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Green Globe Accreditation Moves Pay Dividends

News Release March 17, 2004

Green Globe Accreditation Moves Pay Dividends For Comvita Visitor Centre

A serious bid by the Comvita Visitor Centre to become one of the first New Zealand businesses to gain the sought after Green Globe 21 accreditation has already paid dividends: the high profile tourist centre, based at Comvita's headquarters at Paengaroa, this week attracted a bus-load of environmentally-conscious Japanese tourists on the strength of its commitment to Green Globe 21.

Comvita Visitor Centre manager Diane Riley believes it's a sign of things to come.

"Eco-tourism is here to stay," she enthuses, "and Comvita, with its sustainable philosophies, and New Zealand, with its natural beauty, are well placed to take advantage of this."

Diane says Comvita has made a commitment to align itself with Green Globe, an environmental benchmarking standard established 10 years ago for the travel and tourism industry worldwide.

"We are aiming to achieve Green Globe accreditation for the Visitor Centre first then Comvita itself will be next. Green Globe accreditation means a tourism business has passed a green health check."

Green Globe 21 is an international benchmarking and certification programme promoting sustainable tourism and travel for consumers. It's based on Agenda 21 and the principles for Sustainable Development endorsed at the UN's Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992. Of the 150 companies fully certified, 27 are in New Zealand.

There are three levels of participation in the initiative. These are awareness, benchmarking and certification.

The Comvita Visitor Centre is at the benchmarking stage. To assist with this is Dutch student Noortje Poot, 20, who is one of four students from Rotterdam Hogeschool currently placed with Bay of Plenty businesses to complete their Year 3 international traineeship. Noortje is also assisting with and reporting on the research and development of market communication for the Visitor Centre so that it can gain effective benefit from the Green Globe 21 brand.

Investigation into the production of waste and reduction of waste materials is also part of her brief. Her perception is that Dutch companies are well ahead of New Zealand in their management of waste.

"Waste management would appear to be an area that New Zealand could improve on," she says. "Certainly, this is going to become more important in the tourism sector where eco-minded tourists demand high standards."

Almost half way through a 10-week appointment at Comvita, Noortje's enjoying her experience so much she's seriously thinking about living in New Zealand.

"I finish my studies in Holland next year and may then go to university," Noortje says. "I greatly admire what Comvita is doing and I am having a great time in New Zealand."

Her supervisor Diane Riley says Noortje has basically taken on the role of energy manager at the Comvita Visitor Centre and has fitted in extremely well despite being 'thrown in the deep end'.

The Visitor Centre is a showcase for natural health and bee products. Open seven days a week, it features some of New Zealand's best native honeys and caters for tours twice daily.

Although one of more than 100 eco-tourism schemes worldwide, Green Globe 21 is highly respected because it is the only one that insists that accredited organisations continue to improve. If they don't, they're out.


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