Lifting the lid on Sustainability in Tourism
Kiora Welcome to another episode where we share relevant content to help tourism and hospitality businesses thrive. Join us each week as we share insights and hear from industry specialists. We hope you enjoy this week's episode. And to stay up to date. Why don't you click the subscribe button to get notified when a new video drops? Now we welcome you to sit back and enjoy this week's episode. Hello, and welcome back. Now I have a question to ask you. If you've got a tourism business, have you ever considered what it will take to be sustainable? Now I know I struggle with this concept. And it is a hot topic at the moment. We're really having to change the way that we do business and sustainability protecting our environment. And you know, leaving our planet in a better place is really, really important. But how do we apply that to our own business? Now here on the top of the South, we are about to launch a top of the South sustainability workshop starting next week. And I thought it was a perfect opportunity to bring the two presenters that will be touring the top of the staff to present today so that you can get a little bit of a head start and if you happen to be in the region could actually come and join us. So I'm excited to welcome Megan and gazer to the floor today. Hey, guys, how are you? Hi, Kate. Thank you. Yeah, thanks, man. Good. Luck. And in the spirit of sustainability. And this topic, it's great that we can do this virtually. Yeah, very good. Low carb. Yeah. Thank you. Low Carbon footprint. Yeah. Look, I'm going to confess I really struggle with this topic. It is something that we're hearing more and more about. And you are both sustainability advocates for Tia. And, you know, that just says something to us that there is a need to be having these conversations. But before we talk about sustainability, and before i i guess confess how much? I don't know. Do you want to just tell me a little bit about T eyes role in the tourism industry for those that may be watching? Sure, I can handle that. So Tia tourism industry altaira. It's an industry association. So we're not government funded at all. We are the industry voice for tourism. So for all of those 1000s of mum and dad operators out there around the country right through to the large operators like THL like in New Zealand, like our airports. So every all of those businesses in between we are the industry voice. So we take industry issues, and we advocate for or any kind of problems or niggles that people have got we take those to government and try and sort them out on behalf of industry. So great.
So we are imperfect hands right now because we're going to be troubleshooting, potentially my business's sustainability goals, but no really just starting to understand a little bit more about what it it means to a tourism business to, I guess, follow a path of making change, essentially. So let's talk about sustainability and businesses. So I guess the question is, why should a tourism business be thinking about sustainability? But Christian, I think, what does it mean to be sustainable when people often think about the environment straightaway, and so I think what's quite important to understand is Tia developed a tourism sustainability commitment several years ago, and that has economic sustainability. You know, if you're not economically sustainable, you can't do any of the other good stuff. So its economic sustainability, looking after our visitors having visited sustainability, also community sustainability, you might remain the pre COVID Or sometimes sort of push back against too much tourism, how do we make our locals love our tourism businesses and include them and involve them in it. And of course, environmental sustainability as well. So it covers all four facets. It's not just environmental sustainability. And if we want to be here for the long haul, we need to tick all four boxes. And so that the TSA that we developed in 2017 Is it was made. It's a free programme. That's the tourism sustainability commitment, a free programme so that all businesses could follow a framework so that they could know what to do, how to do all of the big things that people go, oh gosh, I don't know how to do that. It's all broken down. And there are templates and tools and case studies that people can learn from on that website. So that's sustainable tourism.nz. So it's a free programme to sign up. too. So that's that's why Tia developed that programme so that businesses had a place to go to, they didn't need to pay for it. You could just go on there, learn what to do, see what's relevant for your own situation, and then start making little changes, little actions, because lots of little things change over time. I love it. Now, one thing we will do is we will pop the link into the chat for people to have a look at in their own time. And I love that it's free. But I'm going to play devil's advocate here, but as a business, is it free? Like, we think when we think about making change, we think about, about costs. And, you know, we know that sometimes now I'm going to take for example, and this is again, where you're going to shoot me down, and no, not shoot me down. But just know my limitations. When I think about a organic food, right? It's more expensive. When we think about doing something that's for the environment, I'm going to put it in the organic category, if there's a cost, so how do we talk about the, you know, changing our mindset so that it's, it doesn't feel like you know, we're doing good, but is there a way we can do it without spending money?
