Responsible Tourism – Do We Deliver?

New Zealand is certainly a proactive country when it comes to supporting “Responsible Tourism” and the Pure New Zealand brand is an integral part of promoting this image.  But with strong promotion of “100% Pure” comes high expectations from our visitors that we do respect our  local communities, cultures and environment.

See this video from Justin Francis co-founder of Responsibletravel.com who defines what “Responsible tourism” is and consider what your tourism business does to support and implement this concept.  It’s something all New Zealand tourism businesses should be aiming to adhere to, and it’s great to see initiatives from Tourism New Zealand like Sustainable Tourism Advisors and Qualmark Green plus training in Ecotourism from organisations like EcotourismNZ.  Support for developing strong and authentic cultural experiences is evident with the Maori Tourism Mentoring Programme.

We are also seeing the development of specialist travel websites like Organic Explorer and Ecotours New Zealand that help to promote relevant tourism operators throughout New Zealand.

Do you think New Zealand is succeeding in delivering a “Responsible Tourism” image?  Can we expect all tourism sectors to contribute? Comments welcome!

7 Comments

  1. Jeremy Zinzan February 10, 2010 at 11:57 am #

    I think so long as an operator is independently assessed by a credible environmental accreditation agency, they’re on their way to delivering a responsible tourism message.

    Qualmark Green goes some way to achieving this, but is certainly far from comprehensive. Green Globe accreditation sounds like a stricter process, with a more arduous benchmark to attain, but is always going to be less popular since it is a LOT more expensive, and as above, the benchmark set is considerably higher…

  2. admin February 10, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    Thanks Jeremy, I see Exclusive Ecolodges is another good example of promoting eco-friendly and sustainable travel.

  3. Jeremy Zinzan February 10, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    …and 10% of the tariff on ALL bookings made through the website is donated to a local conservation project!

  4. Motella February 12, 2010 at 9:11 am #

    I must admit that I struggled to watch the video all the way through in one sitting;-)

    The original aspirational 100% Pure branding has unfortunately become an environmental message that frankly no country can deliver. Ironically all of the concern and hand-wringing that is occurring with the over promise and under delivery of the branding is probably contained within the NZ tourism industry itself.

    Is it time to get “100% Real?”

    While we respect that some accommodation providers use their own initiative by projecting their environmental and social views to the populace and thus engage in niche marketing, we object to Responsible Tourism rhetoric being mandated to all operators by government sponsored institutions.

    An example of this occurred under the centralist directive of the Clark government when a fashionable and politically correct environmental criteria was unilaterally inserted into Qualmark’s quality benchmarking assessment.

    Qualmark, by making the environmental section compulsory and embedded into their quality assessment has motivated accommodation operators to create copious amounts of greenwash in order to protect their star ratings.

    Ironically, this has probably undermined our environmental credibility and devalued those accommodation operators that were offering a genuine experience.

    Our own personal view is that Responsible Tourism has become another example of the institutionalised creep of environmental evangelism. We cringe at the promotion of the politically correct quadruple bottom line, where environmental, social and cultural mysticism is elevated ahead of profit.

    Are accommodation providers that don’t cut and paste a Responsible Tourism Mission Statements running an “Irresponsible Tourism” business? – We think not.

    Political correctness has taken precedence over core business principals. The first duty of a business is to its shareholders and employees is to make a profit. The old-fashioned, one-dimensional financial bottom line must always take precedence. The failure to do so has its own serious social consequences.

    Business is the wealth-creating institution of society. Its prime “social” role is to meet consumers’ needs in the most efficient manner, and this is how capitalism has raised living standards to the level we enjoy today.

    Business should not be seen as a social welfare adjunct; however it is unsettling that tourism businesses are joining a hard core of Pollyanna cottage industry profit apologists that are establishing themselves in our business community.

  5. admin February 12, 2010 at 9:48 am #

    While I agree that businesses must focus on the bottom line as number 1 priority, I think there is also a responsibility to operate in a way that minimises their negative impact on our environment. Afterall it’s our environment and culture that attracts travellers here isn’t it?

    It’s also becoming more evident that travellers want to support tourism businesses that operate in an environmentally friendly way and offer real NZ experiences not just manufactured for tourists – so it can certainly become a good selling point. Responsible tourism doesn’t have to be at the expense of profit if delivered in an authentic way, not just for the sake of meeting official criteria.

  6. admin February 18, 2010 at 3:45 pm #

    Interesting that AA Travel and Qualmark have just put out a travel guide featuring only accommodation that meet both Qualmark and environmental criteria. See more details here:
    http://www.stoppress.co.nz/news/2010/02/qualmark-gets-rub-of-the-green/

  7. Rory April 10, 2010 at 5:17 am #

    As a traveller, I support businesses that are environmentally friendly. We base our accommodation on Qualmark and if it’s locally owned.

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