Qualmark gets rub of the green

In an attempt to court increasingly environmental tourists – and reward environmentally-minded accommodation providers – AA Guides and Qualmark this week released a travel guide listing only businesses that meet both Qualmark quality and environmental criteria.

While the AA Qualmark Travel Guide 2010 is the second edition printed, the free guide book now includes Enviro Award logos next to businesses that are annually assessed as top performers in environmental practices.

Qualmark chief executive Geoff Penrose says it’s the first guide book to provide assurance that tourism businesses are meeting both quality and environmental standards.

“When we visit businesses, we look at their environmental practices as part of the comprehensive, on-site quality assessment. They must meet the standards before they can carry our official quality mark and over 400 Enviro Award logos, now found throughout the book, recognise excellence in this area,” he says.

The scheme, referred to as Qualmark Green, was unveiled to the tourism industry in May 2008 and provides guidance for travellers wishing to limit the environmental impact of their trip. It’s also a valuable marketing tool for tourism businesses committed to caring for the environment, he says.

AA Tourism chief executive Peter Blackwell says the second edition of the guide book, which is now available free from i-SITES throughout the country, should appeal to increasingly environmentally conscious visitors (and probably plenty of Kiwis too).

“This book is unique within the range of information we provide and a useful tool for travelling with both quality and the environment in mind,” he says.

The introduction of the Responsible Tourism criteria in 2008 marked a ‘world first’, with New Zealand being the first country to have a fully integrated quality and environmental performance tourism assurance system. Since then, the environmental performance of all tourism businesses with a Qualmark has been assessed under Responsible Tourism Operations criteria as part of on-site quality assessments. Businesses performing well in reducing environmental impact in five key action areas (energy efficiency, waste management, water conservation, community activities and conservation initiatives) are eligible to apply for an Enviro-Gold, Enviro-Silver or Enviro-Bronze Award.

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