Well, I'll give it a start making the jump, and here are some steps that you can take, which won't cost you money. And so sometimes, especially at the moment, you look for quick wins. And that's what we can win these workshops we would be working through what are some of the easy little steps you can take, but still keeping in mind the long term and what are some of the bigger, longer term plans that you can work towards? But I think the bigger picture is to think what's the cost of not doing this? If you don't make your business sustainable? Where will you be in five years time? And so it's really, that there will be trade offs and working out where you invest your money, and there will be some costs, but also some savings? But yes, it's balancing. What what would be an example of something that a business could do as a first step? So yeah, this is sorry, you can't change your life. Okay. Yeah. So a good example of something that people can do is a good first step that's that's free is to start measuring your impacts. So you can you can measure your carbon footprint, you can measure what you give back to a community or what you can make to the environment. So we've had this kind of focus for a couple of 100 years on economics, and how much value your GDP What what are you making financially in your business, but we don't look at other things, we don't value other measurements. And it's time that we all start measuring things and to be able to manage something or improve it, you first got to start measuring it. So we encourage people to start spreadsheets for other things and their business. And we know that most if not all little businesses in New Zealand are giving back to the community. They're on the school board, they're giving vouchers to this and for raffle tickets for that, and they're volunteering here, there and everywhere. But they're not measuring that. That stuff that they're giving back to the communities. So a really good start, which is completely free is to write that stuff down. What do you do annually? And then that's something you know, you can demonstrate, this is what I actually get back to my community, annually, you might choose to do that. And hours, you might choose to just do it and what what you do. So that's something that's really important to start measuring non financial metrics. And I like that, because that's really easy that that actually makes it's actually a reminder of, you know, the, the good that you do in your community as well. Yeah. All right, when you've got that information at your fingertips, you can share those stories so much better with your local, but then also worth your visitors so that they understand that you are more than just what they see in the tourism business, but you have a much broader impact on your community in your environment and sharing those stories if that's true social channels or when you're on a giving a tour and you slip these stories into your conversations. That's something that consumers are getting more and more and more interested in and really knowing what's the impact of all this activity that's going on and being able to share that it's really powerful. Yeah, and in this day and age, also supporting local businesses. So you know, if you're, if you're your business you need you've got us bit of supply chain so you're a bed and breakfast or something so that you you're telling the stories that I made this gem I bought, you know, I'm buying this breed from the local, you know, the lady who makes breed three times a week down the road. So you're telling that you're supporting local, and then you're telling that story that, you know, because it's actually investing back in your community. So people will already be doing it, but they're not thinking of it as a community sustainability initiative, or, you know, supporting them.
And I am, and I guess I'm, I'm besides the fact that someone's obviously had an accident in Wellington. It's not something that would has dawned on me as the community aspect. When we think of when you say the word sustainability. I mean, it just doesn't, it doesn't. When we when we talk about sustainability, you know, generically over the years, it's been economic, environmental, and social. But when we looked at putting the TSA together, we looked at the sustainable development goals. So that's the UN's ones, that, you know, are quite International. But we looked at, and we, we made it specific for New Zealand, our sustainability commitment, and we also made it specific for tourism. So by doing that, we split the social kind of goals into visitor ones and community ones in so it's easy to see really, that's really important, because we want to be looking after our visitors. But we also want to look after our communities. And we want our communities to love visitors coming to our regions. And as we know, pre COVID, there was some regions that didn't love some things so much, you know, that were bottlenecks and some places in so that's, that's a sure sign of some things in the tourism system not being well connected with community. So we need to really be mindful that as a tourism business, we rely on those communities, we rely on the manaakitanga of, you know, the hospitality and the warmth from our locals. So we need that that's part of being a sustainable business, making sure our community is happy with our business and what we're bringing. Yeah, totally in right now, with COVID in whether we like it or not, it created that reset button, essentially. So we've now got a clean a clean site. And I think Gisele you indicated the fact that we've got these, if we measure it, like Megan says we've got these stories to tell. And what we're learning about the new traveller is is they want authenticity, they want to know what's going on and, and they want to feel that their money is not just coming in and going offshore, it's not being used and abused, it's actually providing real value to the community. That's there's, there's lots of studies being done at the moment on travel trends and how that's changing. So consumer priorities are changing in general, and then around travel as well. And, you know, we're hearing more and more about that flight shaming, and you know, will Australian visitors even know that's a reasonable flight, but are Germans, British American visitors that have got a long haul flight. If they're going to make that flight, and they're environmentally conscious people, we want them to feel really good about the holiday in New Zealand. And we don't just want to greenwash it, we don't want to just put a plaster on top of we really want to have good authentic experiences here that make it worthwhile coming out, it's things change pretty quickly. Now, I have to ask the question, Can you define greenwash for me because it I actually, I had to look it up. So you're I know that you, you too, are just the brains of sustainability and the words that come out? What is green washing?
