Venture Taranaki Press Release: Another world-class Taranaki tourism operator announced
While getting hugs from homesick Taranaki expats isn’t what you’d normally expect as a bus driver, it’s just one aspect of service that has gained New Plymouth business Withers Coachlines internationally-recognised Qualmark accreditation.
Working with Venture Taranaki, Withers Coachlines has successfully undertaken the accreditation process, which licenses professional and trustworthy New Zealand tourism businesses to use the Qualmark logo - tourism's official quality mark.
This is not the first time Withers has partnered with the regional tourism organisation, however. A 2009 partnership led to the development of a distinct ‘Taranaki – like no other’ photographic feature on the exterior of a Withers coach.
“That exercise has been fantastic for us,” says Blair Withers of Withers Coachlines. “The branding on the bus helps promote the region and it also helps fulfils our company’s aim of taking both Taranaki to people and people to Taranaki,” Blair says.
However, it seems the sign-written coach has gone well beyond its brief. The driver has been approached on numerous occasions by Taranaki expats who have enjoyed reminiscing over the regional photography and pin pointing exactly where each photo has been taken.
The driver was hugged by a lady in Whakatane who had not been back to Taranaki for 40 years and was overwhelmed with emotion at the sight of the coach. On the coach’s return journey she even joined the tour group just to ride on the branded bus.
For Blair, Qualmark accreditation reflects this commitment to both the region and delivering consistently good service.
“We are all about exceptional service, and Qualmark is a further way we can validate that service. It’s an opportunity to reflect on what we are doing and it gives us a driver for constant improvement.”
Withers is the 56th Taranaki business to gain current Qualmark accreditation, up from just one business in 2004, with more than 40 of these supported by Venture Taranaki. Ten of these businesses have achieved Qualmark Enviro status, reflecting their sustainable practices.
“It’s fantastic that we’ve been able to grow the number of Taranaki’s visitor industry businesses who have achieved this high standard,” says VT’s general manager, visitor industry Paul Stancliffe.
“As we move towards the Rugby World Cup 2011 it’s important that we ensure the region’s businesses are operating to the highest international standards. As a region we must compete with the rest of New Zealand in terms of our level of service to enhance our reputation as a world-class destination,” Paul says.
To encourage even more Taranaki businesses to become accredited, Venture Taranaki Trust offers sponsorship for up to 10 local businesses to achieve Qualmark accreditation each year. It is through this support that Withers and Venture Taranaki teamed up to work through the Qualmark accreditation process.
“We’ve had fantastic growth in the number of world-class tourism and visitor businesses in Taranaki, and the hard work that has gone into this achievement is to be commended,” says New Plymouth Mayor Harry Duynhoven.
“This is another reflection of the long-term transformation of New Plymouth district as an increasingly attractive place to live, work and visit.”
Withers Coachlines are now looking at ways they can expand on their new status, and are looking to move towards the highly regarded Qualmark Enviro Award when they are re-assessed by Qualmark next year.
Established in 1993, Qualmark have developed a fully integrated system for assessing all tourism businesses to ensure that they deliver world class visitor experiences. All businesses carrying the Qualmark logo are assessed on their environmental performance, with Enviro Awards given to top performers.
The number of Qualmark accredited business continues to grow at both a regional and national level, as it is becoming increasingly important that tourism businesses are recognised as having quality systems and services in place.
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