak Popran Creek with Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures
Credit: James Vodicka
5 Feel good reasons to visit our sustainable destination

1. We became Australia’s third certified ECO Destination for World Environment Day 2022 – get a feel for the 20-month journey here

2. You can explore sustainably minded Central Coast businesses leading the way for eco-experiences

3. You can support a Central Coast Sustainability Pledge – have you checked it out?

4. You can borrow a free Destination Central Coast recyclable cup with Green Caffeen at 30+ coastal cafes to reduce single use (the Coast has already saved more than 3,700 single use cups from landfill!)

5. You can grab a copy of our new Central Coast Visitor Guide showcasing the natural beauty and stories of our NSW region – available at many local businesses and The Entrance Visitor Information Centre

tropical beach bay with reefs visible from above
Bateau Bay beach meets Wyrrabalong National Park
Credit: Chris Flaxman
What’s the Green Destinations Top 100 List?

The opportunity to enter the Top 100 was made possible through a partnership between Destination Central Coast and Ecotourism Australia, as part of the ECO Destination Certification program, fully funded by WWF-Australia.

Now in its 8th year, the Green Destinations Top 100 Stories is an annual list of innovative and effective Good Practice Stories selected from 100 international destinations inspiring responsible tourism leadership, while also creating more attractive experiences for their community and travellers. Each destination has proactively submitted a unique Good Practice Story that details a sustainability project the destination is executing.

All destinations vying for a spot in the annual Top 100 are required to also meet a minimum level of compliance with certain core ECO criteria of the Green Destinations Standard, which the Central Coast recently achieved with ECO Destination Certification awarded by Ecotourism Australia in June 2022. The Top 100 Committee emphasises selection to the Top 100 list does not mean the destination is holistically sustainable, but pre-selected based on meeting that minimum level of compliance and the merit of their Good Practice Story - both of which the Central Coast successfully achieved.

The international competition is held under the auspices of the Top 100 Partnership, with special contributions by Green Destinations, QualityCoast, Travelife, ITB Berlin, Asian Ecotourism Network, Ecotourism Australia, Global Ecotourism Network, Sustainable First and GLP Films.

Be part of the story

If you have a 'Sustainability Story' linked to your experience or business on the Central Coast we'd love to hear it – simply get in touch here with a few lines. 


When exploring our award-winning Top 100 destination we’d love to see your story! Share your best photos and videos by tagging #LoveCentralCoast on Instagram and Facebook to be featured.


About our ECO Destination

Explore eco-experiences on the Central Coast at our dedicated Ecotourism hub.


Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have more questions about what it means to be a certified Australian ECO Destination? There's a chance we've answered it for you on our dedicated ECO Destination FAQ page.