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Steps towards sustainable tourism recognised

Steps towards sustainable tourism recognised

Making a commitment to sustainable tourism has seen six Northland tourism businesses receive an official pat on the back from the Ministry for the Environment.

Fullers Bay of Islands, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, Dive Tutukaka, Wairere Boulders Naturepark, Dolphin Discoveries and Matakohe Top Ten Holiday Park received a certificate of recognition today at a special event in Whangarei.

“We’re acknowledging and celebrating the commitment these businesses have made towards improving their environmental performance. They’ve looked ahead and made the link between business success and clean green tourism,” said Bill Bayfield, Ministry for the Environment Sustainable Industry Group General Manager.

The businesses are part of a pilot project to build awareness among Northland tourism operators about the benefits of operating sustainably. In 2003 a key step was taken when a Northland Sustainable Tourism Charter was developed by a group of tourism, community and local government representatives.

The project is the first time the Ministry has worked in partnership with the tourism sector. As part of the pilot, the Ministry funded a consultant to conduct sustainability assessments for the participating businesses.

“Together with Enterprise Northland we’ve worked with the tourism operators to look at ways they can become more sustainable.

“Each business now has a plan of 12-15 practical actions that will deliver environmental benefits and at the same time create efficiency savings. Actions include using energy smarter, waste minimisation and recycling initiatives, and investigating the use of green building concepts into any new developments,” Mr Bayfield said.

Mr Bayfield said in the coming months a part-time sustainability assessor will be employed, as the result of the Ministry of Tourism providing additional funding, to help other tourism businesses in Northland improve their environmental performance.

Carol Maxwell of Enterprise Northland, said the success of the six businesses and the Ministry of Tourism funding signals an increase in the momentum behind sustainable tourism in Northland.

“The project is gaining traction. These businesses have road tested the charter and are leading the way for others by sharing what can be achieved.”

“We are currently exploring options with the Ministry of Tourism to share the lessons learnt from the Northland project with other regions,” said Mr Bayfield.

He added that the participating businesses may also be able to use
their achievements as a springboard to environmental and/or business accreditation schemes available in New Zealand.

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