It's yeah, green washing is it if you try to think of a really good example, now I'm struggling but you know, if you is when you make something sound like it's environmentally good, when actually it's not. So you might get a coffee cup and a single use cup that says compostable on it. But then you just chuck it in landfill anyway. So it's not going to decompose and lean so you haven't put it in a proper composting bin. So although you kind of felt like you isn't using a single use compostable cat if you don't actually compost it, it's just a waste of time. And so that's kind of greenwashing. It's not really doing the right thing. So if you think God, I'm gonna ask you this. So do you feel that potentially that's what has been happening in our industry? Not just our industry, the whole of New Zealand, you know, every we're bringing, we're not bringing tourism New Zealand in. Okay, we're just not gonna talk about the pew. Yes, I think absolutely. You can see greenwash everywhere. You know, the health and beauty industry is one that you know, people don't even realise until you think about it, but you look at the products and the Superman Okay, the words they use on shampoos and you know, face products and it's all green, and then you read the products, they're not green products, but they're just capitalising on that word. So that's, you know, greenwash is happening everywhere. In the tourism industry. I've seen it where operators do say, Oh, we sustainable, we're doing it, but there's no demonstration of how they're sustainable. They're just using the words that they that people might be interested in. So it's really important that businesses are authentic, that they are, if they're talking about sustainability, and they want to do it that that the showing demonstrating what they're doing, not just talking about doing something. Do you think the consumer is getting smarter about it? Oh, yeah. Very, very much. So at New Zealand consumers are, and international consumers will be getting smarter, even faster. So hearing that?
Yeah, I do feel and please correct me if I'm wrong, I do feel that whilst we live in a beautiful place, we aren't necessarily the early adopters. And there's like, there's there's countries that are just so far advanced, and their thinking is so far advanced that by coming here, they'd probably feel that we are a little behind. On the years, I mean, Europeans have been recycling batteries for 30 years. And we still don't really use them, you can but not easily. You know, those who have travelled would have seen in supermarkets all through Europe, in different countries. So you can, you know, there's a place to put your used batteries. And, you know, so So, so we're way a long way behind on a lot of things. Recycling, you know, our recycling is gone backwards in the last three or four years in New Zealand. So that's why we've got to think about the whole cycle of waste and not rely on recycling because recycling is not the answer. Right? Recycling is an interim measure, we actually need to look at how can we use you offer our service our product without creating waste in the first place. So that's, we just need to shift our thinking. Now, I laugh about recycling, because before COVID, we were told that glass was going to be recycled here. And mogra, we were one of the test case cases for recycling glass. And we were going to get 10 cents a bottle. So I spent 12 years in South Australia and we'd get five sets of bottles. So I was like, whew, 10 cents a bottle. So as most people during lockdown, consumption was high, we threw nuts, we threw nothing out. So we threw absolutely nothing out. So there was quite a large amount of bottles by the it was a year we kept it for a year waiting for the council to tell us that they were going to reinstate this recycling initiative. And they never did. So we had to shamelessly take all their bottles to our recycling because we don't get it. We don't get it collected. But I want to flip that over in regards to a business here that actually crushes the glass down and puts it on their pavement. So that's like Merrill Lynch. So they have a process where they crush all the bottles down. And they use it as pavement.
