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Plea for NZ to embrace sustainable tourism

Plea for NZ to embrace sustainable tourism

New Zealand must take stronger steps to embrace sustainable tourism next year, a leading tourist operator said today.

Mardi Neumann of the Youth Hostel Association (YHA) New Zealand will expand on her sustainability views at the first international Green Globe conference in Kaikoura on March 3-5 next year.

Ms Neumann, a YHA co-ordinator, said New Zealand relied on its 100 percent Pure New Zealand campaign to support the second largest industry in the country — tourism.

The environmental benchmarking system of Green Globe was helping tourism businesses to showcase their commitment to high environmental ethics.

``The time has come for New Zealand communities to stop ‘talking the talk’ and take a walk toward sustainability, she said.

``Through action and ideas, sustainability could in fact become a reality for New Zealand.’’ Kaikoura became the first tourist resort in New Zealand – and only the second community in the world - to earn Green Globe status last year.

Green Globe is the world’s only global tourism certification programme.

A total of 1.4 million people visited the South Island whale-watching resort of Kaikoura last year. The town has just 3483 residents and tourist numbers are rising. Sustainable tourism has been the key to their success. Bill Meade, Sir Frank Moore and Mark Solomon are three keynote speakers for the conference. Mr Solomon is kaiwhakahaere (chairman) of the Ngai Tahu runanga. He is also a director of Te Papa museum in Wellington. Mr Meade is a sustainable tourism consultant from Washington. He will be addressing the conference on sustainable tourism initiatives around the world that he has been involved in, such as the Red Sea sustainable tourism initiative.

Sir Frank has been behind many of the major developments in Australia’s tourism industry over the past 20 years. He chaired the Tourism Council of Australia from 1984-96.

Germari Pieterse, a South African tourism consultant, will deliver a paper to the conference on the benefits of ecolabelling.

``An ecolabel should make a valid contribution to promoting sustainable development. There are no established schemes currently operating in South Africa,’’ Mr Pieterse said.

His study will evaluate the potential for implementing ecolabelling at lodges in South Africa which could have onflow benefits in New Zealand.

Jeannelle Blanchard, an expert in sustainable tourism in the Caribbean, will talk about the experience of small hotels implementing environmental management systems.

She said the tourist industry had caused ``degradation’’ of the Caribbean islands’ natural assets and had diminished the quality of the product.

``To minimise negative impacts and to ensure the quality and economic development of the region, the industry has begun to focus on ensuring the long-term sustainability of the tourism product.’’

Kaikoura organisers are expecting national and international experts, lecturers and environmental specialists in sustainable tourism to attend the conference.

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