Draft tourism plan backs bold action on the environment

  • Draft Tourism Environment Action Plan outlines key actions to meet climate and biodiversity challenges
  • Decarbonisation of tourism journeys – next stage of sustainable aviation fuel feasibility studies announced
  • Tourism operators equipped with tools and technology for sustainability and regeneration

Tourism has an essential role to play in reversing the decline of Aotearoa New Zealand’s unique biodiversity and protecting the environment, Tourism Minister Peeni Henare says.

“A draft Tourism Environment Action Plan launched today for public consultation sets out actions to further shift the tourism industry to a regenerative model that gives back more than it takes,” Peeni Henare said.

“The draft action plan is bold and ambitious – and it needs to be.

“We have a critical window of opportunity to create and courageously unite behind a new vision for tourism in Aotearoa. If we are to reverse the decline of our unique biodiversity and contribute to global efforts to create a balanced and sustainable climate, we must act now.

“Tourism touches every part of the motu and has a major influence on how we are seen by the rest of the world. Consumer awareness of environmental issues is increasing. It is vitally important we continue preserving our natural environment as one of our key attractions as a world-class destination. This plan shows that tourism can lead the way,” Peeni Henare said.

The draft action plan is the second phase of the Tourism Industry Transformation Plan and was developed by the tourism industry, unions, Māori and government.

“Thank you to the Tourism Environment Leadership Group for their courage and ambition.

They have not shied away from considering the negative impacts tourism can have on the environment, and nor have they ignored the positive impacts,” Peeni Henare said.

“The experiences visitors have in Aotearoa can help to shape their actions and beliefs about nature. This is an opportunity for the New Zealand tourism industry to become a global leader in adopting regenerative practices.

“It is important people take the opportunity now to give us feedback on the proposals. We are keen to hear from stakeholders who hold a range of views.” Peeni Henare said.

The draft action plan proposes six focus areas including decarbonisation of tourism to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

“A key action is investment in finding low-carbon fuel options. Today we announced we will co-fund the next stage of feasibility studies into local production of sustainable aviation fuel, in partnership with Air New Zealand. If successful, this will build tourism’s resilience and rapidly accelerate Aotearoa’s energy transition, ” Peeni Henare said.

Other actions in the draft action plan focus on closer collaboration between tourism operators and local communities to create a picture of what healthy visitation looks like, and regeneration tourism projects that deliver tangible benefits for locals and visitors alike.

The plan also proposes support for operators to adopt sustainable or regenerative practices, from toolkits to peer-to-peer mentoring networks.

The draft Tourism Environment Action Plan and information about the public consultation, can be found here. The closing date for submissions is 14 July and a final action plan will be released by the end of 2023.