"We have already assessed more than 300 businesses and the first awards and reports are being distributed. Initial results indicate around 55 percent of businesses have achieved a bronze award, 36 percent silver and eight percent gold," says Qualmark General Manager Cameron Lawrence.
"The new criteria has been developed to take a more rounded view of what a quality tourism business looks like, with particular focus on protecting New Zealand’s key drivers of preference, which include our spectacular landscapes and scenery, our warm and welcoming people and the ability to safely explore and participate in our unique experiences."
During the live trial, all businesses have been assessed on their performance against four key categories:
- Economic - covering aspects such as marketing plans, operation manuals, reservation and
- payment systems.
- Environment – including how a business monitors and manages their resource usage and waste,
- and their investment and enhancement of the surrounding environment.
- Social/People – looking at aspects such as community/industry engagement, recruitment/staff
- training and customer service standards.
- Health and Safety – including core health and safety documentation and how this is embedded
- in the culture of a business.
"As someone who takes a close interest in what people are saying about our industry, I believe our new criteria supports many of the challenges our industry is facing, whether this be the impact tourism has on the environment, how we can maintain the support of New Zealanders as visitor numbers grow or the difficulty to attract and hold onto talented and skilled people."
The bronze, silver and gold awards are designed to recognise those businesses that are operating at sustainable best practice levels and to give our industry a clear pathway of improvement for sustainable growth.
"The live trial has highlighted some of the amazing work New Zealand tourism businesses are doing to tackle many of these challenges head-on."
"The trial has also highlighted some challenges for us and we are taking this feedback on board. We have received a mixed reaction to our proposed new logos, in particular around the inclusion or exclusion of categories for accommodation providers. So we will conduct some consumer research and share the results to inform any further decisions we make."
"We also have more work to do to ensure our customers have all the information needed to understand what the Qualmark transition means for their business and how they should best be prepared for an evaluation. We will be increasing our communications, and we have changed how we interact with our customers to provide greater access to our tourism business advisors."
"All our customers will be assessed under the new criteria by October 2017 and we look forward to their continued feedback on how a refreshed Qualmark assessment can help improve tourism businesses, attract more customers and support our industry as a whole. All feedback will be taken into consideration when we conduct a full review of our changes later in the year."
"Finally, research tells us that consumers highly value independent accreditation marks so while we have some challenges, we know that there is real value in what we are doing."
In a TNS survey conducted last year, 68 percent of Australians, 86 percent of Chinese, and 69 percent of American active considerers rated 7 or above out of 10, when asked the likelihood of using an accreditation mark if looking for a provider with sustainable practices.