Tourism activities or operations invariably impact the natural and social environment in which these are undertaken. Tourism is a thriving industry in the country of New Zealand, with several people coming from all over the world to this part of the globe to witness the country’s flora and fauna. The unique history and indigenous cultures of New Zealand also make it a major tourist attraction for travelers from different parts of the globe. While offering tourist packages comprising of sightseeing and adventurous physical activities is definitely a good way to get people to come and visit New Zealand as well as to give the people of the country the opportunity to explore their beautiful nation, it is imperative for such tourist activities to be carried out with sustainability goals in mind. Tourism will fail to serve any good purpose if it ends up harming the natural environment in some way or the other (Ruhanen et al., 2015). Tourism must take into account the preservation and conservation of the environment as one of its top most goals, if it wants to generate a positive impact rather than a negative one (Egdell, 2016). This report looks at the case of Tourism HQ, a well-known tourism operator in New Zealand, to identify the nature and impact of the business, identify changes affecting the business if any, and locate the socio-economic, cultural and environmental impacts of tourism. The report concludes with a number of recommendations as to how sustainability goals can be best accomplished by Tourism HQ when implementing its various travel related activities or agendas.
2. Nature of Change Affecting Tourism HQ and Associated Impacts
2.1. Nature of Change affecting the Operations of Tourism HQ
2.1.1. Rising Sea Levels Threaten Winter Sporting Activities
Tourism HQ in New Zealand is exposed to a number of direct as well as indirect impacts that are associated with climate change. For one, the slow and steady rise in sea-level and the increasing acidification of the oceans is something that has been threatening natural attractions and coastal tourism infrastructure in New Zealand for quite some time now, and Tourism HQ is therefore deeply impacted by such adverse changes in the climate. The rising temperatures are likely to shorten the winter sport seasons that Tourism HQ is so well-known for. People won’t be as willing to embark on such sessions as they had been before.
2.1.2. More Investment Needed in Resilient Tourism Infrastructure
The rise in temperature and the high rate of emissions that New Zealand is plagued by now is something that is compelling Tourism HQ to invest in more resilient infrastructure in order to keep tourists safe from harm when travel activities are in progress. It is also imperative to remember that while adaptation to climate change is something that Tourism HQ is capable of doing by investing more money for this purpose, the relief that can be provided in lieu of such a heavy investment in resilient infrastructure is only for the short term and not for the long term.
2.1.3. Avoidance of Water Sports by Health Conscious Travelers
Water sports conducted by Tourism HQ are something that tourists will not want to partake in as a result of the terrible impacts that are being generated by climate change. The acidic content that is so prevalent now in the oceans implies that people are likely to expose themselves to a number of health risks when they take part in water sports. The rivers of New Zealand are no less toxic than the oceans, and tourists can end up suffering from a wide range of skin ailments in addition to problems like nausea and shortness of breath if they choose to partake in water sports in such toxic environmental conditions.
2.1.4. Camping Trips and Outdoor Activities are Uncomfortable
The gradual rise in global warming implies that going trekking or embarking on camping trips in forested areas is something that is going to be perceived as greatly uncomfortable for travelers. They will not want to camp out in the wild outdoors as the outside temperature is not conducive for such activities for the most part of the year. Campers are likely to sweat quite profusely should they venture out on such hiking adventures and the entire trip undertaken will be one that is characterized by discomfort rather than ease. It will prove to be a bane for travelers, something that Tourism HQ does not desire at all.
2.1.5. Criticism from Environmental Conservationists
One of the gravest impacts that climate change in New Zealand has on the operations of Tourism HQ is the fact that its activities will keep away people who are concerned about the environment. This is because tourism companies like Tourism HQ are known to be fully responsible for a large percentage of green house gas emissions in the country, and are therefore looked upon with disdain now by environmental enthusiasts and conservationists. Tourism HQ is likely to lose out on a wide base of clients by virtue of the fact that it contributes to the greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for global warming.
