‘Sustainable’ and ‘tourism’ are ideas that are uneasy bed mates. Long haul flights, waste, building developments, water degradation and the biosecurity risk of international travellers are examples of short, medium and long term environmental costs that can scupper dreams of sustainability.
Brian Mullis in the growth paradox* writes that ”Overall the sector’s commitment to sustainable development is decidedly weak”. He writes that it is frequently short term profit-driven thinking, that it is shareholder focused and that politicians are appeasing constituents to be re-elected. Social and environmental costs balloon. However, Mullis also pulls out some very interesting data that shows quite clearly that consumer choice within tourism is now bending at considerable pace towards destinations and products that hold high their social and environmental values. We find this so encouraging to hear. The people are revolting…
Let us introduce www.sustainabletourism.nz, a paint by numbers set of protocols for tourism business' setting out to achieve economic goals, but to share the benefits with supportive host communities and to contribute to restoring, protecting and enhancing the natural environment.
What we like about this is the mana it brings to those who aspire to these values and are trying to operate in a commercial world. Mana is a Maori word variously described as authority, control, power, influence, status charisma. Sustainabletourism.nz seems a well thought out set of guiding principles and the required actions to serve those principles. It should make all those businesses who subscribe (and act obviously) look pretty snappy!
Sustainable Tourism New Zealand holds dear the following values and we thought it would be interesting to see the things that we do in Hiking New Zealand which fit within these frames.
The guardianship and protection of our natural, built and cultural resources for the benefit of current and future generations.
Slow down and engage with nature, listen to the stories of land and its people, drink from the rivers, chew the Horopito leaves, taste the honey dew and sleep under the stars – these are our treasures. We have a belief that to truly care for the environment we need to be fascinated and in awe of it. This means running tours that move at a bit slower and respect the places we visit, not merely passing through in a bus looking for the perfect Instagram shot.
Showing respect, hospitality, generosity and care for others.
We embrace New Zealand’s particularly egalitarian culture of the back-country. It does not matter what you do for a living, where you come from or how old you are. Hiking in the mountains brings challenge for some of us. Being supportive, friendly and encouraging to our fellow travellers and people we meet along the trail is vital to a good experience.
A relationship through shared experiences and working together which provides people with a sense of belonging.
Sounds like a good hike in our book! The bringing together of people with a shared love for nature and adventure, people looking out for each other, preparing and eating great food together. Be part of our whanau!
Having strong values or seeking nirvana doesn’t mean you have to fall on your sword if you don’t quite get there. Have a road map, the sooner you begin the sooner you cover the distance. So, don’t be a purist, just keep rolling in the right direction as fast as you can.
*References: The growth paradox - Brian Mullis world economic forum