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Tourism Conference achieves carbon neutral aim

Tourism Industry Conference achieves carbon neutral aim

As part of its efforts to keep New Zealand clean and green, the tourism industry has succeeded in making its annual conference “carbon neutral”. Delegates to the Tourism Industry Conference, held at SKYCITY Auckland, on September 19-21, raised more than $2000 to pay for forest regeneration projects in New Zealand.

Participants were asked to contribute $7.50 each towards neutralising the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions generated during the conference.

By the end of the conference, more than 220 delegates had paid up, with many contributing more than the suggested $7.50. United States-based National Geographic Traveler magazine, whose editor-in-chief Keith Bellows was a keynote speaker, donated $100 a day.

Based on the average journey lengths of the delegates and the number of hotel nights, Landcare Research estimated the total CO2 produced by the conference would amount to around 100 tonnes, requiring about 30ha of forests to neutralise it. Money raised will be used to aid regeneration efforts at the EBEX 2 forest in Marlborough managed by Landcare.

The theme of the conference was “Managing Paradise” and many of the sessions focussed on understanding and managing tourism’s impacts on the environment. It was organised by the Tourism Industry Association, whose chief executive Fiona Luhrs said it was essential the tourism industry played a leading role in managing environmental issues.

“Tourism is New Zealand’s single biggest export industry and our international marketing relies heavily on our ‘clean, green’ image. The industry is keen to take a lead in caring for our environment,” she said.

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Key statistics about tourism:

Tourism is the world's fastest growing industry

New Zealand tourism arrivals have doubled in size since 1994

Forecast annual growth is 6% on average for at least the next five years

Tourism is New Zealand's single largest export sector and contributed $7.4 billion dollars to the economy in the year ended March 2004. That is 18.5% of exports

Tourism directly and indirectly employs 10 percent of the work force. That is one in 10 jobs in New Zealand.

Tourism represents 9.6% of gross domestic product and generates nearly $500 million in GST returns from international visitors each year. Tourism is the only export sector whose international clients pay GST.

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