A new scheme to rank the environmental performance of tourist operators in New Zealand is to be introduced, according to a government minister in the country.
New Zealand environment minister Damien O’Connor says the scheme, which will see 2,100 Kiwi tourism businesses ranked according to their green credentials, will prove a pulling-point as the nation competes with neighbouring Australia for European, Asian and North American visitors, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
Authorities believe the new scheme, set to be introduced in August, will reassure visitors from further afield who are concerned about the impact of long-haul flights on their carbon footprint.
Mr O’Connor said the new criteria will help the tourism industry meet the main goal of the New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2015, which is to be the leading contributor to a sustainable national economy.
“It also builds on the Labour-led government’s aim for New Zealand to be the first truly sustainable nation,” he added.
Meanwhile, the New Zealand tourism industry association chairman Norm Thompson has cited the credit crunch and increasing global competition as reasons for a drop in tourist visitors from several key markets in the 12 months to April 2008.
Some 11 per cent fewer tourists from Japan visited Kiwi shores during the period, with a two per cent decrease in visitors from the UK and a three per cent fall from the USA also being reported.
The travel guide series Lonely Planet rates New Zealand the second best value destination for tourists.