Bid for sustainable tourism gathers pace

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

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

More than five million tourists are predicted to visit New Zealand before 2024, 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.

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 focused 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 tourism needed to be done responsibly.

"We've got to make sure ... that we are sustainable and we look after our environment because that's what people come here for,'' he 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.'' 

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