Climate Change and Tourism in the Pacific Islands: Trent Yeo

1 July 2022

Conversations around Climate Change and Tourism in the Pacific Islands: Trent Yeo, Executive Director Ziptrek Ecotour, New Zealand, Shares His Perspective

You may have attended our recent webinar Meet the Experts: Climate Change & Tourism in the Pacific Islands - What Travel Businesses Can Do To Help? with a lively discussion that included climate impacts in the Pacific Islands, around carbon removal, the Glasgow Declaration, how to set up a Climate Action plan in your business, carbon removal, climate impacts on the Pacific Islands and local solutions.

If you missed it, watch the full webinar here and watch this space for key highlights from the speakers. below: Here is a sneak peek of our highlights -  watch the full version. Read the key takeaways from Trent Yeo, Executive Director Ziptrek Ecotour, New Zealand below.

Ziptrek Ecotour offers nature-based experiences in Queenstown, New Zealand. The company has been operating for 13 years with a community-focused business plan designed with sustainability in mind. 

On operating as a zero carbon business: 

For a while, Yeo and his team hesitated to measure their carbon output, figuring sustainability was so much more than carbon offsets. But a few years ago, they realized that if Ziptrek wasn’t measuring, no one else would. It was a daunting project for a small business, but they felt like it was a necessary next step for their sustainability goals.

Yeo acknowledges that a lot of variables are outside the control of any one business, but believes it is the responsibility of management to understand the carbon impact of their operation, which he found to be a less time-consuming task than originally expected. Thanks to a simple business model and good accounting, they were able to calculate that at Ziptrek the per person experience is under two kilograms of carbon output. 

Educating clients is a key action item. For example, with the carbon output calculated, without context that number doesn’t mean much to most guests. At Ziptrek, they try to educate as part of the overall tour experience.

On the New Zealand Tourism industry’s approach to climate change:

Yeo is also on the Board of Directors of the Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA), which is an independent membership organization representing all sectors of the tourism industry in New Zealand. TIA has a Climate Change Commission which has been independently tasked to keep the government on track. TIA has also set up a Tourism sustainability commitment, part of which is a Climate Challenge that most of the industry has signed on to.

On opportunities for the tourism sector to take climate action: 

We need to consider how tourism might lead to the transformation of all land transport of people and things, given that so much of tourism is the transport of people and things. Similarly, we need to consider questions like how we support local economies and products, celebrate self-sufficiency, and finance structures that utilize a hyper-efficient energy strategy.

“The goal is to build a business that is sustainable by design and get people engaged in a nature-based experience that is meaningful.” - Trent Yeo, Ziptrek Ecotours

To summarize, as a travel business willing to start the journey in Climate Change, check out:

To watch the full session, click on the picture below: