How Qualmark Works

Sustainable Tourism Business Criteria

All Qualmark accredited businesses are required to undergo an evaluation in line with sustainable tourism business practices. 

There are four key areas we look at:

  • Health and Safety

    Operating and safety management systems

    The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 is embedded accordingly for the business.  Documented and current Hazard Register, Hazard Risk assessment, Emergency Management Procedure Plans, Accident/Incident Register, Injury Management.
    Reporting, recording, investigating How health and safety documents are used and reviewed.
    Staff engagement/participation               Whether staff are engaged, and how active their participation is in health and safety practices.  What management does to facilitate this.
    Training How staff are trained on the business’ health and safety policies, and to what level.
    Leadership How management creates a safety culture in the business.  Management can show through their actions, process and policies that health & safety is important in their business.  Management walk the talk.
    Continuous improvement    If there is a review process in place and how learnings for improvement are implemented in the business.
    Visitor experience

    How confident the customer feels that every care has been taken to ensure their safety whilst on site or undertaking an activity/service.

    How this is communicated to the customer; and the level of engagement the customer can take.
  • Environment

    Resource usage How the primary resource use is identified and understood.
    Discharge and waste management The awareness of the business’ discharge and waste and how this is managed.
    Monitoring and reporting

    How the major resources used are monitored on an overall basis.  An appreciation of how usage can be affected by variables such as visitor numbers, guest nights, seasonality etc. 

    What actions are in place to minimise these usages.
    Customer engagement/involvement

    How the business is communicating its environmental ethos to customers. 

    Can the customer engage/have an impact on that environmental footprint.

    Complements surrounding environment

    How the business embraces the concept of Kaitiakitanga. 

    The business meets all legal obligations including resource management and land use requirements.

    Cultural interpretation

    Are historic and/or cultural aspects of the business understood and are they shared with customers.

    Are they authentic and authenticated.
    Cultural hosting

    An awareness of cultural differences, how the business caters to different cultures and if hosting is culturally appropriate. 

    How the business showcases New Zealand and ensures authentic experiences.
    Exemplary Advocacy

    How the business places value on their environmental positioning. 

    How the business is viewed by their peers and if they are considered to be an environmental stalwart.
    Asset Register / Management Plan Evidence of an asset management plan that ensures good repair and consideration of the environment that the business operates in.
    Investment and enhancement

    What development or enhancement has been made in the last 12 months and what development or enhancements are planned for the next 12 months.

    How have these added value to the business’ environmental credentials.

    The business’ understanding of the importance and relevance of Manaakitanga. 

    How the business engenders this in their customer interactions.
    Visitor experience

    Indication the environmental credentials of the business are an integral part of the visitor experience.

    If the experience leaves the visitor thinking the experience is protecting/enhancing the environment for the next generation.

    Any options for guests to contribute further in eco/environmental projects if appropriate.
  • Social/People

    Customer service standards, training, culture

    Evidence that clear customer service standards are in place.

    All staff are trained and engaged in providing the best possible service.
    Service/product knowledge

    A demonstrated knowledge of service and product offering. 

    Service standards are monitored and reported, with a view to continuous improvement.
    Complaints handling A system in place to receive and respond to complaints with clear procedures on complaint resolution and staff empowerment.

    Feedback processes, feedback analysis,

    third party reviews

    How various forms of feedback are monitored.

    Evidence of analysis, and how the analysis may have prompted change to product and service offerings.
    Recruitment processes, staff training

    Recruitment, induction and training processes are evident. 

    Staff performance is monitored, reviewed and communicated.
    Team culture Management can demonstrate how a cohesive team environment exists and how it is fostered.
    Community engagement

    How the business is actively engaged with its community.

    Business and staff are aware of and support local community activities.
    Industry engagement

    How the business stays up to date with relevant trends.

    Engagement that the business has with the wider tourism industry.

    If the business can demonstrate an active interchange of experience and ideas.
    Continuous improvement

    Are staff involved in on-going training or up-skilling.

    Evidence of career development pathways or professional development opportunities/qualifications.
    Visitor experience

    How the customer experience is enhanced through the expertise, training, knowledge and interaction with staff. 

    An opportunity for visitors to engage with the wider community and feel included as they experience the product and services.
  • Economic

    Operations manual

    How day to day relevant operating procedures, key contacts, policies and service are documented and reviewed.

    The range and scope of this documentation.

    How this document remains live, available, and relevant to staff.
    Marketing plan

    How well the business understands its customer base.

    The business has identified how to reach and interact with customers. 

    Relevant strategies are in place and reviewed.
    Job Descriptions

    Job descriptions and signed staff contracts.

    Evidence of clear performance indicators.

    A documented confirmation process and cancellation policy. 

    A centralised reservation system with ease of use by the customer taking into consideration technology, personalisation, accuracy, etc.

    Business information

    An online presence with accurate representation and consideration given to language, platforms, usage, etc.

    How other mediums are used to communicate the business.
    Facilities management

    Business can demonstrate the physical quality, range on offer, design, maintenance, and the safety and security of all facilities available.

    Extent of plans to maintain quality and performance.
    Payment systems

    Evidence of payment options.

    The secure handling of customer financial details.

    Receipting of transactions.

    Continuous improvement                                            

    Evidence of any improvements undertaken in the last 12 months and any planned improvements for the next 12 months.
    Maintenance How the on-going repair and maintenance is documented and what levels of preventative maintenance is undertaken.
    Visitor experience

    The systems and procedures in place within the business that have a direct impact on both the experience delivered to and received by the visitor.

    A customer centric approach in system and process design with the visitor interface and ease of use paramount.

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