Fantastic. Yeah, so taking the product, this sick circle, I mean, it comes from sand, so you take it back to sand. We also work with operators, you know, in larger kind of cafes or hotels where it's like actually do need so many bottles, or is it time to get wine and a cake and have a house wine. So that's another way that you can actually you know, if you've got a going through quite a quantity, probably not something to do at home to encourage having a cake of wine and a hospitality setting. You know, that's a really great way for them to maybe someone in Auckland right now could do with a cake. house wine. Yeah, so tell me as your role is as sustainability advocates, when what I mean how do you get involved with tourism businesses? Where do you step in? Do you guide them? Are you? Are you here to stand up for them around the sustainability? Where does it all fit in? We have got this framework in which we fall back on it, you know, that guides our work, but it's a whole journey. Nobody's got all the answers. Technology is changing fast, wasn't it? Just last week, there was an electric flight from Lynam to Wellington and then electric aircraft. Yes. Things are changing really, really fast. It's a journey. Everybody is on as every business in every individual is on this journey of how can we do it better. And this, this framework helps guide people but people in businesses will step in at different places of what's appropriate for them, where technology can help them at the moment or what they might have to wait for a year or two to actually become realistic and feasible. So, so it really is this journey. But what we're aware of is that, you know, cop 26 is happening in Glasgow at the moment, it's not that far down the track that the will become government regulations around things. That's especially clear around things like the carbon accounting that you'll have to do that alongside your GST return. And we try to help businesses get on top of things before regulations are imposed. So that you've, you've got a bit more control over how you get to that point. Yeah. Because the thing I guess the reality is, is that we haven't had to worry about it. So therefore, we haven't had to think and we've not had to do. And by not being in that position where it's not, I guess, I guess, what you're saying is there is that there's going to be a point where some of this measurement and understanding of our use is going to be pushed upon us, and we're going to get charged for it essentially, aren't we?
Absolutely in the carbon is for sure. I mean, you know, we've got the government, you know, they've got a mission for all of New Zealand to be carbon neutral by 2050, the public sector themselves, so all of the government departments in there, you know, the local dock office and in your region, they all need to be carbon neutral by 2025. So that's for it less than four years away. And so they are working fast to decarbonize. So you'll see more electric vehicles in the regions, as all of the government departments start driving around on electric vehicles, they're all looking at how they decrease their carbon. So that will affect a lot of our members that will affect if you currently have a small accommodation, or a large hotel or whatever, and you have government contracts where you have people come and stay in a few years, they're going to be preferring contracts or places that are already zero carbon, they're already working on that reducing their own carbon footprint, because that's going to then help the government's own accounting around carbon. So it's, it is going to be a whole lot of pressure come on different parts of business for us all to be starting to measure our carbon in reduce it and the different ways that we can that's applicable for our own business. Okay, so I just had a little mild panic attack, because 2025 is really not far away. So can I just pick the bones out of what what do we mean, by offsetting? What does that mean to a tourism operator? Okay, so there is confusion around offsetting, it doesn't have to be super complicated. But basically, it means you measure all your emissions, how much power you use, how much petrol you buy, how much waste you create. So that gets measured. And then you work to minimise that as much as you can. But if you're still in business, realistically, you will still hit, you won't be able to cut all your emissions out, there will be some lift. And they usually measured in tonnes of carbon, carbon tans. And so then you can offset those with another company. So you'll you'll get certified, you can do get a rough idea of your emissions through online calculators absolutely free. But to do it or properly, you would work with a company such as E commerce or Toyko. And they will help guide you through that to measure it accurately. And then what you can reduce totally cut out you offset by purchasing trees which absorb carbon, and so they can test so it's actually net zero, it's not that you're producing zero emissions, but net zero by the time you've invested in these trees. And And what's important is when you're doing this within certified forests through a company, the trees which would not have been planted had you not invested in them. Yeah, so it's extra trees on the planet. So and and so the two main companies that tourism operators use in New Zealand are toy two and e cos and they have some forests locally that you can then invest in and some further afield as well. But it sounds kind of complicated. It is more complicated than I'm making it but it's from businesses that have done it. They've all told me it was actually easier than they thought and less expensive than they had anticipated. That's