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Whole industry needs to take sustainable tourism journey – TIA

9 Oct 2020  By Shannon Williams | | @tourismticker

If New Zealand wants to be leading the world in sustainable tourism, the whole industry needs to come along on the journey, says Tourism Industry Aotearoa industry strategy manager Bruce Bassett.

Speaking on the TIA Discussing Tourism –Tackling tourism’s carbon challenge webinar, Bassett said every single tourism business in the country had to start its journey to reduce carbon emissions.

“For the tourism industry to become sustainable, all operators in the industry have to be themselves sustainable. We all have a role to play,” he said.

Bruce Bassett

“We need to be taking the whole industry along. Not just the leaders, but every single tourism business.”

A Statistics NZ measure of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions showed while New Zealand’s overall greenhouse gas emissions fell by 1.1% between 2007 and 2018, tourism emissions increased by 16.3%.

Of total tourism emissions in 2018, 65% were in the airport transport category. Overall, tourism made up 7.4% of New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

“This highlights the challenge ahead of us,” Bassett said.

“We are at the beginning of the journey. We’re just getting started, and we are continually putting in place the tools, knowledge and policies available to assist us to tackle this challenge.

“We have to act hard and fast to avert the worst of climate change. It’s quite a call to action.”

Bassett said that were many tourism businesses looking at how they could measure and reduce their carbon footprints.

TIA developed the New Zealand Tourism Sustainability Commitment, which was made up of 12 actions to help tourism businesses make their sustainability journey.

Gisela Purcell, visitor destination manager, Nelson Tasman, said being sustainable was not enough.

Gisela Purcell

“We don’t really like the word ‘sustainable’,” she said.

“Sustain means to keep things as they are and I would take that as the absolute bare minimum, there’s nothing aspirational within that.

“We would much prefer to be talking about a regenerative visitor sector; a sector that enhances our communities and our environment and our economy.

“A sustainable sector is the bare minimum, it just means it’s not making things worse. But that’s not what we are really aspiring to do, we want to do better than that.”

Purcell said a recent survey of local tourism operators showed there was a passion for the environment and work was being done towards reducing their carbon footprint.

“Lots of our local tourism operators are doing some good work individually, and as the RTO we’re just playing catch up with some our operators.

“We are working on our destination management plan for the visitor sector and our vision for that is that our visitors come here to the region and leave it better than they found it.”

Purcell said many operators used the downtime during lockdown to get carbon zero certified.

“Some even got carbon zero positive certified, which was really encouraging to see, it was a vote of confidence in the future of the industry,” she said.

“So we encouraged as many local operators as possible to get themselves zero carbon certified, even if they were already doing really good stuff, this message is a big important part of our whole communication.”


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