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Translating the 100% Pure marketing campaign into an authentic sustainability management strategy: practices, policies and perceptions of New Zealand tourist visitor information centres (i-SITEs)
Morrow, Jeremy Nigel
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Within the strategic and environmental management disciplines, the implementation of authentic strategies has been under researched. In particular, few studies have examined implementation of strategies that are focused on environmental and ecological sustainability. The tourism industry provides an ideal context for this area of management to be studied as this industry relies on ‘authentic’ imagery of the natural environment and local cultures to differentiate the destination and to create enduring competitive advantage. The implementation of an authentic strategy in this area can open organisations to allegations of ‘greenwash’ if the principles of the strategy are not seen to be embedded throughout the organisation. The aim of this research is to investigate the translation of the 100% Pure New Zealand, a well established, iconic marketing and branding campaign, into authentic sustainability strategies, and the implementation and embedding of these strategies. The key concepts of authenticity and sustainability are explored in relation to business strategy, within the context of the tourism industry. This study was undertaken using qualitative research based on multiple case studies, where information was gathered using semi structured interviews with the manager and front-line employee of four i-SITEs, as well an observation of the i-SITE buildings; a place where tourists interact with the 100% Pure brand. The results were examined using thematic analysis, where a number of themes emerged, including: sustainability, the definition, policies, practices and procedures, as well as an identification of some barriers; the perceptions and relevance of third party accreditation, in particular the Qualmark Enviro Awards; an exploration of authenticity in a tourism industry context; the communication of sustainability top-down from council and ground-up, including with tourists; and an exploration to identify an understanding of imagery and concepts of the 100% Pure campaign. These themes were compared and contrasted with academic literature and four concepts were identified for further discussion. First, the constraints and barriers to sustainability strategies: with reference to the council, the building, and a discourse between the participant’s home sustainability actions and work implementation. Secondly, how Tourism New Zealand translates the 100% Pure campaign into a strategic vision. Third, an exploration of the understanding and meaning of authenticity. Finally, a discussion on implementing and maintain authentic sustainability strategies. The concluding sections answer the research questions explicitly, and examine the theoretical and policy implications made by the study. For the implementation of authentic strategies the study suggests that a whole organisation approach, that combines top-down and bottom-up approaches, is necessary to implement and embed successful sustainability strategies. These theoretical insights are elaborated from two perspectives: top-down and from bottom-up, resulting in two levels of policy implications. The top-down perspective focuses on how Tourism New Zealand and local councils can better communicate the strategic vision created using the 100% Pure brand, as well as suggestions for more effective dissemination of information and knowledge about sustainability, and related policy. The bottom-up perspective focuses on employee empowerment, to engage in the creation, implementation and review of sustainability strategy to enable authentic implementation and embeddedness. Specific recommendations are offered that there must be an involvement and commitment of time and resources, not just financial resources, by the management and staff at the i-SITEs, the local councils, as well as central government through Tourism New Zealand to more effectively embed authentic strategies throughout the organisations involved.