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Mark Burton--Qualmark launch vital step

Mark Burton--Qualmark launch vital step towards sustainability

Tourism Minister Mark Burton is today welcoming major extensions to the Qualmark programme, ensuring that an official quality assurance system is in place for the whole of New Zealand's tourism industry. It is, he says, "a vital step in creating long-term sustainable tourism in New Zealand."

Qualmark is an independent classification and quality rating system for accommodation and tourism retail businesses. The Qualmark brand will clearly identify businesses that have undergone detailed, comprehensive quality assessment in such areas as customer service, facilities, safety and security, and staff training.

Mark Burton stressed the importance of quality as a strategy in developing a world-class tourism industry in New Zealand.

"This government is dedicated to creating a sustainable, high yield tourism industry for New Zealand-one that will enhance both the experience of our visitors and New Zealanders' quality of life.

"We have already partnered with key industry representatives to create the New Zealand Tourism Strategy to 2010, a document which outlines strategies for achieving this goal.

"Quality was defined in the Strategy as one of the key factors in attaining sustainability, and the launch of Qualmark is the first step towards implementing the strategy as a whole. While increasing visitor numbers is important, it is vital to find a balance between the economic benefits of tourism with issues of sustainability.

"It is essential that visitors are encouraged come at different times of the year, to visit a greater number of places, to stay longer, to spend more, and to experience a wider range of products. To achieve this, visitors must be able to depend upon an exceptional standard across the industry.

"Qualmark will provide visitors with a reliable standardised quality assurance system. By using the Qualmark system to ensure that a high standard is maintained across all aspects of the tourism sector, visitors, businesses and the industry as a whole will all benefit."

The government is investing an additional $2.5 million in Qualmark over the next two and a half years.

This funding will be used to significantly expand the current grading system to include adventure tourism, transport activities and retail, eco-tourism and attractions and to provide a business certification process to encourage best business practice adoption in the tourism sector.

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