3. General Impact of Tourism HQ Operations
3.1. Positive Economic Impact – Generates Employment
There are quite a few positive impacts associated with the operations of Tourism HQ. For one, its activities or operations have a positive economic impact in the sense that these manage to generate employment for people. Social stability, better services and employment are three of the positive outcomes associated with Tourism HQ operations. Those who have a love for all things related to travel and tourism can opt to work for such a tourism operators in New Zealand, enjoying good money in the bargain while doing what they love doing. Many people are able to earn a decent income and support themselves due to the employment opportunities made available by Tourism HQ ("TourismHQ - The Travel and Experience Agency", 2018).
3.2. Positive Socio-Cultural Impact
A major socio-cultural impact associated with the activities and operations of Tourism HQ is the fact that it exposes tourists to people from other cultural backgrounds, facilitating a great cultural exchange in the process. People from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds come together and get to know one another and participate in activities together as a result of tourist operations that are conducted by Tourism HQ for the most part of the year. Local inhabitants of the places where Tourism HQ hosts its activities also get the opportunity to meet and interact with people from other parts of New Zealand and other parts of the world, resulting in an excellent social and cultural interaction ("TourismHQ - The Travel and Experience Agency", 2018).
4. Rationale for Volunteering with Tourism HQ as a leader in Sustainability
4.1. Spread Awareness about the Need and Importance of Environmental Sustainability
One of the most important reasons to volunteer with Tourism HQ as a leader in sustainability is to spread awareness among the organization about the importance of environmental conservation. The fact that global warming is on the rise and that green house gas emissions largely contributed by the tourism sector is responsible for this, is something that needs to be made aware to the Tourism HQ management. Once they are made to understand the dangerous environmental impacts that are associated with Tourist HQ activities, they will accept the need to bring about changes in operations so as to ensure environmental sustainability (Egdell, 2015).
4.2. Set an Example for Other Tourist Operators
It is necessary to volunteer with Tourism HQ as a leader in sustainability in order to set an example to other popular tourism organizations in New Zealand. All tourist operators in the country need to adopt a positive attitude to environmental sustainability and embrace it as a part of their operations in order to contribute to the conservation and preservation of the flora and fauna that New Zealand is so well known for. Only when Tourism HQ, one of the most well-known and popular tourist operators in New Zealand leads by example, can other tourist operators in the country take the initiative and move towards environmental sustainability (Egdell, 2016).
5. Sustainability Management Actions Proposed for the Future
5.1. Opt for Accommodation Options that are Eco-Friendly in Nature
A crucial way by which Tourism HQ can ensure that it carries out its operations by keeping environmental sustainability in mind is to put up tourists or travelers in accommodations that are eco-friendly in nature. Thatched or bamboo huts and houses or wooden houses should be the mode of accommodation made available to travelers who sign up for the Tourism HQ activities in either the summer or in the winter. A preference should especially be given to accommodations that are comprised of furniture items that are entirely made of bamboo, given how good this can be for the surrounding natural environment.
5.2. Energy Consumption should be Kept at a Minimum
Every effort should be made on the part of the Tourism HQ operators to keep energy consumption at a minimum when implementing its travel agendas. Travelers need to be encouraged to conserve water instead of wasting it and electricity consumption should be kept at a minimum, with most of the tourist activities being carried out in the wild outdoors. The guest houses or resorts that tourists are put up at should be those that feature LED lights so that these bring down energy consumption by a considerable extent when used. Through the use of LED lights, Tourism HQ can not only save a lot of money on its energy bills but can also contribute to the wellbeing of the surrounding environment (Juvan & Dolnicar, 2014).
5.3. Avoid the Use of Plastic and Check Fuel Use during Water Sports
When conducting activities like water sports, care must be taken on the part of the Tourism HQ authorities not to use materials that are toxic in nature. For instance, the use of plastic in any and every form is something that must be strictly prohibited when conducting water sporting activities for tourists. Every effort must also be made on the part of the Tourism HQ management to check that toxic fuels don’t make their way into the ocean as a result of the water sporting events that are carried out. Special vigilance must be exercised in this respect. (Mihlaic et al., 2015).
