New Zealand's "pure" reputation could be under threat as the country's tourism body looks to shore up its global image as a clean and green destination.
Tourism New Zealand has published a research tender aimed at identifying the best way for the industry to "strengthen its alignment" with the 100% Pure New Zealand image.
It suggests improving tourism's "sustainability" credentials with the introduction of an internationally recognised award to combat "emerging reputational issues".
With international tourism New Zealand's second largest earner, estimated to have contributed $9.8 billion to the economy for the year to March 2013, it was important this was safeguarded, the tender says.
There was anecdotal evidence that New Zealand had some emerging reputational issues, highlighted by international media coverage.
These included a high-profile John Key interview on the BBC news show HardTalk, in which he was grilled about New Zealand's clean and green image, and a Guardian article titled "New Zealand was a friend to Middle-earth, but it's no friend to the earth".
With the fastest tourism growth expected to come from Asia, incidents such as the Fonterra whey powder scare had also had a detrimental impact, the tender says.
Tourism NZ chief Kevin Bowler said there was not a big problem at present, but it could be a different situation in a decade, with increased competition from countries such as Canada and South Africa.
- The Southland Times
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