Check out these Frequently Asked Questions to find out about the New Zealand Tourism Sustainability Commitment and how and why you should get involved.

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About the Commitment

What the TSC is, why it was developed and who was involved.

Q: What is the Tourism Sustainability Commitment?

The New Zealand Tourism Sustainability Commitment sits alongside the Tourism 2025 & Beyond - Sustainable Growth Framework. It sets out 12 Commitments that individual businesses can work towards. Together, we can create a world-leading, truly sustainable tourism industry that will make a positive long-term contribution to New Zealand.

Q: What are the Commitments?

There are 12 Business Commitments for businesses to work towards. Find out more

Q: Why was it developed?

The TSC was developed as an outcome of the Tourism 2025 & Beyond - Sustainable Growth Framework refresh which said the New Zealand tourism industry can and must develop strategies to ensure it is demonstrably committed to looking after its economic future and the resources it uses. To achieve this, sustainability must become a genuine ethical underpinning of the industry and a core value against which all decisions are tested.   

Pre-COVID-19, rapid growth in visitor numbers was a boon to the industry, generating many business and employment opportunities, as well as benefitting the New Zealand economy and communities across the country.

But it also meant the tourism industry was facing the challenges of managing and sustaining growth, rather than generating growth. We need to manage our affairs to ensure tourism’s actual and reputational standing is maintained and enhanced, while we continue to deliver a consistently outstanding visitor experience.

Q: Who developed it?

The TSC was developed by industry for industry. Tourism Industry Aotearoa led the project with the support of an external Reference Group with representatives from Air New Zealand, the Department of Conservation, Discover Wanaka, Griffith University, Tourism Holdings Ltd, Tourism New Zealand, Real Journeys, Whale Watch Kaikoura and Ziptrek Ecotours.

The project team also talked with a range of other stakeholders and achieved wider industry input through consultation and workshops.

The Commitment was launched at TIA’s Tourism Summit Aotearoa in November 2017. Around 40 supporters had signed up to the Commitment prior to launch day.

Q: What changed with the TSC in 2020?

In 2020 we decided to make a few changes to strengthen and streamline the TSC. We kept the Vision, Values and four elements of Economic, Community, Visitor and Environment, but reduced the number of Commitments to 12. We are being clearer on what businesses should do for each Commitment to make it more straightforward to take the actions we need to across the industry.    

Q: Why has TIA made the TSC a standard part of TIA membership?  

Our industry strategy Tourism 2025 & Beyond – Sustainable Growth Framework has sustainability at its heart, and the TSC is the programme to drive towards our Vision of leading the world in sustainable tourism’. 

With the very high level of support for the TSC that’s been evident so far, it is a small step to embed the TSC right across the wider TIA membership. The benefits of this are twofold: Ware taking an industry-wide approach to sustainability, and we are giving every TIA member access to the full support of the TSC programme, to enable them to make changes at an individual business level.   

Q: Can non-TIA members sign up to the TSC? 

If you’re not a TIA member, you can still be a supporter of the TSC and you will be able to receive sustainability-related information, but not all the TIA member benefits.   

Notewe are always happy to welcome new TIA members and you can click here for the latest information about TIA membership. 

Q: Why did you remove the Education commitment? 

The Education Commitment was removed in the 2020 refresh and was embedded as part of the overall ethos of the TSC. We now have a section called ‘What’s involved’, with one of the five points being that TSC supporters commit to: ‘Telling communities and visitors about our sustainability journey.’   

The other points are to commit to having a sustainability plan, make measurable progress, embed sustainability into your business systems and provide an annual update on progress.     

Q: When people and jobs are so important to our industry, why is there only one Commitment that focuses on employment (when there used to be two)? 

The new Employer of Choice Commitment covers everything to do with our industry’s workforce – including pay and conditions, training and development, employing New Zealanders where they are available, and celebrating inclusion and diversity. Our aim is to position tourism as a desirable career choice and so we are asking TSC supporters to step up to make this happen in the only practical way we can: by being great employers.

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Getting involved

How to sign up, who can sign up and what's in it for businesses.

Q: What do I sign up to?

