Bid for sustainable tourism gathers pace

6:55 pm on 8 January 2019

A push for sustainable tourism is being embraced by the industry as visitor numbers look set to boom.

Tourists throng at the church in Tekapo.

Tourists visit the Church of Good Shepherd at Tekapo. Photo: RNZ / Rachel Graham

More than five million visitors are predicted to visit before 2024, which is more than the country's current population.

Sustainability has become a focus of both the industry and the government, which joined together to announce the Tiaki Promise late last year.

The promise called for tourists to act as guardians of New Zealand's environment while respecting the culture and people.

It follows the tourism sustainability commitment launched in November 2017, which aims to encourage sustainable growth while protecting the environment and benefiting local communities.

Chris Roberts the Chief Executive of Tourism Industry Aotearoa at the iSITE in Wellington. He is surrounded by New Zealand maps and tourist leaflets

Chris Roberts Photo: RNZ/Teresa Cowie

Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts said the industry was on track to meet visitor growth sustainably, but work needed to be done.

"We're now into eight years of sustained growth in the domestic tourism market. Because we've had this period of almost unprecedented success, we're now able to have a forward looking conversation about where to next, how do we manage this growth," Mr Roberts said.

The TIA wanted every tourism business to adopt most, if not all, of the 14 goals by 2025, he said.

The sector was having forward looking conversations to focus on increasing the value of tourists to the country, not the volume, Mr Roberts said.

The commitment is based off the values of Kaitiakitanga - guardianship of natural, built and cultural resources, Manaakitanga - showing respect and hospitality towards others, and Whanaungatanga - building relationships through shared experiences and working together.

There are eight industry goals including reaching $41 billion in total annual revenue by 2025.

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis said that tourism had a lot to contribute to the country, but it needed to be done responsibly.

"Of course, as New Zealanders we're very proud of our country. We've got to make sure... that we are sustainable and we look after our environment because that's what people come here for," Mr Davis said.

"They come here for our landscapes, they also come here for our stories and people, and we've got to make sure that it's all working in harmony."

New Zealand needed to deliver world leading experiences for visitors while benefiting local communities, he said.

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