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NZ long way to go to ensure sustainable tourism

NZ long way to go to ensure sustainability in tourism

New Zealand has a long way to go to ensure tourist businesses and destinations are truly sustainable, a leading academic tourist expert said today.

New Zealanders needed to be careful they did not develop a pious or arrogant stand when it came to sustainable tourism, Lincoln University professor of tourism David Simmons said today.

Mr Simmons made the comments at the opening of the first international Green Globe conference which began in Kaikoura today.

More than 130 local government officials, community representatives, tourism and sustainable operators, researchers and business people are attending the inaugural three-day conference. Delegates from England, Iceland, South Africa, Fiji, USA, Jamaica, Barbados, Peru, New Zealand, India, Hong Kong and Australia are taking part.

Professor Simmons is the conference convenor and a leading academic commentator on tourism in New Zealand.

``While sustainability is a cornerstone of our NZ Tourism strategy, To date we are struggling to develop and maintain our planning systems and infrastructure for tourism,’’ he told delegates.

``We may have been saved from the ravages of mass tourism primarily by the distance from our markets.’’

Prof Simmons said he was delighted the first Green Globe conference was being held in New Zealand and Kaikoura, which earned Green Globe status.

In welcoming delegates from around the world, Prof Simmons said New Zealanders had much to learn and some important things to share with other destinations around the world.

``We have gained some early advantage from the Green Globe system, but we have a long way to go in ensuring our tourism businesses and destinations are truly sustainable.’’

``With our strong environmental ethic in New Zealand we should be in a position to lead the world in sustainable tourism, but that is an enormous challenge given the ongoing growth of the sector, and its diffuse nature.’’

Since he began teaching tourism at Lincoln University in 1983 there has been a five-fold increase in international tourist arrivals into New Zealand from 400,000 to a record 2.1 million last year. Kaikoura became the first tourist resort in New Zealand – and only the second community in the world - to earn Green Globe status in 2002. Green Globe is the world’s only global tourism certification programme.

Copyright 2004 Word of Mouth Media NZ

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