The Coastal Bay of Plenty is the first of New Zealand’s regions to be named in the Green Destinations’ Top 100 Sustainable Destination list, one of the first steps in the region’s journey towards becoming a Certified ECO Destination, through Ecotourism Australia.
Tourism Bay of Plenty applied for the award to recognise the region’s aspiration for a regenerative tourism industry and to become a destination of choice for eco-travellers. The list highlights visitor destinations that are making progress to become more sustainable.
“Winning this award and beginning our application to become an eco-certified destination has put us on the ecotourism map. We’re proud to be recognised for something we’re really passionate about, which is regenerative tourism,” said Tourism Bay of Plenty Head of Destination Marketing Kath Low.
The Sustainable Top 100 list was created to showcase sustainable tourism stories and good practices of destinations as inspiring examples to others, to tour operators and to travellers. The application needed to highlight an area or issue from the region that had been resolved with good sustainability management practices.
Tourism Bay of Plenty’s application focused on nature and ecotourism alongside the development and implementation of its ambitious destination management plan, Te Hā Tāpoi | The Love of Tourism. The plan communicates the Coastal Bay of Plenty’s ambitious aspiration to develop a flourishing tourism industry while balancing the needs of the community and the environment.
“Our vision is to make the region a better place over time. Te Moananui ā Toi, the Coastal Bay of Plenty, being named in the Top 100 is proof that we’re making progress towards this ambitious vision,” said Low.
The award ceremony, which had originally been planned to be hosted in Bodrum, Turkey, but was cancelled due to COVID-19, took place at the first ever online Global Green Destinations Days 2020 event.
In 2018, Tourism Bay of Plenty embarked on a journey to discover what made the region unique as a destination through a process called Place DNA®. This process was broader than tourism and included the environment and conservation. The results found that the natural environment was one of the core elements that the community felt made the region unique, and that there is a strong desire to protect it.
Tourism Bay of Plenty discovered the value in the internationally recognised ECO Destination Certification programme which combines Ecotourism Australia’s ecotourism criteria with the Green Destinations Standard for sustainable tourism. Tourism Bay of Plenty is now applying for certification as an ECO Destination.
“This certification will help us effectively promote our region to the increasing proportion of travellers who are hungry for sustainable travel experiences. It’s the stamp of approval that we are who we say we are – an authentic destination for environmentally aware visitors,” said Low.
The 2020 Top 100 list is available on the Green Destinations website and the Coastal Bay of Plenty is also featured in the Good Travel Guide, a guide designed for eco conscious travellers.
This story is part of TIA's #TourismChampions campaign. View more inspirational stories here.