Research commissioned by Auckland Airport has proposed a new framework for New Zealand to measure both the growth and sustainability of the tourism industry.
Tourism is New Zealand’s largest export earning industry in terms of foreign currency earnings. The NZ$39bn (US$26bn) industry makes a direct contribution to GDP of approximately NZ$16bn (US$11bn) and employs at least 8% of New Zealand’s workforce.
“We know tourism brings enormous benefits to New Zealand, but our industry needs to manage its impact on our communities and the environment,” said Adrian Littlewood, Auckland Airport’s chief executive.
“If growth and sustainability don’t go hand in hand, and New Zealanders don’t understand the benefits tourism brings, we risk losing the support of local communities and undermining the experience of our visitors.”
The research, carried out by economists Shamubeel Eaqub and Dr Kirdan Lees at consultancy Sense Partners, has proposed a new framework called the Sustainable Tourism Growth Monitor (STGM), helping the industry to measure the impact of tourism on a range of factors including infrastructure, congestion, the environment and community wellbeing.
“The framework Sense Partners has developed sets out a broad approach for measuring performance, but it shows that while some tourism data is of high quality and coverage, there are too many gaps to know confidently how we are really performing,” continued Littlewood.
“We think there is an opportunity for the tourism industry and local and central governments to work together to build a robust framework to monitor growth and sustainability into the future.”
The framework was launched at the seventh annual New Zealand Tourism Forum, hosted by Auckland Airport, which brings together members of the tourism industry to share new market research and updates on aviation and overseas markets.
“We want New Zealand to be a high-performing and sustainable tourism destination,” said Littlewood. “Auckland Airport is playing its part, building an airport of the future as part of a multi-billion-dollar investment program that will benefit New Zealand for generations to come.”
International tourism expert Doug Lansky said the sustainability of tourism was a growing issue around the world, and countries like New Zealand needed to act now to protect the quality and sustainability of their tourism markets.
“It’s great to see Auckland Airport carrying out research in this area, in order to start a greater conversation about achieving sustainable destination management. It is important to re-define what success in tourism is. It has to be more than money – it also needs to be good for the locals and respectful of the environment,” he said.