Qualmark Celebrates First Green Birthday
New Zealand’s world-leading environmental accreditation system for tourism businesses - Qualmark Green - is one year old today.
It’s not easy being green, but over 200 tourism businesses have shown it can be done by achieving Qualmark Green enviro-ratings within 12 months of the programme’s launch.
Of those, 50 have immediately reached Enviro-Gold standard - the highest ranking available under the system.
"We are delighted that we’ve got 200 accredited businesses and 50 who went straight to Enviro-Gold. The Qualmark enviro-rating system is demanding and thorough so that’s quite an achievement in just 12 months," says Qualmark Chief Executive Geoff Penrose.
Qualmark is New Zealand tourism’s official quality accreditation programme. The launch of Qualmark Green enviro-ratings last year made Qualmark the world’s first fully-integrated environmental and quality accreditation programme for tourism.
The five key assessment areas for the Qualmark Green enviro-ratings are energy efficiency, waste reduction, water management, and involvement in conservation and community activities. Operators must provide evidence that they have processes and programmes in place to monitor and improve performance across these areas.
The rankings are on top of the set of minimum requirements for responsible tourism operations that form part of every Qualmark quality assessment. Over 1,600 tourism businesses have been assessed against these criteria in the past year.
Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive George Hickton says protecting the environment is important to ensure the tourism industry is sustainable now and into the future, and to allow it to deliver on the 100% Pure New Zealand brand promise.
"After some effort Tourism New Zealand itself earned an Enviro-Bronze rating earlier this year, so we know these ratings are not easy to get. But the outcome for our organisation has been better environmental practices across the board and we are still improving," Mr Hickton says.
In November 2008, New Zealand won the ‘Overall Winner’ and ‘Best Destination’ categories in the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards in London. The judges recognised Qualmark Green as one of New Zealand’s most important achievements in responsible tourism.
The George Hotel in Christchurch is one of the most recent operators to receive a Qualmark enviro-rating. It learned last week that it had received an Enviro-Gold in its first Qualmark Green assessment.
The George General Manager Bruce Garrett says the Enviro-Gold was something his organisation set out to achieve as soon as they learned about the launch of Qualmark Green last year.
"It has been a lot of hard work and something that required buy-in from everyone, so we are thrilled to get the recognition," Mr Garrett says.
"We’re finding that our customers are increasingly interested in environmental policies and we believe the Qualmark enviro-rating will help us to stay an attractive option for our guests."
Find out more about Qualmark at www.qualmark.co.nz.
For further information contact:
Cas Carter, Tourism New Zealand Communications
021 915 410