InterCity Group’s drive to become the world’s first carbon neutral national land transport and tourism operator will help attract international tourists who are becoming more concerned about the environment, says Paul Yeo, CEO of the Inbound Tour Operators Council.
“The environment is the hot topic for tourists and tourist operators at the moment, particularly in the U.K., Europe and North America,” said Yeo.
“There’s been an awareness of climate change issues for some time, but in the past few months that awareness has snowballed and people now believe that their actions can change things,” said Yeo, whose New Zealand-based council represents NZ tour operators and travel wholesalers around the world.
“InterCity’s timing is perfect. Their forward-thinking sustainability initiatives are a fantastic example of foreseeing future consumer demand and adapting their product to meet that demand. We can now go out to the market with a product that will appeal to tourists with environmental concerns,” said Yeo.
InterCity Group, which includes the premium coach company Newmans Coach Lines, InterCity Coachlines and Kings Dolphin Cruises & Eco Tours, announced last week that it has signed up to Landcare Research’s carboNZero programme and plans to make its entire operation carbon neutral by 2010. InterCity Group’s corporate operations are already on track to being certified carboNZero this winter.
Over the past five years it has invested $20 million to upgrade its fleet which voluntarily meets European emission standards and this year it plans to give passengers the option to buy carbon credits to offset emissions generated from their trips.
Yeo said he hoped initiatives by InterCity, which is New Zealand’s largest national land transport and tourism operator, would encourage other New Zealand operators to follow suit.
“A lot of operators in the industry have sat back to see what will happen, but now I think more people will follow InterCity’s example.”
Yeo’s views were echoed by Travel 2, one of Britain’s largest travel wholesalers with a key focus on the Australian and New Zealand markets.
“From a U.K. point of view, reducing carbon emissions is not only very topical but becoming more and more important to both tourism industry buyers and consumers alike,” said Travel 2’s senior product manager, Dagmar Marrocco.
“It’s great to see a company like InterCity taking the lead on this and lifting the bar,” she said.
The Draft New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2015 announced last week urges tourism operators to adopt a strong sustainability focus to attract more tourists here.
Of the 2.4 million visitors to New Zealand each year, 519,000 come from Europe and the U.K and 293,000 come from the United States and Canada.