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Environmental impact of travel a threat to Aotearoa's tourism industry, report finds

Growing concern about the impact of travel on the environment represents a threat to tourism - and in particular to New Zealand, an independent report of Tourism New Zealand shows.

Campervan in New Zealand (file picture). Source: istock.com

It includes growing global concerns about climate change, environmental degradation and wider sustainability practices.

"Growing awareness and concern about carbon emissions are predicted to have a significant effect on travel choices globally over coming years," the report said.

"Given New Zealand's distance from most source markets, the potential implications for our international tourism industry of travellers’ carbon emission concerns is not to be ignored; careful reflection by our tourism industry is required to support our long-term visitation proposition."

The report also found, though, that the Government’s Aotearoa New Zealand Government Tourism Strategy and Tourism Industry Aotearoa’s (TIA) Tourism 2025 & Beyond framework recognised and articulated pathways forward on the issue.

However, it said having built such a strong international brand over the last 20 years, the 100% Pure New Zealand brand was synonymous not just with tourism but, in part, with New Zealand's wider country brand.

"While it was never intended to be an environmental statement, New Zealand's reliance on its landscapes in international tourism marketing has inevitably seen it interpreted that way, both on and offshore. Concern regarding the deterioration in New Zealand's environment, coupled with global sustainability concerns, means it is more important than ever that the broader pillars of the 100% Pure New Zealand brand are profiled and understood," the report said.

It said Tourism New Zealand's work to reposition the 100% Pure New Zealand brand was "a good step in this direction".

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis said the report added momentum to our Government's tourism strategy, which aimed to enrich New Zealand through sustainable tourism growth.

"The findings show there are opportunities for TNZ to expand their role and apply their expertise in other areas of the tourism system, including in data and insights," he said.

"It also makes clear there's a growing concern about carbon emissions which is predicted to have a significant effect on travel choices globally over coming years. With this in mind, TNZ have agreed to undertake immediate action to understand the impact climate concerns have on potential visitors choosing New Zealand as a destination.

"The research will focus on building our understanding of the views of the visitor.  I expect this work will then form a strong foundation for further action by Government and the sector."