5.4. Emphasis on Activities that involve Walking on Foot
Tourists who sign up for the Tourism HQ activities need to be made to walk as much as possible instead of using vehicles or transport to get from one place to another. When encouraged to walk on foot, a lot of fuel consumption can be saved, while preventing the release of toxic fumes into the environment at the same time. Tourists should be encouraged to go on foot for the most part of their travel activities and agendas. They will not only feel more exhilarated and energetic upon doing so, but will contribute to the wellbeing of the environment at the same time (Miller et al., 2016).
5.5. Avoidance of Littering
Littering is something that tourists desperately need to avoid when engaging in the large scale or small scale tourist operations that are conducted by Tourism HQ. For this purpose, Tourism HQ needs to keep a large number of dust bins and trash cans available at hand so that tourists are not forced to litter or throw away trash into their natural surroundings. Care must especially be taken to ensure that young parents are briefed about how to get their children to dispose of garbage in an environment friendly way when engaging in tourist activities as planned and implemented by Tourism HQ (Ruhanen et al., 2015).
5.6. Reduced Emphasis on Water Sports
The emphasis on water sporting activities is something that needs to be reduced considerably on the part of the Tourism HQ management given that the more time spent on the ocean, the more polluted it becomes. Every care must be taken on the part of the tourist authorities to keep water sporting activities to a minimum no matter how much fun such activities tend to me. By doing so, a lot of the toxicity that is emanated into the oceans can be prevented by quite a considerable degree safeguarding the oceanic environment and keeping it from becoming more acidic in nature than what it is right now (Pulido-Fernandez et al., 2015).
5.7. Avoidance of Littering
Apart from the avoidance of littering, the Tourism HQ management need to make sure that tourists adhere to personal hygiene when being a part of the company’s tourism plans and agendas. For instance, tourists must be told not to spit into the natural environment, and to maintain hygienic habits when venturing into very sensitive natural surroundings. Tourists must also be encouraged to wear eco-friendly garments and carry eco-friendly accessories in order to contribute to the wellbeing of the environment while enjoying themselves at the same time. Tourists for example can be asked to carry jute bags instead of using the regular backpacks, when venturing out on outdoor activities (Ruhanen et al., 2015).
5.8. Implementation of Outdoor Activities in Designated Areas
Outdoor activities and events should be carried out in areas or venues that are approved of by conservationists. If an outdoor activity is being hosted in a forested area, the activity should transpire within a part of this area that has been designated for it by environmental experts rather than venturing deeper into the woods to conduct such activities, putting the birds, animals and natural environment at risk. For this purpose, the Tourism HQ management needs to undertake a survey of forested areas and lands that can be legally used for tourist activities without doing any harm to the environment, and proceed accordingly (Mudjnarko et al., 2017).
5.9. Avoidance of Items that are Inflammable
Tourism HQ needs to take special care to ensure that tourist do not carry items or luggage that is inflammable in nature. New Zealand is a country that is quite prone to the outbreak of forest fires. Tourists must be encouraged to carry things with them that cannot start a fire easily and must also be trained in ways and means by which a fire can be extinguished if it does manage to break out. The forest fires in New Zealand tend to be raging and rapid often claiming the lives of people, animals and birds in just a few seconds, before the flames can be doused (Juvan & Dolnicar, 2014).
Performing tourist operations with environment sustainability goals in mind is a challenge by itself, but it is a challenge that can definitely be accomplished. Tourism HQ is one of the most renowned tour operators in New Zealand. The volunteer operation on environmental sustainability should make Tourism HQ aware of the dangerous impact on the environment that certain tourist activities can have and the ways and means by which such an impact can be avoided. If Tourism HQ wants to conduct its operations without doing any harm to the flora and fauna of New Zealand altogether, then it needs to implement its tourist agendas and plans in an environment friendly way, thus ensuring a healthy natural environment for tourists to enjoy themselves in.
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TourismHQ - The Travel and Experience Agency. (2018). Retrieved from https://tourismhq.com/