Air New Zealand has become the first airline to win a Tourism for Tomorrow Award for sustainability.

The carrier picked up the award for Global Tourism Business last night at the Tourism for Tomorrow awards at the World Travel and Tourism Council summit in Abu Dhabi.

Air New Zealand was cited by the awards judges as achieving a 15% reduction in carbon emissions over the past eight years while its business was growing.

Peaks of the Balkans, a project offering hiking trails through Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro and set up in the aftermath of civil war, won the Tourism for Tomorrow Destination Stewardship Award.

The Conservation Award went to &Beyond of South Africa for work in protecting rare wildlife in South Africa, Zanzibar and India.

And the winner of the Tourism for Tomorrow Community Benefit Award was the Ten Knots Development Corporation and El Nido Resorts of the Philippines.

The Tourism for Tomorrow award winners are chosen by a judging panel of experts in sustainability whose members carry out site assessments.

Chairman of the judges Costas Christ said: “These winners have shown that embracing sustainable tourism principles and practices is not a part-time activity, but a fundamental responsibility of the industry.”

WTTC president and chief executive David Scowsill added: “These four awardees are shining examples of how businesses can balance people, the planet and profits effectively.”