a really clear message that I'm getting back. But for example, one of the businesses we've been working with here in Wellington, they thought it sounded scary, they didn't know understand it. They rang a cos they had someone help them and put all their information. They did it all in one and a half hours. Easy. Well it depends on the size of your business. So if your small business it is quite easy. And some of the other businesses we're working with have actually done free carbon calculators because they're not in a position at the moment to pay. So there is that option as well, you don't have to go out and purchase that service with someone, you can just use a free spreadsheet. And there are free spreadsheets on the tourism specific one, actually on the E cos website, ECOSYS. About ek O S, we'll make sure that gets put in the chat as well. Yeah, so they have a free tourism calculator, which is a light calculator. So you can just pop all of your information in and get an idea of what your carbon footprint is. And then you have an idea of what it would cost if you were to offset. And then of course, you have the, the fee for the for the organisation to help you. But it doesn't mean you need to jump straight into there's what I'm saying there, there are ways for you just to gently start on that journey. But if you're a small business, it doesn't cost much. And then you can have a badge of being you know, Net Zero, carbon free net zero if you if that's what you choose. And so I guess, when you were in your previous role, there was a real push around that that carbon neutral kind of travel between the two of you, what are you seeing? I mean, we know that there's going to be a push by government to move move this way. But what are you seeing from a consumer point of view? What are you hearing? And what can you What secrets Can you tell us to help us kind of pull their finger out and speed up this process? behaviour change is happening. I would say, like we talked about earlier that New Zealand's not the quickest off the map from a consumer perspective, but it is starting. But we want to be really, really welcoming to our international visitors. And I think fits where we will feel a strong consumer demand for this end, consumers asking about it more directly than a kiwi typically would. That's definitely what we're hearing how you've got things to add to it. Megan, that
just there was some booking.com research just a few months ago that indicated that consumers are going to be more concerned about sustainability in general, but carbon footprints, you know, is there's more and more research coming out like that. I think some regions and New Zealand are actually doing it from grassroots. So I live in Wanaka. And there's a real grass roots movement there. We just had the well summit a couple of weeks ago, which we talked about regenerative tourism for a whole day in there, you know, 100 people in each session and a whole lot online. Nelson, of course, has got the the carbon zero itinerary. We've got other regions that are also doing grassroots stuff in the space. And a lot of regional tourism organisations have put regenerative tourism, sustainable tourism into the destination management plans. So we're going to see more support from HR to. So it's it's not just government, I think it's happening from industry. And it's also happening from a grassroots space in communities. Yep. Yeah. And I guess the reason why we have introduced this to our region, and that's really part of destination mobile's you know, destination management plan, but also just the fact that we could see a gap in the knowledge, you know, I know, my knowledge is not strong. On the topic in how can we support those if we don't actually know enough ourselves? And, you know, as I've mentioned, to both of you separately, it's, we have to start the conversation. And we have to do it, we do have to change that that mindset, but we don't know what we don't know. And that's what we need to do. Yeah. Things are changing fast. We're all learning, you know, we're all on this journey to do things better. And so, yeah, there's no problem with admitting that you don't understand something or don't know about it, because we're all learning and things are changing really, really quickly. So if you no shame in it, not. Unless you're good. Like it doesn't have to be that you jump straight into measuring your cat might go in and just start with doing something really easy. I'm going to look at my rubbish bin and go, what's a different way of getting this? How can I support a local, someone down the road and get this wrapped in paper instead of plastic? Yeah, so it's just really small steps that you can make that make a difference. And then you do one thing that month and the next month you do another small step and small steps. If you do it consistently can actually add up to bigger change. So can I ask what would be something that is been a change in a business that has probably had the most impact like quarters, something that you've you've seen or heard or know of, through businesses that have made some changes, who I didn't prepare you for this one as an example, but the biggest business, and that's real New Zealand, or real journeys or the Wayfair. Group, whatever. Well,
