In an ideal world businesses would have a holistic view of their place in the world. They would care not only about the revenue they can generate, but also about the people they call stakeholders and the environment they operate within. These days it can be hard to find businesses that operate in such fashion, with profit commonly taking the pedestal over other facets of operation. Fortunately, a couple of weeks ago, we at Breadcrumbs had the pleasure of sponsoring a conference where we can confidently say every person in the room took this holistic approach to their place in industry. The conference; BYATA (Backpacker Youth Adventure Travel Association). The Industry; Tourism. We thought we would write a wee piece about why the Tourism industry in NZ is setting a stellar example of how a 21st century country should operate!
Holistic? What are you – a Hippie?
If the definition of a “hippie” is someone that cares about people and the environment alongside profit then sh*t yes we are hippies – and so are most NZ Tourism operators. So what does this holistic approach to business actually mean? Why are we writing an article about it? Well as the impact of human economic activity becomes more and more apparent, it becomes more and more important to adhere to practices that reduce impact. Taking a holistic approach to business operations simply means setting goals to strive towards reducing your impact, and increasing your efforts towards community and environmental initiatives. This could mean offsetting your carbon emissions by investing in emission trading schemes, providing scholarship or pathway programs to your local community or even something as simple as committing to using re-fillable soap and shampoo bottles at your hotel like the Sudima Hotel chain has. It doesn’t mean you have to put a flower in your hair, preach for peace or smoke a J. Essentially, each little thing that you can do adds up – so start by doing something small and increase your efforts with each change you make!
TIA (Tourism Industry Aotearoa) has put in place the Tourism Sustainability Commitment, which allows businesses to sign up and adopt 14 Business Commitments. These commitments cover the four key areas of sustainability from the perspective of tourism; Economic, Visitor, Host Community, and Environment. Breadcrumbs has signed on to this commitment and while we may be early stages now, we plan to grow to fit the mould that the commitment outlines. So, we understand what sustainability is and how we can take a holistic approach to our business – but why should we?
Our reputation is at stake.
100% pure. The message that we push to just about every inbound visitor to New Zealand (that our country is untouched, uninterrupted and unspoiled by man). This message is a bit of a yarn really isn’t it? I mean yeah, Milford Sound is pretty slick and almost ¼ of the country is actually indigenous native forest so we are pretty bloody good on that front. But as Kiwi’s we witness day in and day out the conversation surrounding the quality of our waterways, the conversion of native land for dairying, the rapidly diminishing native birdlife populations. We won’t go into any of these discussions because that could lead to a 10 page blog article. What we will say however, is that following the BYATA conference, we genuinely believe that there are some people out there who want to earn that 100% pure title. Unfortunately we can’t just blindfold tourists as they move from idyllic campsite to clean, green tourism activities. For this message to stay relevant, the country as a whole needs to adopt the aforementioned principles. The tourism industry is setting the example, it’s time for everyone else to show they care too! Our pure image effects more than just those in the tourism industry too! The perception of NZ’s produce as being clean, green and pure is one of our major selling points as a high value export provider internationally. If images or perceptions of our lack of purity spread to become common rhetoric – the value of our export portfolio decreases. Our reputation as clean and pure is 100% important to our economy.
Tourism the way forward for NZ
But Sh*t Breadcrumbs, it ain’t all about Tourism? We can’t run the country solely on Tourism earnings can we?
Well, no. Unfortunately we can’t all earn a living by jumping off bridges or rafting through a cave (it’d be good though right?). We as a country, quite simply rely on our vast agriculture & forestry exports to provide a secure, steady source of revenue. But we aren’t suggesting deleting all other sources of revenue in favor of tourism – rather we are suggesting that New Zealand’s other industries should start looking at how they can work with tourism. There is inherent value to be gained across the board if NZ’s tourism industry continues to grow at it’s current rate. For example, with increasing attention placed on our lack of infrastructure for freedom campers, and constant reports of falling milk solids payouts – would it not make sense to link agriculture with tourism and pose that farmers can bring in revenue by hosting tourists? Tourists receive a unique experience and are exposed to some good old kiwi hospitality, while farmers cash in on an untapped source of revenue. Makes perfect bloody sense to us! It goes without saying that where tourism goes, money follows – it seems that if we as a country in general can support sustainable growth of tourism then we as a country will see opportunities to generate revenue spring up left, right and center! Rather than thinking of it as everything taking a back seat to tourism – think of it as tourism bringing other industries along for the ride.
So you know where we stand on things. We at Breadcrumbs believe there is value in operating holistically. There is value in steering your business towards sustainability. There is no room in today’s society for businesses that aren’t thinking about the environment they operate in. We believe after witnessing the collective drive for sustainability at the BYATA conference, that the Tourism industry in NZ is leading the way forward. That tourism can continue to grow, and that growth has indirect benefits and presents valuable opportunities to those whose focus is not actually on tourism. Basically, we wrote this piece to let y’all know about the mindset of the impressive people within our tourism industry. Hopefully you’ll be encouraged to do some exploring of your own backyard this summer. Hopefully you will get the chance to see how our tourism operators are doing everything they can to provide long-term value. And then hopefully you’ll Drop A Crumb to share your experiences 😉
Tourism Industry FTW