Friday, August 8, 2008

Tourism's fourth bottom line

Damien O'Connor, the Minister of Tourism stated at a recent presentation at the Motel Association Annual Conference that:

“It’s clear to me that in order to have quality tourism operations we need to be sustainable, not just economically, but environmentally, socially and culturally as well”.

The Ministry of Tourism is a majority shareholder of Qualmark NZ and holds considerable sway in the political direction of this quality benchmarking company. Qualmark's promotion of “Responsible Tourism” within their quality assurance assessment measures the environmental and social commitment of accommodation providers and is closely aligned to the government's environmental and social agenda.

Accommodation providers that are already burdened with financial reporting are now coming to grips with the imposed prescription of environmental and social bottom line reporting. Triple bottom line accounting may soon be joined by a fourth bottom line reporting requirement. Watch this space for “Culture” to be added to Qualmark’s “Responsible Tourism” criteria.

Our cultural Prime Minister Helen Clark, is an avid supporter of the triple bottom line, has long been an admirer of French President Jacques Chirac's "quadruple bottom line" philosophy. France has a dominant national culture that has been developed over centuries and "cultural" implies something much more than in Bicultural New Zealand, with its Treaty of Waitangi. This potentially makes quadruple bottom line reporting in this country a minefield.

It is abhorrent for any government institution to mandate culture and it would seem to be unreasonable to expect this to occur. However the tourism industry has appeared to have accepted environmental and social political babblespeak in support of the 100% Pure Campaign, so why wouldn't it support mandating "culture".

Whose culture should be reported on? And how are the impacts and contributions going to be assessed? In the politically correct world of the tourism industry, nothing is impossible and these questions will be answered in good time by centralist social engineers on your behalf... Just remember that you heard it here first!

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