Tuesday, February 27, 2024
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Ara ‘makes a sustainable commitment’

Ara Institute of Canterbury has just signed up to the Tourism Industry Aotearoa ‘Tourism Sustainability Commitment’, a publicly-declared commitment towards the active embrace of sustainable operations in New Zealand.

The Commitment is a natural fit with Ara’s role as one of the South Island’s leading providers of tourism-industry and hospitality management programmes.

Just as New Zealand emphasises its ‘clean green’ credentials to overseas markets, Ara graduates are encouraged to enter their professional life with a sound grasp of the concepts and practices that contribute to sustainability in its broadest sense.

Ara also offers New Zealand’s only Masters degree in Sustainable Practice. This is helmed by Dr Allen Hill, who is also actively engaged in the 2020 – 2021 New Zealand Sustainable Development Goals Summit Series. The Summit Series is the third such Series to be organized by New Zealand tertiary institutions, and is this year co-hosted by the University of Canterbury (UC) and Lincoln University, and is supported by Ara Institute of Canterbury, Christchurch City Council (CCC) and Christchurch NZ. The Series comes to a climax this September with the action-focused workshop at UC entitled "Pathways to (Urgent) Action".

Past Ara students who have undertaken a Bachelor of Sustainability and Outdoor Education include Sam Le Marchand, who last year examined circular economies and sustainable practice within selected New Zealand food and beverage businesses. In the course of undertaking a qualitative survey of four organisations, Sam found that all four had incorporated policies and procedures that prioritised environmental sustainability, but also discovered that hospitality’s traditionally tight margins as well as technological and HR barriers can sometimes slow a change towards a better environmental profile.

However, Ara’s hospitality and tourism programmes have all been developed with a focus on sustainability. From the Bachelor of International Tourism and Hospitality Management courses through to the Certificate in Tourism courses, impacts of tourism on the environment, cultural impact of tourism, and the significance of are all core components of the programmes, along with the need to maintain financial sustainability in tourism organisations.

Part of the commitment to sustainability from the department of Hospitality and Service Industries is a focus on the waste associated with food production. All of Ara’s training kitchens have three bins to separate out food, recyclable and rubbish items, with the organic food waste going to an external worm farm. Surrounding the department are a variety of fruit trees and edible plants, including a herb garden and there are four beehives on the roof that produce honey for sale on campus. Packaging for all takeaway food containers has been replaced with compostable or recyclable material.

With the advent of the Commitment, the TIA is clearly hoping to help businesses take tangible steps towards more sustainable operations, claiming that "our Vision is for the New Zealand tourism industry to be ‘leading the world in sustainable tourism." The organisation further states that in order for this to be achievable, all tourism businesses need to be "actively working towards sustainability within their operations".

Specifically, the TSC asks that businesses embody the MƒÅ¬Åori concepts of kaitiakitanga,manaakitanga and whanaungatanga and put into place a concrete sustainability plan with goals for all 12 of the ‘Commitments’, make measurable progress towards these goals, and share their progress with their communities.

Dr. Michael Shone, who is head of Research at Ara and whose doctoral thesis covered the impacts of tourism in Akaroa, says "by formally signing up to this TIA Tourism Sustainability Commitment, we are signalling our own commitment to the principles which underpin this declaration".

"This means working together to provides strong benefits the people and places of Aotearoa. This is an important message not only to our learners but also to our communities."

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