When your business signs up to the Tourism Sustainability Commitment you will:

You will also commit to:

  • Having a sustainability plan with goals for all 12 Commitments
  • Making measurable progress towards the goals
  • Embedding sustainability into business systems, processes and plans
  • Providing an annual update on progress
  • Telling communities and visitors about your sustainability efforts.
Q: What do I receive?

You will receive a Tourism Sustainability Commitment logo to publish on your website, a certificate to display in your premises and a copy of the TSC summary

Q: What’s in it for my business?

Sustainability provides numerous opportunities to grow the value of tourism businesses and the wider industry. A well-managed, welcoming, innovative and sustainable business has greater appeal to customers, who are increasingly demanding that businesses share and live their values. If you can’t demonstrate what you are doing in this space, you may lose business.

Q: Who can sign up?

Any New Zealand tourism business or organisation can sign up to the Commitment. There is also an opportunity for organisations and businesses outside tourism to come on board as endorsers. If you are a TIA member, supporting the TSC is part of your membership. For more information email info@tia.org.nz.

Q: How do I sign up?

It’s quick and simple - use the online form or email TIA.  

Q: Is there a cost?

There is no cost to be part of the Tourism Sustainability Commitment.

Q: Where can I find more information?

Have a look around this website, which details the Commitments. The Tools pages have information and resources to help you achieve the Commitments, and the News pages contain examples and inspiration.

If you’d like to discuss the Tourism Sustainability Commitment or have any queries that aren’t covered here, please email info@tia.org.nz.

Q: Who has signed up?

Find out who has signed up to the Commitment.

Q: What if I can’t meet all of the Commitments straight away? 

Committing to the TSC is a journey. Everyone needs to start somewhere, and the TSC welcomes the participation of businesses that are just getting started.   

Few businesses will meet every Commitment right away, but all can make a start, set targets and lay the foundations for further progress. The refreshed TSC sets out objectives for each Commitment, and these flow from relatively easy-to-achieve to more advanced. You will find advice on where to start on our website.

Q: I’m a small business and struggle to find time just to do the basics of running a business, let alone this.   

The TSC is about taking a whole-of-industry approach and is especially conscious of the many small businesses that make up our industry. We know that many small businesses have staff members covering multiple roles and it may be challenging to allocate time to work on sustainabilityThe TSC is set up to provide businesses with support and guidance to make at least some sustainability actions easy and achievable, and we are continually developing more resources. We also encourage collaboration within regions and sector groups, to tackle some of the Commitments together. 

We also have two Sustainability Advocates who are available to support you. The important thing is for every business to be taking action towards sustainability. It all makes a difference. And many, if not all of the actions make good business sense, resulting in cost savings and more efficiently run businesses. 

Q: I’m already way beyond this. I’ve been certified by XYZ as a sustainable business for years. This is too basic for my business, why would I sign up? 

The idea is to have every tourism business to be involved in the TSC, even if you are already well underway on your sustainability journeyThe TSC creates a community for sharing knowledge and learning from others, so it is particularly important to have our pathfinders who can act as shining examples and provide inspiration and support to the rest of the industry. So please join us! 

Q: What if my business is already accredited with another system? 

There are many systems and programmes that can be used to help businesses to become sustainable. Programmes like Future-Fit, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and Qualmark all have important roles to play. We see the TSC as the overarching platform for tourism sustainability and we actively seek to ‘sign-post’ TSC supporters to other service providers or expertise so those that wish to can benefit from these programmes through independent assessment, certification, and the like. Being well linked to these programmes assists the TSC in its quest for overall industry sustainability.      

Q: Are we expected to be paying all staff the Living Wage? 

The objective is for tourism businesses to meet or exceed the market for pay and conditions so we attract and retain the talent we need, including paying a fair wage or salary to staff at all levels of the business.  

A good step towards this is to move towards paying at least the Living Wage to all staff. While this doesn’t have to happen immediately, businesses can and should be factoring this into their planning.   

Of note also is that this Commitment is really about making sure that you can attract the staff you need, right across the pay-rate and salary. 

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Measuring progress and success

How we record industry progress and identify gaps.