it depends on when you checked in to change out, yes. Real New Zealand. So they, they, you know, they joined the TTC in 2017. And they have a supply chain manager, because, you know, they've got lots of parts of the business to buy for. So they do all the buying for all of the different products in the arrangements and things. And they just committed to look at how can they supply things differently? How can they reduce waste, and their businesses etc. So in this just that supply chain space, they have consistently done different things each month or every quarter over the last four years. And it's led to making a big difference. So to the point now, where on some of their products, so let's take the ski fields, triple cone and Cardrona this year, they see to the customers, okay, we're not having any rubbish bins, there is no rubbish on our mountain. Yes, so they've got to that point, which actually meant that they could not produce rubbish either. So it wasn't just putting the problem on the visitors to not bring stuff in the lunchboxes that was going to have to go on the rubbish bin. It was about them going, what do we have here? What do we supply our guests. So then they put pressure back on their suppliers, like the a cookie suppliers to come up with compostable packaging, to they got rid of plastic drink bottles, they have drink fountains, they have post SMEX for drinks. So they've got rid of all waste out of this system, by smart thinking over a period of time. So that's an example of an actually, they would say to me, they're not a big business, they're actually a whole lot of smaller businesses. And they've done things that anybody could do. That's really interesting. And that that's, I mean, that's a bold move, because remember, when when they came out with that, I thought, that's gonna be a good one, isn't it. But like you said, it's, it's obviously evolved over a long period of time. And as we were saying before, it's it obviously started with a small step. They got rid of plastic water bottles first, they said, This is ridiculous. And they had to I know, their, their account said, Oh, my gosh, but we make X number of dollars per annum by selling bottled water. And they said, We don't want to have to deal with we don't want to be creating, having all that plastic to deal with and get rid of. We're drinking fountains. And that means that they're going to have $5 in their pocket to spend on something else, it's up to us to create that something else that they want to buy, that doesn't create any waste. So quite a different way of thinking.
It is. And I think anyone that actually watches this to this point in our session, if you are a business and you could just stop using plastic water bottles, just as a small step, that would make a big difference, wouldn't it? And can I also say one thing that really gets my goat going is disposable masks. I would love to see more people with with masks that are reusable. Carpets brought in some really different challenges. And it's kind of pushed sustainability ability back down the agenda a little bit. It's you've got this, this urgent health situation and year it's really interesting to change the dynamics. But if we're keeping our eye on the long term, then the sustainability done tourism in a way that's really good for New Zealand in the long run. That's got to be a big goal, because it's not going to go away in a hurry. Yeah, no, it's not. Now we have we have pushed the time limit just a little bit further than what I would have liked it because you know, it always goes so quickly. And I've really enjoyed this conversation. I feel like I've only just kind of we've just opened a little door. It's just kind of like a little creek actually, it's probably more like a ambulance replace car going past it just kind of was really quick. So I'm really looking forward to what's going to roll out next week. So we've got our sustainability workshop starting off in Nelson on Monday, and then Margaret and dedeker and Hearn away, and one after the other. So if you are in any of those regions, these lovely ladies will be there available to ask any of your questions. I don't think any of them will be as ignorant as mine. So I challenge people to come and ask as many questions as possible. But what I love about this is the conversation itself. And and to both of you, we will no doubt see you again, in our region, but also here because I feel that this is just the beginning of a conversation and we have to keep talking. Because if we don't put it out there, it's like marketing. If we don't talk about it, we don't show what we do we, it just won't change. And we need everyone. We really need everyone to get on board, don't we? We don't. It's a kind of these issues that no one can solve them alone. And sometimes people get a bit overwhelmed thinking, what difference am I going to make? It's, but it's only through doing stuff together and getting the whole country going down. There was like good, I'd say saying a problem shared is a problem halved. So let's, let's, let's do it together.
And you're doing all the local solutions yourself, because someone else would have already researched it. So it's really important that we collaborate. Yeah, I'm so glad I've met you too, because I've got no idea. But so thank you very much for your time. And I'm happy to admit that I don't know something, especially when I've got good people like yourselves around to ask, so just makes it easy. I look forward to seeing you both in the region next next week. Thank you for your time. I know that you're both in Wellington at the moment. So you are both both busy. And I really, really appreciate it and I look forward to see what what grows from this first step that we're making the top of the south here, but to anyone that's watching. If you do love what we do, please like share or follow. dropping a comment. We love what we do because you love what we do. So thank you and one last time, Megan Giza thank you so much. And happy travels around the top of the South. Thank you. Okay, we'll see you later everyone. Bye. Okay, bye