Environmentally conscious visitors to New Zealand can now make an informed decision where they’ll spend their tourist dollars: The country’s Sustainable Tourism Business Criteria represented by quality assurance organisation Qualmark has gained GSTC-Recognized Status from the UN-initiated Global Sustainable Tourism Council. This means international visitors can be confident that tourism experiences with the Qualmark-certification meet global standards of sustainability.
“We now have some of the best sustainability standards in the world”, said Steven Dixon, Qualmark General Manager talking to Neuseeland News. “The new global status gives tourism businesses another reason to be proud of gaining Qualmark accreditation, and helps to support their business and New Zealand’s transition to a regenerative tourism system.” Qualmark is a subsidiary of Tourism New Zealand and provides evidence that a business has been independently validated as a quality tourism business. It has more than 2000 members of which 30% have been awarded a Qualmark-Gold logo, which also represents the GSTC-certification standards. “Our Qualmark-Gold accreditation is the best, the creme de la creme in quality,” said Dixon.
New Zealand tourism businesses are awarded Bronze, Silver or Gold when evaluated against the Sustainable Tourism Business criteria. Qualmark Specialists conduct each evaluation by using the Sustainable Tourism Business criteria. The tourism sector in Aotearoa is focused on transitioning to a regenerative system that gives back more than it takes to New Zealand and New Zealanders. This is about ensuring that visitors explore further, connect with communities and contribute positively to the economy and environment.
“Qualmark demonstrates its dedication to a broad and global strategy by aligning with the principles of the Four Pillars of the GSTC Criteria, proving its commitment to a more sustainable future for New Zealand,” said Randy Durband, GSTC Chief Executive Officer.
What is the GSTC?
Founded in 2007, the GSTC is a United Nations-initiated programme that establishes and manages global standards for sustainable travel and tourism, known as the GSTC Criteria. The “Partnership for Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria” was initiated by the Rainforest Alliance, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Foundation (UN Foundation), and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), together with a coalition of 32 prominent partners in the tourism industry. The purpose was to bring the adoption of universal sustainable tourism principles, standardizing a common language for sustainable tourism.
What is the GSTC Recognition about?
The GSTC have recognised the Qualmark Sustainable Tourism Business Criteria as being in line with the GSTC Industry Criteria. This means the Qualmark Standard helps tourism businesses become more sustainable from a people, environmental and operational perspective at a globally recognised level. It guarantees that all Qualmark businesses are following a recognized standard that aligns with universal criteria for sustainable management, social and economic benefits to the local community, cultural heritage preservation and the reduction of pollution.
Currently, 15 destination standards in the world have achieved GSTC-Recognised status. (NN-07-09-23)