Globally, as the tourism industry moves towards rebuilding after the effects of COVID-19, the demand for products centred around achieving harmony with nature, being climate-friendly and focusing on sustainable production and consumption will be on the rise.
Mana Tiaki, Our Culture, Our Environment, Our Responsibility is one of the Kia Orana values promoted by Cook Islands Tourism for both industry and visitors. These values are embedded in the Cook Islands Tourism Strategy 2020 – 2030.
TRC have been working with the tourism industry to strengthen the Mana Tiaki Eco Certification Scheme and enable the tourism industry to work towards its commitment to sustainable tourism. The scheme was established by Cook Islands Tourism and the Cook Islands Industry Council a few years ago, it is voluntary and it is now starting to gather momentum across the broader industry.
The Mana Tiaki Eco Certification Scheme provides eco certification for businesses wanting to achieve higher levels of environmental sustainability than provided by the minimum industry standards of the Cook Islands Tourism Accreditation and Quality Assurance Scheme. Through extensive surveying of the tourism industry, our analysis showed that the establishment of the Mana Tiaki Eco Certification Scheme has had a positive influence on the Cook Islands tourism industry’s support sustainable tourism.
TRC Sustainability Specialist Penny Spoelder said that the operators we surveyed had improved their business practices, saved money and time because of becoming eco certified. They found the certification process to be educational as it increased their knowledge and awareness about sustainability and equipped them with policies and processes to improve business practices. Certification also provided operators with validation of their performance and provided them with a ‘good corporate conscience’ the study found.
The United Nations state “If the world does not act now, and forcefully, the catastrophic effects of climate change will be far greater than the current pandemic.” Climate Action, Goal 13 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals encourages everyone to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. Tourism industries around the world developing, investing and supporting a strong and comprehensive Eco Certification Scheme is definitely a step in the right direction. Great work Cook Islands!!
Image credit: Cook Islands Tourism