Sustainable Tourism

VISION – Tourism leading the way in restoring communities and nature.


The challenge

Tourism is a major part of the New Zealand economy. It is largely based on a global brand integral to our aspirations of being a clean green ‘100% Pure’ nation.

In 2016 domestic travellers within New Zealand contributed $20.2 billion to the New Zealand economy. International travellers contributed a further $11.8 billion, 17.4% of New Zealand’s exports.

Both numbers of tourists and the value of their travel are increasing. Government studies forecast the number of foreign tourists visiting the country each year will rise by 1.4 million to reach 4.5 million by 2022. This would match the country’s current permanent population.

There are obvious and increasing tensions between such rapid growth and sustainable tourism.

Unfortunately, current industry accreditations and certifications for sustainability lack user-friendly customer-facing elements. This means there is no good system for easily connecting growing demand for sustainability to our sustainability-minded operators. And there is no comprehensive ‘one stop shop’ for sustainable travel in New Zealand.

New Zealand is not reaching its potential for attracting sustainability-conscious travellers, a key and growing market. Travellers who want to select New Zealand destinations for their sustainability credentials find it hard to find them. Furthermore, our tourists need guidance on the kinds of behaviours they should be adopting while visiting here. New Zealand’s priceless natural beauty advantage is under threat.

So how can we maintain and enhance tourism’s contribution to a sustainable New Zealand?

The idea

This project targets two key and interwoven factors in the future of tourism in New Zealand. New Zealand must continue to be viewed as a place of outstanding natural beauty. Tourism must maintain its social license to operate and flourish.

Our mission: New Zealand is recognised globally as a model sustainable tourism destination.


  1. Better behaviours from tourists (local and international) by engaging in a fun and informative Kiwi Pledge.
  2. Increased demand for sustainable operators, initially by lifting their profile
  3. Increased protection and restoration of our beautiful places

SBN is proposing a package of measures. It will assist the enhancement and promotion of sustainable tourism in New Zealand in collaboration with industry players and sustainability-minded tourist operators.

It will support a collaborative cross sector partnership to create a new online and offline presence for sustainable tourism in New Zealand. This will be done under the banner of a consumer/ tourism facing initiative called The Kiwi Pledge. This is modelled on a similar pledge in Iceland, which contains commitments for travellers and travel businesses. But our approach takes the idea further, embedding it into tourism practice across the country and our global brand.

Travellers will be encouraged to sign up to the Kiwi Pledge and businesses will be encouraged to support it by their own sustainable practices They will then be connected via an online directory website and also by via promotional marketing on popular existing travel and accommodation sites.

Locations taking the Pledge will be supported to offer special promotions to Pledge travellers.

Once established, the Pledge and its accompanying resources will be used for a variety of marketing and promotional purposes. It will become self-funding within five years as it will be embedded into the existing tourism industry system.

Who’s involved?

SBN has been working closely with GOOD Travel, Tourism Industry Association, Tourism Holdings Ltd (THL) and Air New Zealand to develop this initiative. We have tested it with NZ Holiday Parks, KiwiRail,  Adventure Capital, Rotorua Tourism Charter and Otago Sustainable Business Connector.

Tourism NZ is now progressing work focusing on inbound tourism and SBN will continue to drive the delivery and adoption for domestic travellers.

We are now looking for project partners to take this work forward.

If you would like to find out more, contact

Brought together by:

Rachel Brown
Rachel Brown