Budget Accommodation Provider Challenges Industry
New Zealand: YHA New Zealand has been announced as a finalist in the 2019 New Zealand Tourism Awards. The budget accommodation provider is being recognised in the Enviro-Mark Solutions Environmental Award category alongside Auckland Zoo, Kiwi Experience, and Sudima Hotels.
The award represents a challenge from the not-for-profit network to the rest of the industry. “There’s a perception that environmental initiatives have to be these big expensive add-ons. Those big add-ons do help, but our approach has always been to build in sustainability from the ground up. If we can do it in an extremely price-sensitive, low-margin operating environment, we really believe everyone should be able to do it,” says General Manager, Marketing and Sales, Brian Westwood.
YHA New Zealand was the first accommodation network in the world to become carboNZeroCertTM certified. The network also represents the largest accommodation network certified, with the certification including all thirteen YHA-managed hostels and National Office.
YHA has installed solar energy including photovoltaic panels and efficient hot water systems in Franz Josef, Wellington, Aoraki Mt Cook, and the brand new YHA Lake Tekapo. YHA Rotorua is also utilising harnessing geothermal energy to power the hostel's hot water system.
As a carboNZeroCertTM certified accommodation network, YHA commits to reducing their carbon emissions by 5% year on year. Over the last two years, they’ve achieved a 14.6% reduction, exceeding that target significantly. On solar-installed sites alone, the organisation has also achieved financial savings of over $165,000 – something Chief Executive Mark Wells says is proof of the benefits to the planet and to the bottom line.
“We became carboNZero certified because it was the right thing to do,” says Mr Wells. “We’ve avoided producing over 130 tonnes of carbon in the last two years, which is something we’re really proud of. Being recognised as finalists in the New Zealand Tourism Awards reinforces our ongoing commitment to sustainability.”
“We really want to lay down the challenge that if we can have these sustainability successes as a budget accommodation provider, then anyone can do it.”
The recognition also includes work undertaken alongside Meridian to make Mount Cook Village, Franz Josef and Te Anau more accessible for those with electric vehicles, following the installation of EV chargers at YHA hostels in these locations. These were installed as part of the government’s Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund, administered by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) which aims to accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles in New Zealand.
This latest Award nomination follows YHA being recognised as finalists in the Deloitte Energy Excellence Awards alongside Sunshine Solar. YHA Aoraki Mt Cook was also recognised as a finalist in the Qualmark 100% Pure New Zealand Experience Awards.
Award winners will be announced in Christchurch on Thursday 24 October.
About YHA New Zealand
The Youth Hostels Association of New Zealand (YHA New Zealand) is a not-for-profit association established in 1932 in Canterbury. With a network of over 35 hostels in both islands, YHA New Zealand provides high quality budget accommodation to New Zealanders and international travellers. YHA New Zealand is a committed advocate of sustainable practices. For more information, please visit: www.yha.co.nz.