Navigate Expeditions owner Jess Taunton says the Sapphire Coast has the potential to become a bucket list destination like the Great Barrier Reef.
Last week Ms Taunton's 12-month old tourism operation won silver at the NSW Tourism Awards in the new business category.
She said the Sapphire Coast could become a top tourism destination if more local tourism operators collaborated with each other and with organisations like Sapphire Coast Destination Marketing, Business Connect and Destination NSW.
"It isn't yet a bucket list destination but it could start to be because we have the products and services and the beautiful natural environment," Ms Taunton said.
She said increased marketing was needed to bring more visitors to the region outside of the beach season "when it is just as beautiful but less crowded".
Ms Taunton said entering the awards involved a lot of hard work but it was worthwhile.
"Particularly being a new business, it has been very hard getting my name out there so the media coverage and getting the award has been very helpful," she said.
She said Sapphire Coast Destination Marketing had a table at the awards dinner in Sydney on Thursday, December 17.
"It felt like it was a real team effort.
"I would love to see more tourism businesses enter, get the media coverage, build on the momentum and make the Sapphire Coast a destination."
She said Mudgee picked up seven or eight NSW Tourism awards this year.
"I feel they are really getting on the map because of those businesses coming together."
Navigate Expeditions was one of just five businesses in NSW and 22 in Australia with both Advanced Ecotourism certification and Climate Action Business certification from Ecotourism Australia.
Ms Taunton said eight per cent of the world's emissions were from tourism and travel so the industry must constantly find new ways of doing things better.
She expected more local tourism businesses will improve their sustainability credentials following a workshop by a director of Ecotourism Australia that is being run by Sapphire Coast Destination Marketing.
"I hope that a lot more businesses will become accredited or at least review their sustainability practices.
"If we do more of that we can all grow together so I am happy to help anyone who wants to improve their offering in that space."
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