A new tourism operation in Tathra is a finalist in the 2022 NSW Tourism Awards.
Published author Jess Taunton spent 15 years travelling the world taking photographs of nature before settling in the Far South Coast to establish an eco-tourism business, Navigate Expeditions.
"I came to this area during COVID and fell in love and wanted to set up a nature-based experience business with a positive impact on the community, environment and culture," Ms Taunton said.
She has recruited "four awesome" guides, invested in high-quality kayaking equipment and implemented sustainability initiatives.
"We are doing well and getting our name out there," Ms Taunton said.
For this, Navigate Expeditions is into the finals of the NSW Tourism Awards in the new tourism business category.
The Navigate Expeditions team subliminally models environmentally-sensitive practices through rejecting single-use plastics and sourcing goods and services from like-minded businesses while pointing out the impact of climate change on the region.
With the help of the environmentally-conscious people who go on their guided tours, Ms Taunton and her team have also already planted more than 600 trees on land dedicated for conversation.
Like several other local tourism operators she intends to attract more visitors during the shoulder season with multi-day tours and reserving day tours to the peak season.
"I love the shoulder season. You almost have the place to yourself," she said.
She also has her eye on international tourism.
"We did a familiarisation tour with nine international travel agents and they are very excited about bringing guests to the region," Ms Taunton said.
Ms Taunton grew up on the Central Coast, north of Sydney, and studied anthropology at university "but most of my working life has been in photography".
That came about because she fell in love with a photographer.
"We did some amazing adventures and sold the photos to magazines and became published authors.
"From there we went on to teach photography and then photography tours all around the world," Ms Taunton said.
This took her to places including Antarctica, Greenland, Iceland, Patagonia, Alaska, Galapagos, Kenya and many Australian destinations
She also owned and ran a luxury eco-lodge on Christmas Island.
Ms Taunton sold her shares in both businesses to establish Navigate Expeditions.
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