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Fund to help tourism become more sustainable

8 February 2005 Media Statement

Fund to help tourism become more sustainable

A $1.2 million project to help New Zealand tourism operators tap into the rewards of smart environmental business practice was announced today by Tourism Minister Mark Burton and Environment Minister Marian Hobbs.

The funding is for six regions to take part in the three-year Environmentally Sustainable Tourism project. It is funded by the New Zealand Tourism Strategy Fund and will be managed by the Ministry for the Environment.

Mark Burton said tourism relies heavily on our unique natural environment so it makes sense that tourism businesses look after the environment.

"By putting in place some simple initiatives these businesses can boost their marketing opportunities and brand integrity while also becoming more efficient," he added .

Marian Hobbs said the project is about taking a fresh look at making business improvements that benefit the environment.

"It aims to give tourist operators resources, knowledge and practical tips that they can incorporate into their daily business," Marian Hobbs said.

The project involves each region developing a sustainable tourism charter, with interested local businesses committing to the charter’s principles. A sustainability expert will work with the businesses to turn the charter into action, focusing on making improvements over time. Energy efficiency, waste reduction, recycling, water quality and conservation, are examples of areas that might be improved.

The project builds on the success of the Northland Sustainable Tourism project with Enterprise Northland and the Ministry for the Environment in 2003-2004.

Fullers Bay of Islands CEO Kit Nixon said visitors and wholesalers alike are increasingly looking for businesses that can show their commitment to good environmental behaviour.

"Signing up to the charter and working on our environmental action plan strengthens our position for future growth," Mr Nixon said.

Northland tourism operator Jeroen Jongejans who owns Dive Tutukaka, said the sustainability programme provided a new way for him to look at his business.

"We have made some small and some more significant changes, bringing financial and environmental benefits," Mr Jongejans said.

Marian Hobbs says the Northland experience proves that tourism operators see the value of good environmental practice, but simply lack the trigger to take action.

"This project should make it easier for businesses to make some positive changes," she said.

All 28 Regional Tourism Organisations have been invited to apply to the Ministry for the Environment if they want to take part in the project. Northland has already been confirmed as taking part. An announcement on other participating regions is expected in March.

ENDS

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