Located in the North-East of New Zealand‘s South Island, the small coastal community of Kaikoura over the years has built itself a reputation of being a prime destination for sustainable tourism. Apart from the township’s and regional council’s pioneering environmental initiatives (for New Zealand standards), much of this reputation can be traced back to award-winning Whale Watch Kaikoura, a very popular wildlife tour run by the local Māori community.
Kauahi Ngapora, Managing Director of Whale Watch Kaikoura and Chairman of the newly formed Destination Kaikoura regional tourism organisation, tells us how it all began, and that for the Māori community, sustainability is about having an inter-generational mind set (the company is owned and operated by Kati Kuri, a sub-tribe of the South Island’s Ngai Tahu tribe).
- How Kauahi Ngapora’s view of sustainable tourism has changed over the years;
- The main challenges/hurdles for an ecotourism operator like Whale Watch Kaikoura;
- How he measures the sustainability of his tour operations;
- Which award he found the most valuable in terms of customer feedback and international recognition;
- Whale Watch Kaikoura’s secret for success;
- The Māori approach to sustainability in a business environment.
Kauahi, as a business person, what was your view on the importance of sustainability in travel and tourism when you started your professional career?
Working for Whale Watch there has always been a strong cultural connection with the marine wildlife and environment. But I would have to say 12+ years ago, sustainability in travel and tourism wasn’t something extremely high on the priority list.
Now in mid-2015, (how) has your view on sustainable tourism changed?
Sustainability is now a fundamental element of doing business: it is expected by more and more consumers, particularly where you have businesses that generate their revenue from providing experiences with nature.