New Zealand to lead the world in sustainable tourism

Eliza Raymond
Jul 23, 2023

We spoke to Bruce Bassett from Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) to find out more about the new Tourism Sustainability Commitment. Bruce is TIA's Tourism 2025 Advocate and passionate about TIA's vision for New Zealand to lead the world in sustainable tourism. He explains:

We want a New Zealand where our economy, people and environment are better off because of tourism. The Tourism Sustainability Commitment is for industry, by industry. Our goal is for the tourism industry to lead the way in making New Zealand a top destination for sustainable tourism.

So what does the new Tourism Sustainability Commitment mean for GOOD travellers visiting New Zealand? Bruce tells us that the new TIA Committed to Sustainability logo is something visitors to New Zealand should start looking out for when trying to decide where to stay and which company to book a tour with.

However, it's important to understand that the Tourism Sustainability Commitment is self-reporting. Their goal is for wide-uptake, so it's relatively easy for businesses to join the initiative. Bruce clarifies:

This is not an accreditation system. Businesses who sign up to the commitment do so on a voluntary, self-reporting basis. TIA is focusing on broad uptake of the commitment with the goal of then working with tourism businesses to share examples of good practice and provide practical actions they can implement to become more sustainable.

So as GOOD travellers, it's important that you continue to ask questions to tourism businesses that have signed up to the commitment to make sure that they are delivering on the issues that you care about. This will also help show businesses in New Zealand that there is a growing demand for sustainable tourism - and that as travellers we expect them to deliver on their commitments.

The Tourism Sustainability Commitment is split into four categories - Economic Sustainability, Visitor Sustainability, Host Community Sustainability and Environmental Sustainability. The commitments under these final two categories are particularly relevant for GOOD travellers and can be used to shape the questions you ask accommodation providers and tour companies before booking with them. 

Host Community Sustainability

New Zealand businesses involved in the Tourism Sustainability Commitment have committed to working towards the following:

  • Sustainable Employment: Businesses pay a fair wage to all staff
  • Quality Employment: Businesses support their workforce to flourish and succeed
  • Community Engagement: Businesses actively engage with the communities in which they operate
  • Sustainable Supply Chains: Businesses have social and environmentally sustainable supply chains

So as GOOD travellers, you might want to ask businesses questions such as:

  • How are you supporting your workforce to flourish and succeed?
  • Are you involved in any initiatives to support your local community?
  • How do you source your supplies? Where do they come from?

An example of one of the 'early adopters' of the Tourism Sustainability Commitment working hard in this area is Real Journeys. They are committed to being one of the region's most progressive employers through initiatives such as increased and customised training, creating more permanent staff employment opportunities, setting up a Diversity and Inclusion Council, and the construction of new staff accommodation. As a family-owed business, they are also actively involved in the local community and have raised more than $100,000 for community groups through initiatives such as Cruise-for-a-Cause. 

Environmental Sustainabiliity

New Zealand businesses involved in the Tourism Sustainability Commitment have also committed to working towards the following:

  • Ecological Restoration: Businesses contribute to ecological restoration initiatives
  • Carbon Reduction: Businesses have carbon reduction programmes towards carbon neutrality
  • Waste Management: Businesses have waste reduction and management programmes
  • Education: Businesses actively engage with their visitors and communities on the importance of restoring, protecting and enhancing New Zealand's natural environment

As GOOD travellers, you might want to ask questions such as:

  • How are you contributing to ecological restoration?
  • How are you working to reduce your carbon footrpint?
  • What initiatives are you involved with to reduce waste?
  • How can I learn more as a traveller about how to protect New Zealand's natural environment?

An example of one of the 'early adopters' of the Tourism Sustainability Commitment working hard in the area of environmental sustainability is Sudima Hotels & Resorts. Sudima Auckland Airport became New Zealand's first CarboNZero accredited hotel in 2014 and Sudima Christchurch Airport recently achieved the same carbon neutral status. Green initiatives in the hotels range from electric car charging stations and rainwater harvesting to chemical free cleaning products. They also ensure that they're working with suppliers that share their values for sustainability such as coffee partners that provide Fairtrade, certified organic beans and bathroom product partners that supply environmentally friendly products and convert used soap bars into biodiesel and biodegradable building products. 

For more examples of GOOD practice in New Zealand, see

Other logos to look out for in New Zealand

In addition to the Committed to Sustainability logo, we also recommend looking out for the following accreditations and programmes when choosing where to spend your money in New Zealand.


Qualmark is New Zealand tourism’s official quality accreditation programme for tourism businesses. They assess businesses in four key criteria: health & safety, environment, social/people and economic. This is a full accreditation programme, so businesses that are certified by Qualmark have been through a detailed process to ensure that they meet Qualmark criteria.

Find Qualmark certified businesses here.

Conscious Consumers

We highly recommend downloading the Conscious Consumers App to help you find cafes and restaurants that align with your values while you're in New Zealand. Their App will also give you great deals and let you track how much you've spent at accredited businesses.

Learn more about Conscious Consumers here.

CarboNZ and CEMARS

The carboNZero and CEMARS (Certified Emissions Measurement And Reduction Scheme) programmes enable efficient and credible carbon footprint calculation, reporting and reduction. Third-party certification ensures accurate and consistent carbon measurement, reduction and neutrality claims. They are not just for tourism businesses, but certified businesses in New Zealand do include a number of tourism businesses.

Find CaroNZero certified businesses here.


EarthCheck is a global accreditation programme for tourism businesses. It is a rigorous process requiring tourism operators who display the EarthCheck certified seal to clearly demonstrate their environmental and social performance. EarthCheck is certified by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and has been approved by the CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project).

Learn more about EarthCheck here.

Do you know of additional accreditation programmes or GOOD initiatives in New Zealand that we've missed out? Or what accreditation programmes have you seen in other countries? Please let us know in the comments below. Thank you!

July 23, 2023
5 min read