NEW Zealand’s tourism industry has issued a call to confront the impact of growing international visitation as the country attempts to address community concerns.
At the TRENZ travel industry exhibition in Dunedin this week, Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) chief executive Chris Roberts said there needed to be a greater focus on sustainability, infrastructure investment and high-value visitors.
“The tourism industry is booming and delivering huge benefits to communities across New Zealand,” Roberts said.
“But rapid growth has its challenges in terms of things like congestion and pressure on infrastructure,” he said.
“Then there are the reputational issues — a small number of badly behaving freedom campers can colour the public’s overall perception of visitors.”
Roberts said new thinking was needed so the industry could “operate smarter and more sustainably” so that New Zealand could benefit as much as possible “with our environment and our way of life enhanced by the hosting of visitors”.
Roberts pointed out that 60% of New Zealand’s total tourism spend came from domestic travellers, and that int’l visitation was not high by global standards.
“New Zealand’s ratio of annual arrivals to population is 0.8 to 1,” he said.
“In Ireland, it’s 2 to 1, Croatia 3.3 to 1, and in Iceland, it’s more than six times our ratio, at 5.1 arrivals for every resident.”
Roberts said tolerance of tourism had to be self-determined by every destination.
“The New Zealand tourism industry must be committed to addressing the issues raised by New Zealanders – it’s a responsibility we all share.”
He said TIA would lead the charge through initiatives like its Tourism Sustainability Commitment launched last year and the Tourism 2025 Growth Framework, in addition to “tourism telling its stories better”.