Sustainability key to holiday park’s Qualmark award

Mark Hales went from being the caretaker to managing the Mount Maunganui Beachside Holiday Park. From day one he knew the importance of sustainability.

Mark has a long association with Qualmark and under the revised criteria recently gained a Gold Sustainable Tourism Business award, an achievement that is very difficult for a property to achieve.  His council-owned holiday park is also the only one in New Zealand to receive a platinum award with the Instep program which monitors and manages a company’s carbon emission profile.

For someone who has long been committed to improved sustainability, Mark says Qualmark’s revised criteria are more relevant and useful to his business.   He also believes it is increasingly important for the whole of the New Zealand tourism industry.

He says that in the past international visitors have been much more advanced in terms of sustainability than New Zealanders.  “They notice; they see our certificates on the wall and comment on them and the practices that we have in place.”  He says more New Zealanders are now taking notice and attitudes are changing, with parents often encouraged by their children who are learning more about sustainability at school.

Operating a worm farm which also take scraps from a nearby café and moving his recycling bin enclosure to a position where the big collection trucks don’t even enter the park are just two examples of how he is improving the park. 

His efforts around waste management have also saved the business $6000 in a year.  "When you tell people that, they suddenly become interested".

Mark is also impressed with the health and safety criteria which Qualmark have improved to back up new legislation that came into force last year.  In January 15,600 people stayed at the park and Mark says: 

“Health and safety has to be a priority for any holiday park where we want people to enjoy themselves in a safe environment.  I believe we just can’t do enough on health and safety so any checks and assessments have got to be good for the business”.

Mark’s relationship with the local community and his strong relationship with local iwi are also critical.  Sitting at the base of Mt Maunganui-Mauao has important cultural significance and Mark is respectful of the culture and history.  If any earthworks or digging of any kind is planned, there is an iwi monitor in place to keep an eye on things.  “It’s just about keeping people informed about what you want to do and talking things through,” he says. 

The park generates power via solar panels, there are P checks carried out on the cabins and caravans and an arborist regularly checks the towering Norfolk Pines that overlook the park.  “There is always something more we can do and the Qualmark assessments are a good way to check what is happening and what’s new, and ask what more we can be doing,” says Mark.

The assessments with the Qualmark advisors keep everyone talking and learning.  “It’s good to be able to pick their brains about what needs to be done and what other people are doing.  They always give you an answer and getting an action plan is just a really practical way of knowing what to do next and to have a plan to follow.”