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Is GDP the best measure of success?

News from the Aviation, Tourism and Travel Training Organisation, for immediate use

Is GDP the best measure of success?

Is GDP the only measure of success for a country, or should we be looking at different methods, is the question being asked at this year’s Tourism Export Council NZ Conference.

David Wilks, Department of Conservation Commercial Director, will be discussing an alternative measure, Gross National Happiness, which pegs economic success with measures of wellbeing, such as happiness, spiritual health and the environment.

The Aviation, Tourism and Travel Training Organisation is sponsoring David’s presentation at the event, which is taking place on the West Coast this week.

Gross National Happiness was coined in Bhutan in the early 70s as a way of balancing the economic progress of the country with its core spiritual and social values. David was given an introduction to the measure as a guest at the PATA Adventure Travel and Responsible Tourism Conference in the country in February.
He said: “It’s an interesting concept and a more holistic way of looking at government policy and how it affects people measuring things like health and the environment, rather than just the economy. It’s even been accepted by the UN as a legitimate measure for a country’s success.
“It’s important to have a look at what other people are doing and what we can learn from them. Not to say that we would adopt this policy, as there are differences even in the way people understand what happiness is.

“But there are similarities in our cultures, we have strong and unique Maori culture as well as a stunning environment and a primary and tourism sectors benefit from. What we need to look at is how we develop and invest in those.

“At DOC, we’re now leading a strategy to look at ways of connecting business with the environment to ensure positive outcomes for both, and how economic growth can work hand in hand with measures of wellbeing.”

David’s presentation, Gross National Happiness, The Bhutan Story, takes place on Thursday 23 August at 11am in the Miners’ Hall, Shantytown, near Greymouth.

Kathy Wolfe, Chief Executive of ATTTO said: “We’re always keen to encourage new thinking and fresh ideas in the tourism sector, especially ensuring visitor experiences create happy and meaningful memories.

“The sector, and particularly inbound tourism, depends on the things that make New Zealand special, things such as our environment, culture, people and stories. Any move to quantify the value and contribution of these to the country would be positive.”

ATTTO is also holding a workshop about identifying future training needs in the inbound tourism and related areas of the sector. The session is taking place at 8.30 on Thursday 23 August, also in the Miners’ Hall.

Kathy said: “The session will be an important opportunity to help ATTTO plan and develop nationally recognised learning that is relevant and meets current and future sector needs. We’re keen for as many people as possible to come along to the session to ensure we get a wide range of views from across this diverse sector.”
For more information about the conference, visit or for more info about the work of ATTTO, visit

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