Q: How do you measure industry progress?

At the launch of the TSC a measurement system was put in place and as of 2019 we had three annual data points which were indicating an uplift in industry performance.

However, given the massive disruption from COVID-19, most of these indicators have been affected. As such, we are moving to a two-tier measurement approach:

  • to use available and independent data series to track such things as visitor spend, tourism carbon emissions, community sentiment and visitor satisfaction, and
  • to develop a system where all TSC businesses provide an annual update (via a survey) of their TSC activity.

Together, this approach is expected to provide a solid record of industry sustainability progress and also identify any gaps where we need to provide extra support.

Q: What does ‘provide an annual progress update’ mean? What are the reporting requirements? 

We are still working through this, but the plan is to have an annual return asking all TSC supporters about what they are doing and what they achieved over the past year. This annual return will provide more accountability than the previous survey. All data will be confidential and only aggregate results will be reported.

This will not be an onerous process and the information will be hugely valuable for measuring the overall progress of our industry and for helping to identify those areas where more information, guidance, tools, support or linkages are needed.  

Q: What happens if my business doesn’t make progress? 

Tackling the TSC Commitments is not an easy task for every business, and you may not necessarily makmeasurable progress straightaway. Our tools, resources and support are there to enable every business to make some progress and if you still feel you can’t, we encourage you to talk to our Sustainability Advocates. The hardest part is getting started. 

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National and global implications

How the TSC aligns with other policies and strategies.

Q: Does the TSC have support from Government? 

Sustainability is the heart of both the industry strategy - Tourism 2025 & Beyond - and the Government’s New Zealand-Aotearoa Government Tourism Strategy. Government agencies have been involved in the TSC from its development to where we are now. Increasingly, we see the TSC as the sustainability platform for achieving the objectives of both industry and government.  

Q: How does the TSC relate to the Government’s Wellbeing Framework and its Four Capitals? 

The Four Capitals (Natural, Human, Social and Financial/Physical) create a balanced set of expectations and indicators for assessing the progress of our society. The TSC with its four elements (Economic, Community, Environment and Visitor) aligns wellwith the addition that the TSC has an important focus on the visitor as a key component of the industry. By embracing the TSC, we can ensure that our tourism industry benefits New Zealand’s environment, society, communities and economy. 

Q: How does the TSC relate to the UN Sustainable Development Goals? 

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals formed the starting point for the TSC, which evolved to meet the characteristics of the New Zealand tourism industry. While we had to adapt quite a lot to be useful for our tourism industry here in Aotearoa, we sought to carry the spirit of the SDGs into the TSC.  

In fact, the TSC was informed and inspired by a very wide range of international sustainability programmes, including UNWTO, WTTC, PATA, Earth Check, and many more. We were able to select the best from these approaches to establish a practical and relevant TSC for the New Zealand tourism industry.     

Q: Who else is interested in a sustainable tourism industry?    

Sustainable tourism is important to our industry, our economy and our communities. Our industry relies on our natural environment and welcoming, friendly people. A sustainable tourism industry generates great jobs, enhances the environment and responsibly addresses issues as they arise. That makes for a pretty big constituency of interested parties. Top of this list are our communities who actually host our visitors. Also, our visitors have expectations that our industry is  acting sustainably and there is considerable risk if we don’t deliver to this expectation. 

Q: What mechanisms are there to facilitate knowledge sharing and collaboration across the industry? 

We strongly feel that sustainability can be best achieved if it is a shared journey, with ample opportunity to learn together, share information and be part of a community.  

The TSC website is the ‘home base’ for the programme, with information, tools, resources and informationWe have an ongoing webinar series and regular online discussionwhere TSC supporters can get together to discuss topics of interest and to learn from each other.   

Our team can assist to facilitate groups of businesses in the same region or sector to work together on sustainability ideas and challenges. 

We also have a TSC Facebook page which is a forum for sharing information, ideas and stories. 

There are also Green Drinks functions around the country that tourism operators can attend to connect in with others in their own communities. 

We encourage all TSC supporters to get involved as and when they can. Contact us to discuss how we can connect you with networks in your area.