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A Bold Approach: Sustainable Tourism Strategies in New Zealand


Whaia te iti kahurangi. Ki te tuoho koe, me he maunga teitei. (Seek the treasure you value most dearly. Should you stumble, let it be to a lofty mountain.)
- Kiwi Notebook



New Zealand - The New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2015 was launched by Prime Minister Helen Clark in 2007. The Strategy is underpinned by two key values, kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and manaakitanga (hospitality). According to the NZ Tourism Strategy website: "These values provide the foundation for a sustainable approach to the development of our tourism industry. If we embrace these values, we will achieve our vision for 2015."


According to New Zealand Tourism Forecasts 2007-2013, international visitor arrivals are forecast to grow at an average of 4.0 per cent per annum to reach 3.2 million visitors, or 750,000 additional visitors per year in 2013.

Expenditure is expected to grow at a faster rate of 7.4 percent to reach $10.5 billion. This represents $4.1 billion in extra spending by international visitors in 2013 compared to $6.4 billion in 2007.

All regions in New Zealand are forecast to increase their tourism receipts between 22 -57%. Regions with higher exposure to international markets such as Queenstown, Auckland, Rotorua, Fiordland, Canterbury are generally expected to perform above the national average.

A draft of the New Zealand Tourism Strategy was released for public comment in May 2007 and the final New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2015 will be released in November. Said Tourism Minister Damien O'Connor (source):

"When the draft Strategy was released, I issued a challenge to the tourism sector. I said we needed to be bold and daring in our approach to the development of tourism into the future. I sensed a strong desire throughout the sector for leadership and direction to create a tourism industry that is a global leader in sustainability. That is, sustainability in all its forms.

There was overwhelming support for a bold approach, with aspirational targets. The comments received from over 100 individuals and groups on the draft strategy showed that you are willing, and eager, to take up that challenge.

There was also overwhelming agreement that 100% Pure New Zealand is a highly successful national tourism brand, and that we must take the necessary steps to ensure its ongoing credibility.

The draft Strategy makes sustainable business practices central to the future vision for our industry. Its actions and recommendations seek to ensure that, through to 2015 and beyond, New Zealand's tourism sector delivers a world-class visitor experience. The strategy will provide direction to boost prosperity and attract ongoing investment, while taking a leading role in protecting and enhancing the environment.

As the Prime Minister has said, operating sustainably makes good financial sense. Research undertaken in January found that 27% of New Zealanders said that they have purposely avoided buying from companies because of their impact on society or the environment. The survey also indicates that up to 1.4 million New Zealanders say they will pay a premium for products and services, which have a positive social or environmental benefit.

What these results highlight is an increasing expectation by New Zealanders that businesses will act responsibly to address issues of sustainability -- environmental or social."


The Sustainable Tourism Charter Project is a joint initiative between the Ministries of Tourism and the Environment. Funding for the project came from the New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2010 Implementation Fund. Regional Tourism Organizations (RTOs) were invited to participate in the Charter project in January 2005 and six were selected:

Enterprise Northland
Destination Rotorua Tourism Marketing
Lake Wanaka Tourism
Latitude Nelson
Tourism Bay of Plenty
Venture Southland/Destination Fiordland

Recognizing that the tourism industry is largely comprised of small to medium-sized businesses, the charter project has been designed to provide sufficient flexibility to participating regions and businesses to allow them to identify and concentrate on their specific issues.

This bottom-up approach is intended to facilitate the creation of regional clusters of businesses that are adopting sustainable business practices. Businesses are required to monitor their progress on areas such as waste management and minimization practices, workplace practices that encourage sustainability, community involvement, supply chain management, and sustainable design.


Comments from Environment New Zealand 2007 Draft Conclusion:

However, it is the very aspects of New Zealand's environment that underpin our economic wealth through tourism and primary production – our iconic flora and fauna, our stunning wilderness areas and our rural landscapes– which are particularly vulnerable to increasing pressures. This is perhaps the critical area where New Zealand differs from other developed countries: other countries do not rely so heavily on the preservation of their natural environment for their economic wellbeing.

Tourism can sometimes act as a brake on the trend towards more intensive land use. Our single largest foreign exchange earner, tourism contributes significantly to the New Zealand economy, particularly in areas outside of the main centres. In some high-value tourist areas it competes with or replaces primary production as the largest employer.

As tourism relies on our '100 percent pure' image to promote New Zealand overseas and attract overseas visitors to our unique natural landscapes and outdoor activities, it is in the industry's interest to protect the environment and ensure its viability into the future. Reflecting this, a number of participants in the sector have actively pursued sustainable tourism practices, including through the Sustainable Tourism Charter.

However, while tourism generally drives conservation of the natural environment, it can also put pressure on it through increased numbers of visitors travelling to and recreating in our wilderness areas, increased use of infrastructure, increased consumption of natural resources and increased waste generation. The industry's own long term development strategy ('New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2015') aims to increase tourist numbers by four percent per annum to 3.1 million international visitor arrivals by 2012 and this has some significant implications for both fragile ecosystems, and infrastructure and services in largely rural towns and settlements.


According to a report on Beehive, $840,000 of funding is being committed to local tourism businesses to help them improve their environmental sustainability, the government has announced. Tourism Minister Damien O'Connor said the Sustainable Tourism Advisers in Regions (STAR) Project would help up to eight regions in New Zealand fund the costs of an adviser who will work with tourism operators to reduce their business' impact on the environment.

The new project is intended to be complementary to Qualmark, the independent classification and quality grading system for New Zealand hoteliers, camping grounds and backpackers. New criteria on their system required top performers to show evidence of effort to minimise their environmental impact. The funding will be alloted on a contestable basis from region to region.


b New Zealand Tourism Strategy (draft)
b New Zealand Tourism Strategy (PDF)
b Damien O'Connor RSS
b Tourism conference Speech 2007 - Damien O'Connor/Beehive
b The future is bright for the tourism industry - Damien O'Connor/Beehive
b Sustainable Tourism Charter Project


b New tourism sustainability website -
b New website set to benefit NZ ecotourism industry - Scoop
b Environment New Zealand 2007 Draft Conclusion
b Is it OK to fly to New Zealand for a holiday? - GreenTraveller

100% PURE NZ

b 100% Pure New Zealand
b 100% Pure New Zealand Layer on Google Earth
b Flipping for climate change: can we keep the brand? - Colin James
b Truth About '100% Pure NZ Advertising Campaign - Scoop
b Melting Away - New Zealand Listener


g New Zealand
b 2007 Ecotourism Conference
b International Visitor Satisfaction Survey
b Tourism Research
b Landcare Research


g New Zealand Collection
b Ecotourism Oceania


g New Zealand


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