New Zealand Tourism Minister, Stuart Nash, and Conservation Minister, Kiritapu Allan, say that the Feb 2021 report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) adds to calls to overhaul the tourism model that existed prior to COVID19.
“The PCE tourism report joins a chorus of analysis which has established that previous settings, which prioritised volume over value, are not sustainable,” says Stuart Nash. “The push for more sustainable tourism when our borders re-open is gathering pace. It is too early to respond in detail to the PCE recommendations, which require in-depth consideration by a number of government agencies. But the report is a timely challenge to many assumptions which underpin our tourism industry.”
He adds, “The concept of ‘Brand New Zealand’, or the 100% Pure image, requires constant maintenance. We cannot allow it to be damaged in our key international markets. I have already identified the need to honour the promise of ‘Brand NZ’ as one of my priorities. Other priorities include ensuring the full cost of tourism is priced into the visitor experience and it is not left to ratepayers and taxpayers to pick up the tab or subsidise tourism activities. Another priority while our borders are closed to international visitors is to reposition the industry. Tourism will not return to ‘business as usual’ as it was in 2019. The sector was under pressure even before COVID closed our borders.”
“Problems like congestion in national parks, degraded natural attractions, creaking local infrastructure, seasonal peaks and troughs, and abuse of the freedom camping regime led to a poor visitor experience and an unfair burden on small communities,” says Mr Nash.
“This report is an opportunity for us all to look at the role conservation has in tourism,” says Kiri Allan. “It acknowledges that tourism in the time of COVID needs a reset. DOC works on behalf of New Zealanders to protect our unique flora, landscapes, historic sites and wildlife, while also providing high-quality access to that heritage and managing recreational use. To safeguard options for future generations we need to re-imagine how we balance visitor volumes with the value we place on the environment. This report adds to that conversation.”
Stuart Nash acknowledges there are some parallels between the PCE report and government priorities for the tourism and conservation sectors. “The report sits alongside a raft of other advice received and commissioned as part of the COVID recovery and rebuild,” Mr Nash says. “This includes the Tourism Futures Taskforce; DOC’s visitor management work; Tourism New Zealand’s research into the views of New Zealanders; Tourism Industry Aotearoa’s 100 day plan; the MBIE Briefing to the Incoming Minister; and the Government Tourism Strategy, amongst others. This shows that we all want similar outcomes: a tourism industry that is sustainable, authentic, and one that benefits the community as well as the visitor.”