The two companies will assess the potential for the New Zealand tourism industry to better align itself with the country's positioning as a destination with beautiful landscapes and scenery, by achieving a higher standard of sustainability.
The selection panel included representatives from Tourism New Zealand, AA Travel, Qualmark, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, and the Tourism Industry Association. Fourteen proposals were assessed by the panel.
Tourism New Zealand's Chief Executive Kevin Bowler says, "We're pleased to jointly appoint TRC Tourism and Sustainable Travel International who bring both international experience and comprehensive knowledge of the New Zealand tourism landscape to lead an investigation into global sustainability practices.
"There is no doubt that New Zealand's landscape and scenery are key to the decision to visit here in the minds of international travellers, and this is inextricably linked to our environmental reputation.
International tourism is New Zealand's second largest earner of foreign exchange, contributing NZD 9.8 billion to the nation's economy for the year to March 2013. In a fiercely contestable tourism marketplace Tourism New Zealand has responsibility for ensuring New Zealand remains attractive as a visitor destination.
"As we strive to enhance New Zealand's offering and become more globally competitive as a place to visit, the industry has an ongoing role to play in contributing to New Zealand's reputation around sustainability.
Qualmark currently provides recognition for positive environmental business practices through its evidence-based Enviro Award accreditation, with 950 Enviro Awarded licensees in New Zealand. A key finding of a review commissioned by Qualmark in December 2013 was that the accreditation is an audit of systems rather than an outcomes measurement and benchmarking approach.
"One of the things we're looking to test is whether integrating a sustainability programme with Qualmark Enviro would be an effective way to assist businesses to achieve higher standards of sustainability."
Ross Corbett, Director of TRC Tourism says, "We are delighted to have been selected to work with Tourism New Zealand on this forward looking assessment of how to maximise the sustainability gains for the New Zealand tourism industry."
The research is expected to be completed by December.