There are a range of sustainability ‘certifications and commitments’ to look out for as tourists travelling in New Zealand. They will help you get the experience you want, while also working more in harmony with nature and local people.
But no matter what certifications and accreditations a tourism operator has, it’s most important to ask lots of questions and give back where you can. This helps ensure their operations align with your values, It sends a strong signal of support back into the tourism sector. It helps to keep them honouring the commitments they have signed up to. It lets them know the value of this work, and that people care enough to talk about it.
Look out for:
Qualmark is owned by Tourism New Zealand and is New Zealand’s official quality accreditation programme for tourism businesses. It is based on assessing businesses in four key criteria: health and safety, environment, social/people and economic.
Committed to Sustainable Tourism
Led by Tourism Industry Aotearoa, the New Zealand Tourism Sustainability Commitment is a voluntary self-reporting set of 14 sustainability commitments.
The Sustainable Business Network Directory
Formed in 2002, SBN has more than 500 member organisations committed to progress in sustainable business. Its Directory includes hotels, campervan operators, nationwide attractions, cafes, restaurants and more.
The Conscious Consumers App helps travellers identify cafes and restaurants that align with their values. It also offers great deals and enables you to track how much you’ve spent at accredited businesses.
Enviro-Mark, carboNZero and CEMARS
These are New Zealand’s world class programmes for efficient, credible carbon footprint calculation, reporting and reduction. Look out for these accreditations, and find out more about what the holders are doing to help tackle climate change.
What else you can do to make your trip more sustainable and enriching for everyone involved:
1. Give feedback
Many of us don’t like to ‘make a fuss’ when we are on holiday. We let a lot of things slide. However, polite feedback is really useful in generating a better experience for everybody. In a recent study released by Green Lodgings 44 percent of surveyed hotels said guest comments had triggered changes towards sustainability.
2. Learn about New Zealand culture
A little time learning about New Zealand’s history and culture will pay back many times over when travelling around.
3. Minimise waste
It’s easy to let good habits slip while you are on holiday, even if they are well established in your home routines. But plan ahead. Bring a reusable water bottle with you and fill up as you go. Carry some extra bags for shopping so you can so no to the plastic ones while shopping. Choose local food options where you can and Fair Trade where you can’t.
4. Cut the carbon
If you come from overseas you’ll have generated a pretty hefty carbon footprint getting here. So it’s good to look out for options like Ekos to offset your flight.
The more environmentally friendly ways to get around tend to be slower. Consider walking, cycling, going by bus or train and kayaking. Avoid driving, motorbikes and motorboats where possible. Travelling slower means you can get to know places and people better too.
If you do need a vehicle, check out the electric vehicle options. They include everything from electric bicycles to camper vans, and about 75% of New Zealand’s electricity comes from renewable sources. Major cities like Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington now have electric car share or bike rental options. These include Mevo in Wellington and CityHop in Auckland.
SBN is currently working with GOOD Travel and TIA to develop a more comprehensive sustainable tourism offering for New Zealand with a range of proposals being worked on now. We are establishing a regional pilot projects, with Queenstown Lakes District Council being our first region to support operators and tourists in this global tourism hotspot. SBN Member THL also recently put forward its own Kiwi version of Iceland’s responsible tourism pledge.
SBN CEO Rachel Brown says: “Tourism is New Zealand’s second most valuable export. It relies almost entirely on protecting the natural beauty of this country. That puts tourism businesses front of the line in developing and promoting sustainable business models for this country.
“Because this is increasingly important to the modern traveller, this will also help ensure New Zealand’s continued success as a world class destination.”
If you would like to know more about SBN’s tourism work, contact email@example.com