NSW Central Coast goes global as only Australian region in Green Destinations Top 100 List

tourism industry and alpacas being fed in a quaint green field
tourism industry and alpacas being fed in a quaint green field
Outstanding in the field of ecotourism: For a third year running, the Central Coast is celebrated on the global stage in the Green Destinations Top 100 List!
Also for 2023, the Central Coast is the only Australian destination in the Top 100 List with its unique sustainability story, starring ‘ECO Advocates’…

The New South Wales Central Coast is celebrating its official 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 our diverse earth to inspire tomorrow's travellers and today's tourism professionals. 

We’re extremely proud to announce the 2023 Top 100 List spotlights the Central Coast – the only Australian destination selected in this international competition! 

The Central Coast is also the only Australian destination to achieve hat trick Finalist status in 2021, 2022, and now 2023, showcasing its commitment to sustainability and continuing to take steps to build a responsible tourism industry.

This win shows there is just so much natural beauty to unearth on the Central Coast... Steeped in natural assets, the Coast continues to attract conscious travellers keen to explore its diverse landscape. More than half of our destination is made up of national parks, state forest, bushland, open space, nature reserves, beaches and waterways. We're 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 adds to the Central Coast’s growing list of accolades in the area of sustainable tourism, driven by a passionate team of destination managers and marketers within local government, who are carving the path ahead of the curve. With the tourism sector facing very challenging times in the past few years, the resiliency and hard work of all destinations in the Top 100 List to become more responsible is worth celebrating!

woman hiking through forest with shady canopy
Strickland State Forest
Image: Isaac Tseng
The Central Coast's Top 100 sustainability story
"A Destination of Eco Advocates with Whales, Alpacas and Wheels"

The 2023 Sustainability Story selected for the Central Coast focused on the region's commitment to building an ecotourism community, also known as its 'Eco Advocates'.

Top 100 judges praised our region’s winning Good Practice Story under the ‘Destination Management’ category, titled ‘A Destination of Eco Advocates with Whales, Alpacas and Wheels’.

In just three years, the Central Coast of New South Wales has experienced a strategic shift in the way it presents tourism products to locals and guests. Rollover sanitised coastal hollow holidays, and rollout a refreshing new era of eco-conscious experiences respecting nature, culture, place and people, to naturally make you feel whole again. This positive change at a destination management and marketing level is led by a small tourism team, Destination Central Coast, within the region’s local government organisation, Central Coast Council. But the real heroes in this landscape are a cohort of “ECO Advocates” growing since 2020. These local tourism businesses joining the wider ECO Destination journey are championing sustainable tourism practices on their home turf and now, in 2023, the Coast’s ecotourism portfolio has never been stronger, more diverse, or better placed to showcase the unfurling value in promoting sustainable tourism best practice. These are the dedicated entrepreneurs walking the talk every day, for a living.

The Central Coast's 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 three years running confirms 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 global 2023 Top 100 List is now available on the Green Destinations website.

tourism industry people interact with friendly alpacas
Tourism Industry ECO Networking at Iris Lodge Alpacas, Jilliby
Image: Isaac Tseng
Elissa Keenan, Chief Executive of Ecotourism Australia, addressing Central Coast tourism industry
Elissa Keenan, Chief Executive of Ecotourism Australia, addressing Central Coast tourism industry, April 2023; Image: Isaac Tseng
alpaca tour with the tourism industry on a central coast farm
Tour at one of 8x ECO Certified businesses on the Central Coast. Image: Isaac Tseng
alpaca farmer talks with the tourism industry on a central coast farm
Sean Hooper, Iris Lodge Alpacas co-owner, speaks to tourism industry on their ECO Certification journey. Image: Isaac Tseng
text list of all top 100 finalist destinations
Image: Green Destinations
What’s the Green Destinations Top 100 List?

The opportunity for the Central Coast to be part of the Top 100 was made possible through an ongoing partnership between Destination Central Coast and Ecotourism Australia, as part of the ECO Destination Certification program, supported by Central Coast Council since 2020.

Now in its 9th 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 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.

Green Destinations is a Netherlands-based organisation working on the assessment, capacity building and certification of destinations and businesses committed to sustainable tourism. The 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. This competition is also supported by the Future of Tourism Coalition.

family whale watching at Terrigal East Coast Australia
Terrigal whale watching opportunities.
Image: James Horan
Nurturing natural experiences on the Central Coast
Meet our local ECO Advocates

A vital element of the Central Coast's sustainability story is successfully supporting more and more local tourism experiences to engage with sustainability values in their daily operations. Inspired to pursue their own ecotourism or sustainability accreditation, there is now a total of 21 Central Coast businesses who have joined the region's ECO journey since 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 immersive in-water seafood dining.

Make your Central Coast adventure a conscious one - explore these local ECO Advocates:


two cyclists riding in leafy forest
Ourimbah State Forest tour with The Overlander
Image: James Vodicka
5 Feel good reasons to visit our ECO Destination

1. You'll be experiencing one of Australia’s first certified ECO Destinations – get a feel for the epic 20-month journey here

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

3. You can support our Central Coast Sustainability Pledge in partnership with Take 3 for the Sea – 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 latest edition Central Coast Visitor Guide showcasing the natural beauty and stories of our region – available at many local businesses and the Central Coast Visitor Centre at The Entrance.

Be part of the story

If you're a local business with a 'Sustainability Story' linked to your experience or offering 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 ECO Destination hub.


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 handy FAQ page.