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Burton: Environmental awareness a way of life

Tuesday 23 November

Hon Mark Burton: Environmental awareness a way of life: Speech to Kaikoura Green Globe 21 celebrations

I am delighted to be here this evening, to celebrate Kaikoura’s outstanding achievement in becoming the first town in the world to achieve Green Globe 21 Certification.

No other town anywhere in the world has taken such a forward-looking environmental approach, and I cannot congratulate you enough on this.

Through the partnership established with local businesses and the commitment of your community, the Kaikoura District Council has been able to drive this process.

As a result, Kaikoura now has the honour of becoming the first local authority in the world to achieve Green Globe 21 Certification. No other local authority in the world has played such an important role in the certification of their community.

Again, I congratulate you on this world-leading achievement.

The certification of Kaikoura is a practical step towards sustainability that shows the world we are serious about meeting environmental issues head-on.

The New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2010 signalled the need to develop a truly sustainable tourism market—one that balances tourism’s obvious economic benefits with the care, protection, and wherever possible, the enhancement of the natural and cultural environments of New Zealand.

Our spectacular landscapes and unique environments are still what define us to prospective overseas guests (and then they get here and see how much more there is!). Whale Rider and The Lord of the Rings trilogy showcased them to millions of moviegoers internationally.

Our 100% Pure marketing campaign—a widely-known, award-winning brand—also makes the most of such images, advertising them to our target markets around the world.

But if we are going to deliver on our promise of paradise, we all need to take sustainability seriously. Through Green Globe 21, Kaikoura is certainly stepping up to the mark.

This certification shows that the tourism industry in Kaikoura has acknowledged that environmental, social, and economic sustainability are crucial to ensuring the sector’s long-term future.

It is extremely satisfying to see this community turning Strategy 2010’s vision into reality.

As many of you here tonight will know, this government supported Green Globe 21’s establishment in New Zealand. Their continued work with the tourism industry is a vital resource for communities and operators as they work towards sustainability.

Green Globe 21 and Qualmark are also working in partnership, to ensure their individual accreditation programmes are coordinated and complementary.

After all (as I have said once or twice in the past!), quality is absolutely at the heart of a truly sustainable tourism sector.

Kaikoura’s certification comes at a time when tourism has taken its rightful place as a premier industry for New Zealand—in my opinion, our most exciting, innovative, and valuable sector.

Forecasts from the Tourism Research Council New Zealand predict healthy growth of 5.8 per cent per annum in international visitor arrivals, and an even stronger 8.5 per cent per annum increase in international tourism spending to reach $11.3 billion in 2010.

With a similar value of domestic tourism activity, the tourism sector is forecast to generate $23 billion of expenditure in 2010, up from $14.8 billion in 2003.

Tourism in the Canterbury region also looks strong, with total visitor numbers forecast to increase over 17 per cent to almost six million visitors in 2010. More importantly, visitor expenditure is predicted to increase by over 50 per cent to $3.2 billion in that same period.

When Tourism New Zealand was developing the successful, multi-award winning 100% Pure campaign, they went through the process of analysing what New Zealand meant to people.

When we asked what they thought of when they heard the words “New Zealand”, we found one very clear message—authenticity. Our target market—Interactive Travellers—aren’t going to travel halfway around the world for something they could get at home.

These visitors want an authentic Kiwi experience.

Well educated, travelling internationally on a regular basis, and quite often sporting a relatively high level of discretionary income, these guests are looking for unique, authentic experiences that involve real interaction with both people and environments.

Interactive travelers are exceptionally valuable to New Zealand: spending more, getting out into the outlying regions, and as keen as we are to interact with and protect the very environments and heritage that have drawn them here.

Clearly, the Kaikoura community understands this. You have invested considerable time, energy, and planning in order to reap the benefits of responsible, sustainable tourism growth. I encourage other communities around the country to follow your lead.

New Zealand is no ordinary destination. Our guests can enjoy adventure tourism, world-class food and wine, a wide range of quality accommodation, wildlife, skiing, and unique cultural events—all set against the backdrop of the world’s most beautiful and diverse landscapes.

But we must all work together to protect them, especially in the light of our projected growth.

I believe that New Zealand can and will stay on top of international tourism for the long term. We are in population terms roughly the size of Sydney, thousands of kilometers away from most our key markets, and yet, we have captured the imagination of the world.

We are innovative, talented, determined, and downright cheeky enough to hold the world’s attention for as long as we remain determined to do so.

And those very same attributes are going to see us achieve a truly sustainable tourism industry.

Yes - We CAN cut it and be world class. As evidenced by this certification—we already are.

I applaud the work you have done to achieve this Green Globe 21 Certification, and I know that the commitment you have shown toward your environment will assure a quality experience for visitors to this community for many years to come.

Thank you again for the opportunity to share in this important occasion, and celebrate your Green Globe 21 Certification.

ENDS

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