How Qualmark Works

All businesses are originally assessed under the Sustainable Tourism Business Criteria.  This has four key areas:

Health and safety

  • Operating and safety management systems
  • Reporting, recording, investigating
  • Staff engagement/participation
  • Training
  • Leadership
  • Continuous improvement


  • Monitoring and reporting
  • Resource usage
  • Discharge and waste management
  • Customer engagement/involvement
  • Complements surrounding environment
  • Cultural interpretation/hosting


  • Customer service standards, training
  • Service/product knowledge
  • Complaints handling
  • Feedback processes, feedback analysis, third party reviews
  • Recruitment processes, staff training
  • Team culture
  • Community/industry engagement


  • Operations manual
  • Marketing plan
  • HR
  • Reservations
  • Business information
  • Facilities management
  • Visitor experience

Sector Specific Criteria

Businesses will also be assessed against sector specific criteria.  Whether you are a hotel, backpacker, kayak, bike or bus operator, there will be additional criterion that is relevant to the type of business you operate.  

Sustainable Tourism Business Awards & Star Ratings

Following an evaluation, a Qualmark business will receive a Bronze, Silver or Gold award based on their performance under the Sustainable Tourism Business Criteria.

Accommodation businesses will also receive an official star rating that denotes the quality of the facilities on offer.   

Sustainable Tourism Business Criteria - what do the ratings mean?

Qualmark looks to recognise businesses that are delivering a holistically sustainable experience.  Businesses are awarded a Bronze, Silver or Gold award depending on their performance against the Sustainable Tourism Business criterion.

Bronze Sustainable Tourism Business Award

To achieve a Bronze Award a tourism business must meet all Qualmark’s minimum standards across 40 key components contained in the Sustainable Tourism criteria.  It identifies a business with a high level of professionalism, an awareness of the impact it has on the environment and a customer centric approach.

Silver Sustainable Tourism Business Award

A Silver Award is evidence of a sophisticated tourism business that consistently exceeds visitor expectations.  Proactive leadership and management ensure that a culture of high performance is evident throughout the entire business.  The business will have a real focus on continuously improving their economic, social and environmental performance to ensure the tourism product they deliver is a genuine, constantly improving sustainable experience.

Gold Sustainable Tourism Business Award

A Gold Award recognises the best sustainable tourism businesses in New Zealand, with the delivery of exceptional customer experiences an integral part of everything they do.  A Gold Sustainable Tourism Award identifies those businesses leading the way in making the New Zealand tourism industry a world class sustainable visitor destination.

Star rating – used for accommodation only

1 Star Facilities and service meets customers minimum requirements
2 Stars Exceeds customers minimum requirements
3 Stars

Good to very good facilities and services

4 Stars Consistently high quality levels of facilities and service
5 Stars Facilities and services amongst the best on offer in New Zealand

About the quality mark

The Qualmark quality mark incorporates the official stylised fern - the brand of New Zealand.  It's the same fern worn with pride by many of our sports teams.  Within the tourism industry, you'll find this official fern associated with all of Tourism New Zealand's international promotional programmes, i-SITE visitor information centres and with quality assured tourism businesses that are part of the Qualmark licensing system.  So for tourism, it demonstrates the commitment to provide the best possible experiences for domestic and international travellers.

To help travellers understand the breadth and depth of what Qualmark stands for, we have highlighted the three key pillars of our story.

Light Footprint

An environmentally friendly and holistically sustainable experience

Safe & Sound

Where safe principles and practices are part of every experience

Warm Welcome

Where you will always find a genuine welcome and true New Zealand hospitality